Friday, June 3, 2011

Honestly, President Kibaki!

President of Kenya
Mwai Emilio Kibaki
June 2011

In which direction are you steering Kenya?

It is June 2011. The people of Kenya are starving again. Some have died of hunger and from boiling and drinking the hot juice of poisonous wild berries. This happens as usual in Turkana. I saw the images of starving women and children in 2009. I saw them dying and I could not sleep. I screamed. I cried out loud with two young men. We were arrested and accused of Illegal Assembly. Three people in an assembly? We are out on bond for many similar arrests.

The next day we saw your sleek motorcade heading out of State House. We tried to tell you our pain but you could not be reached. Your motorcade, just like Moi's, is too powerful and fast. It can crush us to death too. On 18th of February 2009, I was arrested on Parliament Road for explaining to the people that our politicians do not care about our land. That we do not starve for lack but because of greed. Your friends do not tell you the truth many people say, but do you not see for yourself?

Besides the hunger and the thirst to death, many people in Kenya cannot afford the prices of food today, and that has been proven to be due to corruption on prices. It is not about the price of oil from Libya and if it were, we also know that you have not addressed the question of oil prospection in Kenya properly. You preferred to work with China on this. China is slow to find oil for us for very obvious reasons. Her company, the media and others told you in 2006, drags its feet on this. Canadian companies took a shorter period to find oil in neighboring Uganda which is now bullying our islands and you are quiet.

Mainly since you are a graduate of the London School of Economics and you endured much under KANU, I wanted to hear you speak un-doubting leadership so that the youth of Kenya would stop crying. I wanted to hear your voice regarding the many disappeared youth of Kenya, and specifically in Central Province and if you could not speak, I wanted to see a positive impact of action from your office.

Some say that you have built up good roads in Kenya. This means that more tourists should flock to Kenya to fly around too on Kenya Airways and other crafts. But Mr. President, there are many types of roads in and out of a country. Some say that you are a calm and quiet man who no longer calls his people Pumbavu, and not to be disturbed, but Mr President, I wish I could hear your voice heal Kenya. I wish I could see you talk to her about values that we share. I wish I could see them become part of your legacy. I wish I would not see your mind protecting people summoned by the International Criminal Court. Above all, I had wanted to see the difference between you and the former presidents of Kenya, especially Moi.

When Moi left office, he wanted Uhuru Kenyatta to become the president of the Republic of Kenya. Moi openly said he disliked Raila very much and you have learned from Moi not to heal this hatred, knowing full well that it brings two big communities in Kenya into a confrontation which has tended to define Kenyan politics since it was introduced by the British colonialist in Operation Anvil and many other hideous actions against Kenyans. Where is your wisdom? Are you any different when even after Uhuru Kenyatta features among six men summoned by the International Criminal Court at the Hague for the post poll violence of 2007, you would support him?

Honestly, Kibaki, am so ashamed of you. I have not forgotten that some months ago, you burned my Grandmother’s granary so that you could see the words as you swore yourself back to power on the strength of a flawed election. I cannot forget this because many people, {the government figure is 1, 333} died. 500 000 people, if figures could be so round, were displaced and it has taken time to change their names from Internally Displaced Persons, a name they got overnight when their homes and livelihoods were burnt up in hot fire, to Kenyans who are striving to begin again. The Waki Report is trashed.

I am ashamed of you because you live at a time when the world, especially in Kenya where Justice is supposed to be our shield and defender, the disappearance of even 6 people, should keep you sleepless. But your government shuns the truth about the disappearance of hundreds. Disappearance of people is not to be tolerated in any society, Mr. President. Now, the denial by your government of a report by Philip Alston a Special Rapporteur of the UN, that over 600 young men have disappeared in your time as president in Kenya, is not a footnote to your history. 

I could not care less where these people come from. I do not want to here list names so that I then should continue answering questions just because these people come from one region. No. I ask for them as I would ask for any disappeared human beings in any part of the world. This word 'disappeared' is not to be taken lightly. It is a serious indicator of impunity in a government. A terrible and worrying sign for the future. Disappearances, whether in Chile, Colombia or anywhere follow those in power to their graves. You know, your government has denied consistently, a report on the disappeared people of Kenya, the desaparecidos.

At the London School of Economics and before in Makerere, you were brilliant. In 1978, when Moi could not stand the liberty of the pen, you attended the launch of Petals of Blood, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Traditionally, justice is not foreign to any of us. We know that actually most Afrikan societies believed and pursued justice. Could you please tell me why you do not see what I see or feel what poor people feel? You endured pain under a dictator. I am surprised that in your time, more than any other justice and human rights are so often cited as things from the West and people who stand for them ridiculed and not appreciated. In the community in which you were born in 1932, it is said, and this is still repeated in an active proverb, that one pays here on earth for what is done here on earth. Wathi urihagirwo o thi.

