You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.
According to Funua, Maina Kiai has suggested that there are only two ways out of the current impasse:
- Zimbabwe style, where the state dominates, and we live in fear under a dictator. (Kibaki seems like a really dangerous dictator for the ways that he is an inefficient one)
- Ivory coast style, where the country is broken up, and we have internecine wars. (if the talks fail the revenge will killings continue. In which case I hope the U.S. Senate bill passes and there are asset and visa freezes on PNU and ODM leadership’s assets abroad so they have to die in Kenya with the rest of us)
I think there are many other options before that.
- Kibaki and Raila actually sort themselves out, agree, form a coalition government for however long, change the constitution, have elections and set about healing the country with the best that both parties have to offer. Strong economic fundamentals from the PNU side and just equitable redistribution of resources from ODM side. (the ideal plan for Kenya on all fronts and from the looks of it, perhaps God will save us all)
- Kikuyus within the PNU revolt from Kibaki’s rule and subvert him by joining up with ODM (good for democracy and hopefully good for ending the ethnic violence)
- ODM breaks up with the constituent ethnic groups opting to go it alone leaving Kibaki to rule albeit without the numbers in Parliament. (crap option for democracy but perhaps good for ending the violence?)
- Kibaki croaks, Kalonzo is president for 90 days, new elections where ODM wins, and hopes that Kalonzo can keep a lid on Mungiki for long enough to have a new election.
- If Raila croaks we are all screwed. for a long long time.
By MARTIN KIMANI
Special Correspondent (East African)
The next revolution in Kenya will not be a violent one, contrary to the bloodletting presently underway. Rather it will be the rejection of the generation of men from whom the leaders of this country have been drawn.
The major politicians were in politics long before the majority of Kenyans were even born and who even today enjoy inordinate sway in the country. President Mwai Kibaki was born in 1931. Ex-president Daniel arap Moi was born in 1924.
They are still doddering on, unable to relinquish the reins of the power they have held onto tightly for half a century.
Theirs is a generation steeped in tribal arithmetic, in a cynical nationalism; their values have infected those thousands of young people who are roaming the countryside in a killing frenzy.
The young men throwing stones and shooting arrows and the youthful riot policemen opposite them lobbing tear gas and firing live ammunition are fodder for the failed politics of a generation of old men who may just take all of us to the grave with them.
I was raised to respect my elders and there are many whom I indeed respect. But the time has come to assess in the broadest and most personal terms how the generation of leaders that took this country from independence to the bloody and dangerous present has performed.
The oldest were born in the 1920s and the youngest of the lot in the 1940s — opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was born in 1945 is the youth wing of this generation. They can be counted as a single generation in the sense that their vision of what constitutes Kenya and their role in it is widely shared.
This generation has played and continues to play a prominent role in politics, in our intellectual life and in the business community.
While there are many among them who are capable and well intentioned, the defining characteristic of this generation is failure in leadership.
It is not enough to lay the blame on a few individuals. These prominent wazee (old men) have defined for us the content of our politics and the ethics of governance. They are our very own Boomer Generation except that the boom in this instance is the sound of our dreams and aspirations exploding. It is time we named them Generation Disaster.
It is a popular pastime to compare Kenya’s performance in economic and human development terms with that of the Asian Tigers such as South Korea and Malaysia. How often I have heard it said that these countries in economic terms were neck and neck with Kenya in the 1970s, only for them to surge ahead in the past three decades while Kenya trod water and in many instances retreated on the advances it had made.
The approximately 3 per cent of Kenyans who are above the age of 65 and from whom the bulk of Generation Disaster is drawn, have led us to an average life expectancy of 55 years compared with South Korea’s 77 and Malaysia’s 72 — according to the online Institute World Guide, which allows country comparison of economic data.
The economic numbers are even more dire. Kenya’s gross domestic product of $38 billion as of 2005 is only a fraction of Malaysia’s $287 billion and South Korea’s $1 trillion. Per capita, Kenyan citizens have only 12 per cent of their Malaysian counterparts’ income and 6 per cent of the South Korean GDP per capita of almost $23,000. At the turn of the century, 40 per cent of Kenyans were unofficially unemployed compared with fewer than 4 per cent of Malaysians and South Koreans.
These statistics, we can suppose with reasonable confidence, have deteriorated in the past three weeks and they mean that Kenya can count itself first among equals only if compared to the Congos and Guineas of this world. Our leaders’ vision is only to be lauded if compared with countries that have experienced genocides and decades-long civil wars.
