February 4, 2008

With the primary aim of stimulating debate, we are highlighting an altercation going on in the comments boxes of this blog. The text is as it was posted and there has been no editorial intervention. Most of the ideas expressed here are so shallow that a disclaimer would not be necessary to prove that we do not endorse this conversation.

Uncle joe: Jan 13, 2008-

It is not with surprise that I read the view that Mwai Kibaki is not the legitimate president of Kenya. This view is so pervasive that even many who supported the president have been deceived into taking it up.That it is so widespread is a tribute to the ODM’s knack for lies and its efficiency at pushing them as truth. It is also in no small part a result of the political ineptitude of the PNU and State House.The view is predicated on two strands of thought. The first, published by the ODM and a perpetuation of its hateful and divisive anti-GEMA strategy, declares that President Kibaki won only one of Kenya’s provinces and is therefore not the true president of all Kenya. The second, declares the election stolen by the incumbent, and rather cheekily insists that the extension of his tenancy at State House is a ‘coup’.
National Support

This first argument is only one of the few in the litany of lies the ODM has rammed through a servile, biased media. The facts speak for themselves, Mwai Kibaki won 4 out of Kenya’s provinces and MPs running on pro-Kibaki platforms won more than 100 seats with victories in every single province. None of his rivals even came close to the same level of support. Kibaki also won a sizeable number of votes even in the provinces where he was overall second best, reaching the 25% mark in every province but Nyanza, where he still managed to poll 17% of the vote. The ODM candidate on the other hand posted a measly 2% and 5% in Central and Eastern provinces, and managed 25% in only six of the provinces.

‘But the bulk of the president’s votes were GEMA votes,’ comes the reply. Well, that may be true but the formulation GEMA itself makes into one what are properly a multitude of ethnicities. More importantly however, our democracy as currently fashioned makes no demands on the ethnicity of voters desiring merely that the victorious candidate have the approval of at least 25% from five provinces to underline his nationalist credentials. To reiterate, it is not communities, faiths or regions that vote. It is individuals.

This is no trivial point. The ODM has taken even before the election to making the case that their candidate was the People’s Candidate, Kenya’s candidate. That was all very well for that period when presentation and marketing were more important than truth; but in this the post-election period, the party and its supporters would do well to realise that by any estimation fully 4 million Kenyans declared their support for each of the two leading candidates. So it is that even now,as the party and its supporters persist in saying that the Kenyan people have been robbed, the Kenyan people are angry, they must remember that there are some Kenyans a substantial number, a majority even who actually voted for Kibaki - and who rejected the ODM.

For starters, it is most irresponsible, if typical of the ODM to neglect to take into account the votes of these 4 million, they are after all just GEMA, Gikuyu, Embu, Meru, Mbeere, Tharaka; you know those people, not Kenyans. This diligently crafted Us vs Them dichotomy explains why the ODM’s leaders have not yet seen fit to visit, or even declare peace with the communities that are being victimised by the outbreaks of violence- communities which in the pre-election campaigns they worked very hard to demonise. When it is not demonising them directly, the ODM and its agents continually seek to invite the GEMA to join Kenyans in voting ODM, proposing all the time that to vote differently is unKenyan.

This is part of the reason for the renewal in Kikuyu nationalism, a whole community has been forced to the wall by the invective of three years and two political campaigns. We stand in our millions -along with Kenyans of every ethnic persuasion in rejection of ethnic chauvinism- and declare to the ODM that we are adamant in our support for President Kibaki and that we too retain the inalienable right to the appellation, Kenyan. We respect that there are those, our brothers and sisters from across the country, with different political persuasions, but never in a million years would we think to pretend that those opinions made them less Kenyan than we are. If it is the sheer numbers in Central Kenya that intimidate the opposition into taking this position, also published as the 41 versus 1 strategy, then the ODM have to now get to their grassroots and urge a population boom. Anything else hurts all of us, and the victims of this hatred will not just be the Gikuyu. The economic and social effects of this policy of excluding one group from the whole will be profound, and as many in Western Kenya are finding, life without the other is not exactly a bed of roses.

The end of this hatred is especially urgent for ODM for, in light of the premeditated and barbaric ODM action in the Rift Valley and across the country, it is unlikely that too many Kenyans, even those who had previously aligned themselves with the party will be particularly drawn to it and its divisive politics any more. The consequences of all the strident screeching about Majimbo and the theory that the Gikuyu hogged all the country’s resources have finally manifested themselves.