Yet this generation, which touts its anti-colonialist credentials, its Kennedy Airlifts (the US scholarship programmes of the 1960s), its Makerere (university) pedigree and its ambassador-at-30 mentality has only managed to take us from one disaster to the next.
I grew up hearing about the inferiority of one tribe as against the other, in jokes that now seem like macabre warnings of a day when they would become deadly serious. My elders were ever focused on their belly buttons. Not for them to learn from the experiences of other countries — especially the disasters that were unfolding around us and sending refugees by the thousands into our country.
Their language was a curious construction. “The Kikuyu are now in power,” they would say even though I hardly saw a penny from this so-called power. “The Kalenjin have taken power,” they complained as President Moi stepped into State House, “They will finish us now for sure.” “The Luos can never rule this country; the Kikuyus are thieves; the Luhyas don’t know how to take power…”
This language is what has given birth to the present crisis and has underpinned the governance of this country since Independence.
Such a leap into the illogical, for our generation of leaders, is the very basis of logical thinking when it comes to apportioning power and privilege among themselves. It has served them well, this spokesman-of-the-tribe role.
It is the position that has enabled all those Mercedes Benzes to be bought from the proceeds of Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing and the dozens of financial schemes to rob the Treasury in the name of fulfilling the privileges of tribal mandarin.
Though they developed these roles before the majority of us were even born, their thinking has infected us all. Say what you will about the opposition, it too is a gathering of “spokesmen of the tribe” challenging a government largely constituted from similar material.
The one thing that such politics will not deliver to this country is the kind of vision and leadership that led South Korea and Malaysia from poverty to wealth. We may continue chasing “those people” from one area or the other and supporting the powerful on the basis that they are “our people,” but perhaps we only need to remember that the cost in lives is borne by individuals.
What does it matter that there is a Kikuyu president when you are a Kikuyu living in Nairobi’s Mathare slum? This generation of wazee has infected the country with its self-serving obsession with ethnicity as politics and politics as ethnicity. It has lived longer than most Kenyans can expect to live and yet it refuses to exit the stage.
Generation Disaster has repeatedly turned down opportunities to appeal to our better natures. It has chosen advancement from enmity rather than from strengthening our bonds.
Fear and suspicion are its stock in trade. These wazee sap on the blood of the young and seek gratification of their lust for power even if it leads to the destruction of this fragile, injured thing we call Kenya.
Why exactly should we respect this generation that has lived longer than most of us can expect to live and yet refuses to exit the stage, like an ill-mannered guest who insists on staying an extra night?
I remain completely in admiration of Githongo. One of Kenya’s true patriots!
I also am fascinated by his definition of ethnicity in contemporary Kenya. He says, “Today, ethnicity in Kenya means politicised kinship more than it does anything else; a kind of overpowering identity informed by grievance, a sense of being wronged, of being under siege”. He further adds that, “Politics caused the violence, and the violence has deepened the politicised ethnicity – but the politics came first”.
Another interesting take on ethnic identity is Kenya comes from one of my favorite writers, Binyavanga Wainaina. I have assigned this essay as the first assignment in my African Politics class.
His recent essay in the New York Times titled “No country for old hatereds” is phenomenal.
The ongoing systematic use of sexual violence in Kenya is more than disturbing.
Rape is ever increasing in Kenya and women have borne the brunt of the ongoing violence.
Sexual violence has also been reported against men, with the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi on 2 January saying several men had been admitted after they were assaulted during the violence.
Gang rape is also a weapon of choice in the ongoing violence.
What kind of animals have we become and will we ever recover!????
Make Way for the Moderates
Dr. Laila Macharia
The tragedy of the current political crisis is that otherwise balanced and patriotic individuals, against their better judgment, have allowed themselves to be swept into a frenzy of irrational fear and rancor. The way out for all of us businessmen, hawkers, churches, schoolchildren ‐ is to openly adopt and advocate moderation.
Moderates uphold truth, quashing rumour and innuendo but never shrinking from voicing reasoned opinions. A principled leader, the moderate names injustice wherever it is. So one admits the election process was flawed and everely compromised the mandate and legitimacy of the current president. But one also condemns wanton destruction of property and abhors killings whether in the smoldering villages of the Rift Valley or by a policeman’s rifle in Kibera. Moderates see only the shattered lives and dreams of Kenyan families.