Election irregularities

I find it most unfair to look merely at one set of election irregularities while turning a blind eye to the other. Such a predisposition is not only unhelpful, but declares a bias that precludes a just assessment of the elections. It is not unlinked to the over-arching theory of Gikuyu hegemony as it dictates that only one side in the election had the wherewithal to interfere with the vote.
The media and observers seem to have focused merely on crimes committed during the final vote tallying while ignoring the fact that there were several irregularities in ODM zones.
For starters, there was no free will in the vote in Nyanza. Long before the election begun, candidates who would have stood against the ODM nominees were compelled to stand down and those who resisted were demonised and accused of perfidy to the tribe. There were prior to the elections, outbreaks of violence against the disloyal, outbreaks which led to the displacement and non-participation of such persons. There are also credible reports that women and those from communities likely predisposed to vote different than the ODM were obstructed from exercising their voting rights by hooligans either inspired by or hired by the ODM. As the ODM candidate demanded at a campaign rally in Eldoret, ‘hatutaki madoadoa’.

Even worse, and as confirmed by KEDOF in their final vote report, agents representing parties allied to Mwai Kibaki and Kalonzo Musyoka were denied entry into vote counting and vote tallying centres, including most famously Nyayo Stadium where what had been widely billed a close race between Raila Odinga and Stanley Livondo was turned into a rout of suspiciously monumental proportions. This as Uhuru Kenyatta complained, came after Livondo and his group were locked out of the stadium.

Some have asked why the government did not then use the police to back up the blocked voters and insist that the opposition agents be allowed entry at these events. The truth is that the tense pre-election atmosphere did not allow for any use of force by the government, indeed any such moves would have been seen as persecution and would have cost the government votes at the election. Those asking this forget that there were already killings in Nyanza of police personnel prior to the election and that it is this state of violence that ensured that Kibaki and Kalonzo affiliated agents were wary of performing their duties there. Importantly also, any such interference would have undermined the independence of the ECK which was the organisation charged with the proper conduct of the elections. The instruments of legal and legitimate use of force are restricted to use in the protection of the polling station and its environs from the vagaries of the contestants and their agents.

Finally, it is most categorically not true that it is impossible to conduct a re-tally of the forms sent to Nairobi by the poll centres around the country. The agents of all the parties contesting the election carry with them copies of the results announced in these centres and should retain copies of the electoral forms. These can be availed for a national re-tallying, which as the Justice Minister Martha Karua told the BBC’s Hard Talk, the government is very willing to facilitate when ordered by a court of law. Karua herself was part of a group of politicians including George Nyamweya, James Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o who sat through the night of the 29th of December with ECK officials and went over the vote tallies from across the land. They subtracted the entire element of suspicious added on votes that the ODM had complained about and Kibaki’s total was adjusted accordingly.

When it was found that the vote still indicated a Kibaki victory, the ODM side sought the very next day to reverse their previous urge for the expeditious publication of the result (remember the ODM had on the 28th and 29th been putting pressure on Kivuitu to announce the victor) and instead began a campaign (Raila even stormed Kivuitu’s home at 0700) to have Kivuitu delay the announcement. Commentators seem to have forgotten that Musalia Mudavadi had already announced the election for the ODM or that there were riots in Kisumu that demanded the election result be announced. Now it seems we only focus on the pressure from the PNU and ODM-K, forgetting all the time the even greater pressure from the ODM the previous day.
As the leaked memo from World Bank country director Colin Bruce avers, the facts are clear. The ODM is only too aware that such a re-assessment would make clear that they lost the election, and are as a result wary of appealing to the courts for such a re-tallying. Mwai Kibaki is the legal, but also the legitimate president of Kenya, which fact will soon be proved in a court of law

Joanne: Jan 14, 2008
I think that all the chatter, and the finger pointing are tiresome and utterly irrelevant at this point- ask the hundreds who have needlessly lost their lives whether their final thoughts were ODM, OR PNU? I think the real issue is what is being played out by the people on the streets who are fed up with all the positing and idle chatter that has only added to inflame new hatreds, and fire up old hurts. Enough already. Enough with the he said, she said, they said, the should not have said..the country is unraveling with such speed, and whats the dosey monster tribalism beast is now out and ready to play.
Move towards healing- enough finger pointing. no ones hands are clean in this shameful display of greed and cowardice.

Uncle joe: Jan 14, 2008
We have to point fingers the country can not heal and return to the same when killers are out there pretending to be champions of democracy.

Joanne: Jan 15, 2008-

True, Or when cowards buy their way into office and from that platform, pose like vultures devouring the carcases of people hopes and dreams for a better life, and pretending to lead the country towards its ultimate destiny.

Mo: Jan 17, 2008-

Yes Uncle Joe.
We shall point fingers to you and like minded personalities who witnessed the electral process being termed “flawed” with an irrelevant ECK that does not know who won the elections.
Yes! to people like you who support unequal distribution of resources, support corrupt governance, injustice and allow to be used by the multi-millionaires who acquire their riches through unscruplous deals throwing their spoils to their supritendents. ,maybe you are one of them.

Yes! Scathing remarks to shameless mean people like you who know too well that Githongo ran away from Kenya because government personalities were on his life. People who support corrupt leaders carrying the Bible”ewe mwenyezi Mungu unisaidie” they procalim so confidently. One feels like saying (God have mercy) “ewe mwenyezi Mungu uwachape na Radi”

The educated like you who fail to learn and comprehend that Economic Majimbo does not mean you go back to your ancestral land where you will be chased by your “cousins” but it means more of decentralizing Nairobi and those living around Lake Nakuru rich in flaura and fauna benefit from it rather than all the revenue going to Nairobi.

Point accusing fingers to those who support organisations like GEMA headed by Njenga Karume whose name appears in many wrong deals and once allowed Mungiki to take control of his hotel during a Central Kenya MP’S retreat. Maybe your were there.

People like you who support Nicholas Biwott and the former president Moi………………………… i don’t need to continue they are Killers who your rigged government is supporting. Anyway one can’t blame their supporters, they don’t know know about being free and fair no wonder they still have colonial D.O’s as their MPS. We would rather have a good name in integrity, honesty, rather than be among those who appoint a personal lawyer as Electoral Commissioner, re-appoint judges who are on investigation to the Court of Appeal, order shoot to kill when people are holding white cloths and branches, swear in a president at night,(what is their difference with Mungiki!).Shameless full of guilt leaders. How do they tell their children “don’t steal” or they tell them it is good to steal when you are educated but not learned . At least we’ll fight back when demanding our rights. In the words of our former freedom hero DEDAN KIMATHI” WE WOULD RATHER DIE ON OUR FEET THAN DIE ON OUR KNEES.” By the way the family is still in absolute poverty 43yrs………….. am sure the COLONIAL D.O.S’ suppoters know the number of years after independence.

Look here Uncle Joe it’s not a time to point fingers as no ones hands are clean it is better to have peace, a constitutional reform that makes the Judiciary executive-free, reduced presidential powers, corrupt free insituitions, more public awareness of their rights, devolution of power. They may be Harvard and London School of Economics, educated but not learned. which are you!

Joanne: Jan 18, 2008

Well said Mo. The only people winning in this chaos are the greedy buggers who are in office, playing God and acting disgustingly nonchalant and innocent, while the needless slaughter of innocents is perpetuated. This is a fight for equitable distribution of resources, and rightfully so. This country was not built on the backs of a select few senile grandfathers who think that their verbal acrobatics and blatant disregard for the lives of people can hide their true intent which is to line their pockets with as much wealth as possible.

The finger pointing and divisiveness is promoted and supported because a people divided by superficial distractions are easy targets for deception. I think that a decent and honest leader would not be panicked about stepping down, after all, if it is the peoples choice, then ideally, nothing should alter that will. You, me, and the hundreds of displaced and martyrs dying on the street know full well that we will be reduced to yet another African statistic before these people come to the realization that life is finite and the wealth they accumulate here is only for this earthly plane- at the end of the day it will be between them, the worms and their God.

uncle joe: Jan 20, 2008-

Yes i believe in keepping things as they are . If you are lazy and dont want to work then you dont eat !kibaki and kikuyus are here to stay and we will not be ruled by boys !
say all you want you leftwing pro british liberals will never have kenya

Poet on a skateboard: Jan 20, 2008

Well said Uncle Joe! Why allow uncircumcised boys to rule us? By virtue of this amongst many other reasons, they and those who think like them do not deserve to eat. We fought for this country and it is ours and no one else’s. Things should remain the way they are. The very thought of Raila running for president cost us millions as Hon.Kimunya said. We are loosing billions in money that may have been accrued through tourism and other sources as the evidence attests but that doesn’t matter. We shall eat at Norfolk and Muthaiga Golf Club because we worked hard for it as Rachel Weisz makes another movie in the slums and later complains about the slums being only a small distance away from our profit. After all, it’s not our fault that they don’t work and why therefore should we care? Talks about sharing resources is unsabstantial. None asked God to bless us and curse them. I pray everyday that i wasn’t born of the wrong tribe and continue asking him to continue blessing us more than them. So what if everything goes up in flames? At least it won’t be in our backyard. We are greater than they think……or are we?

Could we entertain the thought that we might be wrong?

Are we really greater than they think?

Does strength lie in the power of the gun and the coin or does it truly lie in the humility to learn from others; and to dare i say……share?

Are we really what our leaders tell us we are?