A voice of reason, the moderate refuses to be drawn into the zero‐sum game of finger‐pointing and division. Moderates speak of Kenyans and seldom refer to ethnic groups. Moderates don’t dwell on who they voted for in the last election. Their conversations are not about whether their former candidate is right or wrong, but whether the election can be made good so that we can all truly move on.
Moderates seek lasting peace. Moderates do not push other people’s pain under the rug. Moderates listen.
Moderates accept that our governance structure today is inadequate for the people we have become and that we have failed to give everyone a stake in our nationhood. Regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, race or physical ability, every Kenyan needs to know they are at home here, that we cannot move forward without them nor will
we leave them behind.
Moderates speak hope for Kenya. If Kenya is in a hole today, they have committed to stop digging. The moderate rejects propaganda and does not pass on inflammatory or alarmist text messages, negative prophecies or doomsday scenarios. He does not dwell on who did what to me. The moderate examines himself instead to see if he has any role in the mess we are in and what amends he should make. He says “I was wrong” and “I’m sorry”.
Moderates seek first to understand. They forgive. Moderates are young, old, black, white, Asian, Arab, multiracial. Taita, Kalenjin, Somali, Luo, Turkana, Luhya,
Kikuyu, Giriama, Pokot. Moderates are everywhere – selling makaa, running banks, rebuilding slums, overseeing construction sites, hanging off the climbing frame, in displacement camps, job‐hunting, comforting, healing.
Moderates talk to strangers. They create community. Those who hire seek a workforce looks like the face of Kenya. Before speaking, moderates weigh their words to build the Kenya they want to see. Politicians often have a different agenda from the average citizen. Yet, no leader can survive without the support of regular wananchi. Refusing to join the race to the bottom, the growing movement of moderates seeks to take back territory from hardliners by taking a stand for Kenya.
Are you a moderate? To join your voice with others of moderation and hope, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I really had a lot of hopes pinned on this growing middle class that they would prevail in politics. I had hoped that the swelling ranks of these would do two things: 1.keep the elites honest, 2. and inspire the lower classes that life’s conditions could improve in Kenya.
1. The middle class depends on efficient government systems and is so impatient to move up the ranks of wealth that I expected they would hold Kibaki’s regime to task on issues of corruption. To a large extent this expectation was borne out. Doing business did get easier in Kenya and for the first time government seemed to respond to the needs of local entrepreneurs not just the World Bank. Many of my friends started or expanded their businesses and acquired many of the trappings of the middle class.
2. The expanding middle class meant more and more Kenyans were moving up from the poorer classes. But I guess not enough of them were moving up since ODM was able to mobilize a full half of the voter register to vote for change. ODM’s rallying cry was more equitable distribution of resources. Clearly that message resonated with half the country. How come? Why does ODM draw so much of its support from this very same middle class?
Is it a case of the middle classes expecting too much and being disspointed by Kibaki’s 6% growth?
Is it that the arrogance of the Mt. Kenya mafia did not augur well with this emergent middle class with its values of egalitarianism? Did the Mt. Kenya mafia represent a glass ceiling of opportunity that the emergent middle class knew could never be broken?
Or perhaps the reason is best found the BBC report that “around 60% of Kenya’s population of 37m lives on less than a dollar a day and although Kenya’s GDP has been growing for the past three or four years, many of the other economic and social indicators have dropped.
Kenya slipped five places in the 2005 Human Development Report, life expectancy has fallen (WHO) and Kenya is seen as one of the 20 most corrupt countries in the world (Transparency International).
Still, what about that middle class?
The following are the speeches delivered Thursday by President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga when they met for the first time since the outbreak of violence.
Kibaki: I’m committed to dialogue
“I know you are all deeply concerned, as I am, about the violence, loss of innocent lives and destruction of property that have afflicted some parts our nation since conclusion of the general elections.
As I pointed out after being sworn in as your duly elected President of Kenya, I will personally lead our country in promoting unity, tolerance, peace and harmony among all Kenyans.
To this end, I remain committed to dialogue and reconciliation at all levels of our society. The Government therefore, welcomes the eminent African statesmen and woman, Mr Kofi Annan, Mr Benjamin Mkapa and Mama Graca Machel who have come to facilitate dialogue within our constitutional and legal framework.
As Government, we are determined to get to the underlying causes of these unprecedented events and to lead the nation in a process of healing, reconciliation and lasting harmony.