The truth is not fashioned to please. If it was, then it would be a convenient one. It’s the disguting visceral truth we’re running from that we must face. Let us stop the running and turn. But what happens if we do face it and still deny it? What becomes of us then?
Should we blatantly disregard the truth we know or embrace the lies that maim?
This is my call to all of you spreading rumours, lies and whose obvious aim is to harden your frail stands…cease and desist sowing seeds of discord. Your heathen boldness will count for nothing when everything falls all around you. There’s a greater war being waged; one that some conveniently ignore but will find it hard to refuse when it blows up. It is however not being waged in the streets or in parliament. Its weapon of choice is not the gun and nor is it the law. It is being waged in the mind as we speak. It is the purging of the putrid, and the soldiers are not the G.S.U or the politicians, but the enlightened who have realised that unity is greater than division. We are exactly what ‘they’ feared we would find out…….that no matter the tribe; Kikuyu, Luo, Pokot, Ilchamus or any other for that matter, we are indeed one blood, one nation. Those who refuse to tow the line, those who refuse to submit, will be swept away and be forgotten and no amount of resistance will stop this tide. “What shall be left behind in the ashes of the wake?”

Nothing shall remain for the putrid. A new day and a rejuvinated people will however emerge but only if those who can, do decide to embrace the truth as all must. There will be no exception to the rule. We cannot compromise truth, justice, our unity and peace for a few people manipulating us, as we continue to live out our poor lives-eking out a living incapable of sustaining ourselves, whilst we’re made to think that the accrued benefits belong only to our so-called leaders and their kin-all who we are falsely made to believe, we ought to rever like gods amonst men.

Ponder on that if you will.

Uncle Joe: Jan 20, 2008-

That the ODM candidates are a superior class of politician,s one with their fingers right on the pulse of ’some’ public opinion is unquestionable, but even his most ardent supporters must have their minds dizzy with the extremity of their vacillation and their capacity for wowing crowds with a steady stream of bile and comedy. It is important that kenya have free and fair elections but the question must be asked, what is it all for? Is it simply a pursuit for glory? What is the intended consequence of ascension to State House. And for the voting public, what are the consequences of the realization that he almost never means what he says?

Nowhere in the constancy of leftwing pro british rhetoric is there a genuine hint of a well-thought out raft of proposals, or indeed even of the embryonic rumor of a pro kenya economic policy. But so hungry are the people, and so far removed from the feast at the table that their eyes are transfixed on the messenger and the boom of his voice. Their fickle attentions mesmerized and misdirected to their disadvantage, hearing only what they want to hear and seeing only what they want to see.

Over a steady fifteen years, carried along in no small part by our political immaturity and desire for ruthless, exploitative leadership, Raila -your leader has succeeded in creating for himself a brand as the enigmatic whitewasher, the man who can make black white and white, black. In the time since, he has arrogated to himself the name of Messiah, and with the consequent fanatical support, crafted an ability to resurrect the political fortunes of many an ugly politician, and with just as much ease to cast as a demon yesterday’s angel. The avenger’s sword has visited many a Kenyan politicians’ throats, most recently that of william ole ntimama and co A short time before that, it was William Ruto on who the war was waged. With stiff reminders that those with court cases would not be allowed to run for president, and that Sally and Henry Kosgei would be taken up to replace him if he did not comply. Now that he has, those court cases are really nothing but a distant memory.

At the last election, it was Raila’s present running mate Musalia Mudavadi who was strung up on charges as the dark force behind Goldenberg, the largest fraud in Kenya’s history. Now, however it is Prof. George Saitoti who must take the blame for those crimes as Musalia is made whiter than the snow. President Moi was also propped up in power by the NDP and Raila’s energies, not just in the support given against James Orengo’s vote of no confidence, but also in the steady buttressing that was supplied to KANU measures in that parliament and in the constitutional efforts of the turn of the century.

The less transported among Raila’s supporters try to hide their discomfort by euphemizing his irresolution, or more frankly his deceitful nature, labeling these ‘tactical political moves’, strategies aimed at reaching political goals. But even they must be wearied by having to constantly explain his capricious nature, a task that is not made any easier by the ODM’s pretensions to the status of ‘reform party.’

Contiinue riding on a wave of british -pleasing nothingness and incendiary rhetoric. you and your maina kiai types

Kenya ni yetu sio yenyu -you can go live in london like Githongo

Joanne Jan 23, 2003-

Come on now, pull the bourgeoise silver spoon out of your mouth for a second and tell me how what you are spewing is not right wing conservative propaganda that assumes that all people have in the past, and at this present moment access to the exact same resources and that the only thing that holds them back is their laziness.

I would love to see youand anyone else who believes this go and attempt to survive in Kibera for a couple hundred shillings a month. It is on the backs of the poor that this country and so many others have been built - not on the fancy talking, monkey suit wearing clowns who have no concept of what it takes to truly survive.In Non-Violence in Peace and War, Gandhi said “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

We deserve more than a country where fundamental human rights are disregarded at the drop of a hat. Where a first lady can deny powerless people their God given rights to dignity and respect and nothing is done- in fact, intimidation and threats are the order of the day. The rest of us well, we just shake our heads, shrug and laugh about this over nyama choma and beer. There is something wrong with this and there has to be a better way to live.

Uncle Joe Jan 25, 2008-

The ODM leader Raila Odinga is a famous man for his many talents. Foremost among these are his organising and rousing skills. It is true that few politicians in the history of Kenya have had as much ability to provoke their followers to action as has the ODM’s captain. So it is that many Kenyans hoped in earnest that he would be able to quell the violent passion in his supporters, that he would be able to save Kenyan lives by asking that his people restrain themselves, take to the courts and settle disputes particularly those over land in a civilised and non-violent manner. He has pointedly refused to do that, famously insisting to the foreign media that he would not anaesthetize the Kenyan people as they were being raped, and then also shocking the international media by crudely comparing the post-election tragedy with mere post-match skirmishes between the supporters of rival football clubs.

But what is guaranteed to forever tie the opposition leader to the vicious outbreaks of violence against the GEMA ( Gikuyu, Meru, Embu) and the Kamba, is his announcement in Kisumu that, “We should have seven of the 10 parliamentary seats in Kisii, but Kibaki men stole the votes and we only got four. The Kisii are our people. We must not touch them.” I understand that all well-meaning people are unlikely to believe that a national politician would so tacitly endorse violence against sections of the population, but here is the evidence from a newspaper that operates on a similar platform and which quite clearly endorses similar views.

The ODM leader is in these fighting words endorsing violence against those who did not support his party, exonerating those who he has decided voted for him and as a result condemning the others, those non-Kenyans to whatever the wananchi class will decide is their fate. Whereas the Kisii should not be touched, the GEMA and the Akamba who have been the other main victims of this violence, may be touched. This, is the humble pronouncement of a national leader at a rally where he had a great opportunity to take on a reconciliatory stance, to play president and promote an end to the violence. Instead he took to the stage and taking advantage of the people’s emotional state, urged the crowds to come out and fight in the streets.

I am not sure that the people of Kisii would be happy to have their lives saved by these kind words, and we should perhaps not be surprised by Raila’s statement, he is after all the first national politician in Kenyan history to declare an entire fifth of the country’s population ‘adui’. He also bears the great distinction of being the first national politician (in Meru during the campaigns) to promise tears to those who would not vote for him. I do not know how those Luhya and Kisii families who lost their people in the Rift Valley will take to the ODM candidate’s attempt to appropriate for his altar the lives of all those who died in the Rift Valley. I am not sure what they will make of his failure to lament the bows and arrows, he did not lament the burned church, or the doors marked with the ODM 41 slogan he has lived this past year. He has if he was ever uninvolved in the violence and the punishment of dissent, now come out boldly to endorse it.

So it is that we now meet the ODM’s mischevious claim of ethnic cleansing against the government, which move it is promoting at the International Criminal Court. Again the ODM side are told that the state is out to finish them, thus ensuring that they come out again now ready to fight, the already selected enemy, to the death. Paying absolutely no attention to the reports from the Rift Valley, and with a media and civil society missing in action, the ODM Secretary General declares that the State action in Kisumu (which incidentally many local business owners are calling delayed and not firm enough) was both premeditated and designed to kill as many as possible. And Anyang’ Nyong’o is not without inspiration, in his only comment on the Rift Valley attacks to date, the ODM leader Raila Odinga attempted to justify them first by constructing a narrative in which these attacks were a revenge mission, and then declaring that the perpetrators were unaware that those they chasing after had hidden themselves among women and children. So again, we find an endorement of the violence, except perhaps Kikuyu women ought perhaps to be grateful that they are deemed unworthy of the sword and the flame, destiny’s which must now be the left, by the process of elimination to the males of the GEMA and Akamba people.

The Langata MP as I said is famous for his organisational aptitude, and his violent ways, but he is also famous for putting his foot into his mouth. In the same week that it finally dawned on even the most stubborn that the Rift Valley massacres were premeditated, planned and disciplined, his endorsement in Kisumu will make the case for his innocence so much harder to prove.

-PS Joanne my bourgeoise silver spoon has never prevent you or any other person from getting what you want in life .Despite your efforts and other neo liberal types politics in kenya has never been about silver spoons and wooden spoons. You might hide away from the facts but it is luo and kalenjin people attacking and killing kikuyus

maybe you should educate the so called “kenyans you speak for” wake up this is Africa not england or Europe your liberal ideas have no place here .