My Government remains committed to its primary duty of protecting the lives and property of all Kenyans and to providing an enabling environment for the enjoyment of all our fundamental freedoms. I appeal to all Kenyans to remain calm and to shun violence as we endeavour to find solutions. I have confidence that together our resilience, unity and determination will make it possible for us to overcome the challenges.
Thank You and God Bless You.
Raila: We are ready to walk the extra mile for the sake of peace
“I have said in the past that we are ready to walk an extra mile for the sake of the country. Today, we have taken the first step in seeking a solution to the dispute whose consequences have ravaged the country. I want to state that my party and I are prepared to take this journey to ensure that justice and order are achieved and respect of democracy is restored in this nation.
I want to praise the African Union for taking the first step in seeking to end the violence and fighting in the country that arose from the disputed election results.
I pledge to all Kenyans that my team and I will spare nothing in resolving this dispute.
I urge all of you to be patient and uphold the spirit of brotherhood as we continue holding talks.
You can be sure that the negotiations will not last any day longer than it is supposed to be.
Kenyans have suffered, people have died and there is pain and hatred everywhere. Kenyans are angry and they want to see justice being respected in their country.
We in ODM are ready for talks because we cannot achieve justice without negotiations. I have met Hon Kibaki. We have talked and agreed to continue holding talks until we resolve the dispute.
We want peace, an end to suffering and hatred among Kenyans.
We are seeking for a just solution that would satisfy all people.
Thanks, once more.”
Ushahidi now has a local number where you can SMS incidents of violence or report on peace efforts. The number is 6007 (normal SMS costs apply).
Ushahidi.com is a tool for people who witness acts of violence in Kenya in these post-election times. You can report the incident that you have seen, and it will appear on a map-based view for others to see. We are working with local Kenyan NGO’s to get information and to verify each incident.
What you can do is get the word out about Ushahidi so that it’s utilized to it’s full potential. This especially extends to talking to the people that you know who have seen things in Kenya and getting them to the site as well. You can also help by using the contact form to volunteer to help with the tracking and verifying of each incident.
I wanted to share this information from Jen in a fresh post:
A few highlights:
“Abbas Milani, research fellow and codirector of the Hoover Institution’s Iran Democracy Project, writes that ‘democracy is a gift only a nation can give itself.’”
“In the case of Kenya, the United States and other World Bank–contributing countries, according to Diamond, should have taken aggressive corrective actions when Kenya’s anticorruption czar, John Githongo—appointed as Kenya’s permanent secretary for governance and ethics by Kibaki—was forced into exile after numerous death threats. ‘The World Bank,’ per Diamond, ‘should have been more vigilant to ensure that the monies given were aiding efforts to combat corruption and not to enrich those in power.’”
Could it be that the ethnic cleansing that is now going on is quite distinct from dissatisfaction with the elections? Were these attacks planned to occur regardless of who won the vote?
And how are we doing moving forward…. Lets listen to the two main players:
“How can Jesus Christ and his disciples sit in a committee chaired by Judas Iscariot?” -Raila Odinga
“—-” -Mwai Kibaki
watching the ongoing mass action makes one thing clear: There are only two tribes in Kenya; the rich and the poor.
the poor are the ones getting shot across the country. They are the ones lining up for food rations and living in makeshift tents.
The rich attempt to group at Hilton, Stanley and Serena. When things get thick they get into their SUVs and return to their villas in leafy surburbs.
Sarit, Westgate and Yaya remain virtually unaffected.
You can’t find a cabbage in Huruma.
In parliament these guys are quite cordial to each other. they have already started receiving their Ksh I million per month. Its not based on hours worked or whether the economy is functioning. Even when the country falls apart, MPs will be the last people to stop receiving a paycheque.
Kenyan youth, wake up you are being used!!!
In the early days of the U.S. war on Iraq, critiquing Bush was considered unpatriotic.
In Kenya today, critiquing Raila is tantamount to being against democracy.
Why can’t I be strongly patriotic to Kenya, pro-democracy, and still critical of Raila? Even as I abhor Kibaki and his PNU hardliners?
When did we become so ‘either/or’. You’re with us or you’re against us……
Bush led his people into a war that has no end in sight. The parameters of success were not well defined and the bloodletting continues.
What are Raila’s parameters for success? Once he is president then what? His supporters seem to think we can tear the country down and build it back up from scratch. If Somalia hasn’t pulled it off, I highly suggest we don’t try.