Joanne: Jan 25, 2008-

Dorothy Thompson said Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.,,,
alternatives ways of thinking too..and on that chipper note Uncle jo, stop your whining and try step out of the box you are in and smell the propaganda and oppression- be the change the world needs. my man, be the change.

Uncle Joe: Jan 26, 2008-

joanne i feel sorry for you and your fellow odm supporters - continue quoting dorothy thompson .250 k kikuyus dont have homes anymore what make you think we want peace with you anymore

Joanne: Jan 28, 2008-

Dear, dear Uncle Jo. I do not have to feel all warm and fuzzy about what you are saying, but I respect and defend your right to say, think and feel whatever it is you choose to - and as long as the peace is mine to share, i offer it up to you unwaveringly. PEACE my brother.

Uncle joe: Jan 28, 2008-

You can take your peace and stick it where the sun dont shine -I dont want to hear your peace it is too late for your peace . No raila no peace remember well its No Raila so you can do what you want with your peace offering we are well passed that stage

Joanne: Jan 28, 2008-

Unwavering peace still being sent your way dear Uncle Jo- far beyond politics and tribal lines- merely peace for the sake of trying something new for a change and because you are human first.

Enjoy your peace filled day sunshine.

Karin Goldschmidt: Jan 31, 2008-

Uncle Joe, you really are N frican - the African of the slave trade hunt-and-sell-your-brother for glass beads type of African.

Uncle joe: Feb 1, 2008-

Karin Goldschmidt i am tired of all you johnny come lately armchair kenyan experts who know everything about kenya just because you watch and read bbc ,cnn and biased kenyan blogs.
what do you know about tribal clashes in 92 97 or even present day kenya. What do you know about the millions who voted for kibaki only to be hacked and brutalized . What do you know about those of us who have turned the other cheek more than twice - what??

What does slave trade have to do with Kenya today apart from the fact that odm trying to sell our souls to their british masters .

I shouldn’t even dignify your post with an answer consider yourself ignored

Karin Goldschmidt: Feb 1, 2008-

For an “ignored”, I seem to have got your hackles way, way up, uj. What slave trade has to do with Kenya to day? Its 500 shillings for this and thatcriminal thuggery, and double that for murder of fellow human being - the glass beads from those who pay that amount or more for perfumed toilette paper from overseas!

Mwangi wa Kimaru: Feb 3, 2008-

Yes very soon those who think perfumed toilette paper from overseas doesn’t have anything to contribute will feel the wrath of funds raised abroad for some good work at home against those who feel they can butcher our people. Karin you don’t know anything about Kenya if anything you colonialist are the problem now just as you were during the slave trade .

Maina: Feb 3, 2008-

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.
(Edwin H. Friedman)

Enough said. I know a lot a bout Kenya, and I know that right now the problem with Kenyans are the kenyans who refuse to see that killing and murdering other humans is wrong. I do not care if it is a kikuyu killing a kikuyu, or aluo, or a is wrong. Wrong is wrong uj..that is all there is to it. So get smart brother, or get extinct.



January 31, 2008


Growing up in Kenya in the eighties, there were certain things we children took
for granted. Kenya for instance.

Unlike our parents who were born into the British Empire and who watched the
uncertain birth of the country and for whom the country was a continuous experiment
with the ever present possibility of failure, a fragile thing that had only just come into
being and might very well go out of being, we children knew Kenya as a fait accompli,
immense, indestructible, unchangeable, a fact of life. We had been born into it and it was
all we knew. For us, it had always been there, and there was no reason to imagine

But apparently the creators of the Kenya schools’ syllabus along with our teachers
shared our parents’ sense of the fragility of it all. Every morning at school assembly we
would sing patriotic songs, the songs of new nations, songs that spoke of belonging, of
ownership. We sang the national anthem and recited the pledge of loyalty and we were
made to repeat the mantra of nation over tribe. We are all Kenyans. Kenya is more
important than tribe. There are no Kikuyus or Luhyas or Miji Kenda. Only Kenyans.

To my eight year old mind, this notion was self evident, a truism. My friends were
from all over the country. It never crossed my mind nor did I ever see the need to seek
out my tribe mates for company nor did I ever feel any particular affinity for them.
People fell into two categories only, people I liked and people I did not like.

When at home I would hear my parents talking in terms of tribe, ascribing certain
values and traits wholesale to one group of people (Kikuyus especially, but later
Kalenjins as well), I would bristle and more than once lectured them, pompous and shrill.
I could not believe that my parents, two people I loved and respected, otherwise
intelligent people, could be so hobbled still by such a retrogressive and manifestly absurd

Kenya in the eighties was a highly repressive and oppressive place, a police state
and a single party “democracy.” The presidential ballot had only one guy on it and your
choices such as they were, consisted in putting the perfunctory X by his name or
foregoing voting altogether. President Moi, self-appointed father of the nation and the
only guy on the ballot was, he assured us, limiting our choice for our own good. He was
saving us from ourselves, from the dark repository of ethnic chauvinism that dwelt deep,
or not so deep inside us. Should he be so remiss as to give us a choice, we would all be
terrified by the contents of that Pandora’s box. We would become our neighbours; the
basket cases of Uganda or Ethiopia or Congo or…Kenya was an island of peace in a
storm-tossed sea of ruin brought on by tribe. In the event, there was something in the old
man’s prophecies of doom and gloom.