In a comment someone posted “ODM shot themselves in the foot when they made their “crusade’ a tribal. They’ve lost the moral authority”
I feel strongly about this one so I wanted to respond in a fresh post.
How did ODM make their crusade tribal? What did they do to make it tribal? At the end of the day most ethnic groups united to vote Kibaki out. Not to vote Kikuyus out (that happened latter) but to vote Kibaki and PNU out. It is PNU who made the whole thing tribal by conflating PNU to GEMA. By pulling this move they put all GEMA people at risk for their own benefit. Kiuks need to be revolting against PNU for the damage they have done that will take generations to undo if ever.
From my sense, Raila didn’t tell guys to go kill Kiuks. His attempts to tell them not to were half-assed and weak, but he didn’t, as far as I’ve seen, tell them to go kill Kiuks. If anything, the rioting in Kisumu proves the opposite. Those guys burnt their own city down.
Now Ruto is a big problem. I really see him at the center of the ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley. If not by commission, by omission. He is the one who has not called off his supporters in the Rift Valley.
Watching news of all that happened today, the violence, the looting, the shootings I can’t help but wonder what is ODM’s plan?
How is the ongoing violence working for them? What are they trying to force to happen? New elections? Kibaki’s resignation? What exactly?
If Kibaki resigned wouldn’t Kalonzo take over since he is V.P?
Does anyone out there know what the plan is?
I understand the end goal is Raila as president but surely, he must know that if he unseats Kibaki in this this way, that is the way he too will be unseated and that will set a precedent for Kenya and how we unseat our presidents.
Political scientists already tell us that one coup guarantees a second. Just look at West African countries.
Political Scientists also tell us that there are powerful demonstration effects within regions. As in West Africa, if one country falls, it inevitably brings down its neighbours. Kenya has escaped the demonstration effects by a whisker since we are already in a bad neighbourhood. Why are we tempting fate?
Are there seriously NO OTHER WAYS of correcting the wrongs that have been done other than the violence currently rocking the country?
I”m scouring the web trying to understand ODM’s logic. someone please help me!
Why do you think Raila would be a good leader for Kenya and what should be his way forward?
Please please refrain from tribalistic b.s. it only makes your guy look bad.
What is his track record?
What do you say to those who claim he is motivated only by a thirst for power?
What do you think he should do to end the impasse now. Not what Kibaki should do but what Raila should do.
I’m convinced that Kibaki is not the best option for Kenya but not convinced that Raila is better. Many of my commentors seem to be strongly pro Kibaki so i’m desperately looking for coherent and logical reasons that you support Raila.
I’m a political scientist and i want to share some insights from scholars of democratic transitions (of which i am one)
1. 45% of contemporary democratizers (globally and in Africa) have experienced at least one episode of democratic backtracking. What Kenya is experiencing now is unquestionably an incidence of democratic backtracking. International observers and the ECK itself agrees that we’ve had rigged elections. Institutions of democracy did not function as they should and we’ve gone back at least ten years in that regard.
2. Half of these cases occur in the first six years of a democratic transition. The timing of this backtracking is again very much within the expectations of political scientists. The 2002 elections were not a guarantee that we had democracy down and we could all go home. The risk of unconsolidated gains has always loomed over us as a country regardless of how comfortable we got with the 6% economic growth rate.
3. Two-thirds of these backtrackers subsequently regain their democratic momentum, typically within three years. This is the critical point for Kenya and why I celebrate ODM’s win in Parliament today. If they mean well for the country they could coerce the Kibaki regime into critical reforms that will weaken the absolute powers of the president and distribute those powers to the legislature and judiciary. Raila has, at most, three years to make a positive impact for the country and to place the country on the road to a full and final democracy. The next three years are critical if Kenya is to finally democratize.
I’m praying that Raila means what he says when he posits himself as a champion of democracy. If he does, he and his ODM MPs better get to work strengthening the institution of Parliament by using it to challenge the Kibaki regime. They also better file a case in the courts challenging the elections, and by so doing, stengthening the institution of the judiciary vis a vis a the presidency.
If things go well, the next three years could see an impressive redistribution of political power from the presidency to the judiciary and the legislature all spearheaded by ODM.
If things go badly ODM will use parliament as a circus in a struggle for personal power. I’m still not convinced that Raila, as head of ODM, is fully committed to democracy and is not just on a personal power quest.
And I’ve totally written Kibaki off so its not even worth discussing hope for the future there.