The first nominally free election in Kenya’s history in 1992 was a resounding
QED. The Kikuyu voted in numbers for Kenneth Matiba whose incoherent and
cringeworthy ramblings in the press cast serious doubt on his sanity. This man whose
health, especially his mental health was highly questionable, was propelled to within a
hair’s breadth of the presidency thanks solely to his tribesmen. It gave me pause.

In Kikuyu constituency, 40,000 constituents voted for the MP on a Ford Kenya
ticket. The presidential aspirant on the same ticket, a Luo, Raila Odinga’s father, could

manage only a few hundred votes. This gave me even more pause. Mr. Moi for his part
could barely restrain himself from self righteous I told you sos.

But the years of deliberate detribalisation would not go gentle. I refused to see the
country in terms of competing and antagonistic tribes. I was a Kenyan. We all were. I felt
Kenyan, not Luhya. Our fates were tied to each other, whether or we liked it or not. We
would prosper as Kenyans or dig our collective grave as tribes. After all, we had bigger
concerns, concerns that cut across any and all lines; corruption, the crumbling economy,
education, infrastructure. The unreconstructed tribalists among us were of the old guard,
my parents’ peers and they were lost causes anyway. My generation were bigger than

In his analysis of the Rwandan genocide, Mahmood Mamdani talks of a ‘popular
genocide,’ of mass killing perpetrated by an entire population, of a nation of criminals.
Before the 1992 elections in Kenya, two genocides were well under way in the Rift
Valley and at the Coast. In both cases, the main targets were Kikuyu, the perpetrators
Kalenjin and Miji Kenda. In the Rift Valley and the Coast, a population of criminals was
born, much as is happening now. I could not then drive through Eldoret without
wondering which of the men walking down the street had blood on his hands. And
because I couldn’t tell, I hated them all. Even as the elections had sown my distrust of the
Kikuyu, the killing made me loathe the Kalenjin. I was terrified at what was happening,
of the utter impunity of it all and I was angrier than I have ever been. I was becoming my
parents. Now, when they spoke in broad generalities, I held my tongue.

Now the killings have started again. The Kikuyu, the people most Kenyans love
to hate, are being hounded from their homes and killed. My grandfather’s shops in my
village in Western Kenya, rented out to Kikuyu businessmen have been looted and

Yesterday I read an article which detailed the vast conspiracy of hatred and
murder in Western Kenya, of professionals and peasant farmers and shop keepers taking
up arms and slaughtering their neighbours, of young braves waiting by roadsides for their
prey. Unashamed, unrepentant. I am angry again and again I am terrified. Talking to my
parents over the phone, I can the fear in their voices.

Years of living together and the constant, even casual betrayals we have inflicted
on each other have made us wary and suspicious. But the sort of feeling that allows
people to casually butcher each other, to kill unarmed women and children, to transform
erstwhile friends and neighbours instantly into objects of hatred upon which any horror
can be justly inflicted is something I find hard to grasp. Is it mere opportunism? Or real
hatred in all its obscene glory? What are we doing to ourselves that allows such animus to
exist in our midst, within such easy reach, so accessible and so close to the surface?

I am no longer the unmitigated Kenyan I once was. And now I can see every
straining seam, every rivet and every joint that holds us together. And I no longer take it
for granted that they will hold.

Andia Kisia, a writer and perpetual student, is a member of the Concerned Kenyan Writers Initiative. Her fiction has appeared in two editions of Kwani?


January 29, 2008


When peace erupted, none of us was ready.
You remember how the sticks above our heads
were gently lowered, how our riot gear
was sloughed-off like a skin? We rubbed our chins.
And yet, the dead, they didn’t rise.

Do you recall the day the grandmas of the Rift
embraced the grandsons of Nyeri,
when the youth were given grants to raise
manyattas they had razed? We rubbed our eyes.
But still, the dead maintained their peace.

Think back: the way the Lake and Ocean rose to kiss Mount Kenya’s
The glossy adverts in the Nation and the Standard:
We congratulate our leaders for restoring
Peace and Unity, and all is well in Neverland?
The dead began to wake.

Do you remember how they asked us to forget?
In 4-by-4s, Big Men from each and every province
drove a web across the land, their shining
megaphones proclaiming: Back to work!
The dead were spinning.

And the bishops and the diplomats, the councillors
and businessmen, they gathered for a conference
outside the new Grand Regency and told us
It was all a dream, an error, so now nothing needs be done,
some things just die, are best forgotten. No? Come on!!
You must remember how the landless and the jobless dead
erupted from their coffins with a shriek?
You don’t remember?! Let me help you.
Hold this gun. I have a cutting. Take a peek.

Stephen Partington, is the Kwani? poetry editor and a member of the Concerned Kenyan Writers Initiative. The poetic thoughts expressed here are his own.


January 26, 2008


Poverty is the worst form of violence. At its own worst, it is a form of slow genocide. For an example, take the fact that the vast majority of the Native Americans “rubbed out” in the American genocide died (and still die) not from settler bullets, but from poor diets, disease, poor-on-poor crime, stress-related illnesses caused by predatory lending and the like. In short, they are killed by the condition of being poor.

Girls are affected the worst, as it exposes them to all sorts of deprivations that lead to temptations and inducements resulting in angry, enervated young women. Even as an adult, a person raised in poverty often suffers a certain furtive sense of shame and anger that they can never quite shake off. Years of “no” and “not enough” force them to ingest a bitter diet of silent rage, frustrations, thwarted dreams, hurtful choices and humiliation as their parents age prematurely before their eyes, and their siblings learn to mask all feelings of disappointment. It is violence at the deepest psychological, spiritual and emotional levels, long before it becomes physical. I know. I’ve been there. In Kenya.

If Kibera is indeed the world’s biggest slum (I don’t know who measures these things, or how), then it is currently also the biggest single act of violence against African people, carried out over the longest period of time.

The recent magic tricks at Electoral Commission of Kenya (how to breed votes and then count them in the dark; how to speak out of both sides of your mouth, and other marvellous wonders) and the subsequent orgy of gratuitous blood-letting, have given rise to expressions of grief, shock and anger from the Kenyan intelligentsia, in a way that leaves me truly mystified. Have they not been paying attention? If money and land meant for the poor can be stolen from them, then why not votes? If it became a four-decade normality for children to grow up sharing the eating of rotting oranges from garbage skips, why on earth should they not share more direct forms of violence? Having grown up witnessing Kenya’s normalising of the grotesquely abnormal, my only surprise was that these acts -from the rigging, itself, to the rape, pillage and murder- took so long to reach this particular nadir. Kenya was and is an atrocity a long time made and a catastrophe a long time coming.

“There are no stories in the riots, only the ghosts of stories”, as some wise black British woman said of Brixton and Handsworth, a long time ago.

I should declare an interest: though I spent some critical formative years living both near the top and the bottom of Kenyan society, I am not Kenyan. I was a refugee from another atrocity called Uganda, and part of a very politically engaged community that was actively fomenting armed rebellion back home. Since our flight was political, we came to Kenya with a heightened interest in politics generally and were fascinated by the way in which the Kenyatta and Moi regimes were achieving through “sowing acres of cynicism” (to quote Okot p’Bitek, another Ugandan refugee) what Amin and Obote could only attempt through planting killing fields.

Honourable Mwai Kibaki was a particularly interesting study for us. As a graduate of Makerere University, we would wonder if he participated in politics with Ugandan or with Kenyan sensibilities. For me, he answered the question most eloquently when on tour, as a Seriously Big Government Man, of (I think) Kamiti Prison way back in seventies. There had been media talk of increasingly horrific conditions in the prisons, and his visit was supposed to be a fact-finding tour. At one point, as Big Man and Entourage walked through the prison complex, a prisoner displayed incredible dignity and courage by stepping out in front of him, and trying to hand him a letter sealed in an envelope. The prison official next to Hon. Kibaki intercepted the convict’s outstretched hand, took the envelope and pocketed it. According to the news report, Hon. Kibaki paused, watched the entire incident, and then carried on with his “fact-finding”.

Forget about the botched attempts to write a new constitution, forget about the failure to follow up on the Canary Patni Goldenberg song, forget even about the indignity of swearing-in at twilight (quick question: was that really a Bible he was holding up? It looked suspiciously like a pricey desk diary to me. You never know, given the indecent haste), as kids watching their elders paying a much higher price to be in politics, we felt that was a most pathetic display of craven indifference. In truth, looking back, it was at that moment that Hon. Kibaki for me disqualified himself from being president of anywhere or anything. It’s just that nobody realised it, or thought about it hard enough. Now look where we have ended up.

EDITORS NOTE: The views expressed here are those of KALUNDI SERUMAGA and do not in anyway represent the political stand of Kwani? or that of The Concerned Kenyan Writers Initiative.

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