Have you noticed that you pay practically nothing while you set up the rest of the community you hail from up for trouble? Would you be shocked to know that many of us from that region were surprised that you were vying for presidency in 2007? Could plain prudence not tell you how the country was going if the national intelligence did not? Intelligence? They say their reports on the violence awaiting Kenya in 2007 were ignored. How you make our children pay for your sins!

We have our own Kenyan constitution since August 2010. After many years since the first effort to get a new constitution in 1991, we gave ourselves one that is quite different from the Lancaster Constitution. We support and are signatories to many international conventions and organs of justice. We see reason in facing the difficulties of this world with a global perspective. Almost all nations on their own could turn despotic, after all they are ruled by human beings and we all need to watch out. Kenyans have been alive to the course of justice for many years. I am ashamed however, that I have to register in my days the times when this country, Kenya, has been least of what was expected, many years after independence. Why are identity documents such as Identity Cards and passport still an issue in Kenya? Why are millions of youth kept down by this unable to participate fully in their national lives?

Why has the Republic of Uganda disrespected our boundaries? Why are you silent about Libya and the rest of Afrika? Do you not care for our continent? Why would you receive Museveni of Uganda at home while his opponent lay in a Kenyan hospital being treated for injuries caused by Ugandan police brutality? What do you think about police brutality in Kenya? Why did your government secretly invite Omar Al Bashir to the launch of our new constitution? Why did you visit Gadaffi in the past to discuss oil in Kenya when you knew too long he had been a dictator? Why did your government reach out to him to try and kill Kenya's case before the International Criminal Court?

I used to know it in my deepest self, that forty years after independence Kenya would harvest her endless struggles and fill her granaries with wonderful produce, a great name. I was sure I would play my role in bringing this forward. I thought you were one of the most rational persons in our country and I threw my weight behind your unspoken dream in 2002 as did most of the country. We believed what other people said of you- Kibaki tosha. Most of the time you were quiet and watching as if when you got the chance to lead us, we would fly as smoothly as this plane on which am writing this article after so many months of thinking. The craft flies without hesitation.

I have to tell you that since a year and half ago  I have been away from Kenya not out of choice but in exile after my life was made impossible by people who work for you, I have seen so many changes. I have seen how people focus and move their country with collective responsibility step by step to its future. Step by step to its greater security. I have been always in Kenya, in spirit I never left and with the news I see that Kenya marches on the same spot. Marches through the sun and the rain.Marches through winds. Marches in the dust. Marches and marches and marches. You must tell those who are pleased with you to challenge you much more. Psychopancy is not new. As long as mothers fear for their children and for the country, we cannot say you are succeeding!

On 31st December 2010, Kenyans celebrated Six years since the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. You talked about the possibility of reneging this ratification, why?
I have seen that your Parliament has recently moved a motion to withdraw from the Rome Statute. Before this, I had heard you make this consideration as if jokingly many months ago. If the you, as the President of Kenya signs this into law, I will always remember that you sowed the seed of doubt and showed little regard for the ICC first.

On 15th March 2005, Kenya ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Kenya became party to the Statute as country number 98 and today the ICC has 108 members. The Statute entered into force for Kenya on 1st June 2005, a day Kenya celebrates having received internal or self governance from the British in 1963, Madaraka Day.

Coming back to today, if the people who died as a result of post poll violence, normally quoted as 1 333, they maybe more, do not get justice, if the women raped and those 500 000 displaced people do not get justice can we say we have internal self government? We are the ones who have failed to provide justice for them.

But honestly, Kibaki, you know that before December 30th 2007 when the presidential results of the General Election were announced almost in a way that mocked us the people who celebrated your inaugration after your first election in 2002, you never had a doubt about the ICC. Now you do because it does not suit you.  I know that I have seen how you regard the international community as one that bothers Kenyans from time to time, but the signing of a statute is a different matter. Can we really say the people have internal self government today?

I feel that Kenya has sold out our self governance yesterday. Indeed in the first place, the people should have been the main celebrants in the promulgation of the new constitution which we say, we the people of Kenya, give ourselves.” Instead military power took centre stage and we did not even know our full guest list.

In an endless night of watching rights abuse with only a few candles left to burn, I see Bashir astride our lands in Africa, from Chad to Kenya, Cairo and Sudan and I see a graveyard of human rights without hope as Africa looks more to China today. Who will stand with us? The U.S. A is not part of the I.C.C and Europe is being bashed as the colonial past machinery in Africa. Yes, we can stand alone and we did, but how does the world justify international diplomacy, the UN and all the money we pay to have a ministry of Foreign Affairs, and all that Diplomatic Corp in Nairobi from where it serves the Horn of Africa? We are, especially we the women who are raped daily in Congo and in Darfur and other places, betrayed all the time. Where do we begin?

Kenya has bound herself by law to facilitate the work of the ICC because Kenya has signed up to do so. Kenya did not do that. A valid question is, therefore, what does any law, including the constitution of Kenya mean to the Kenyan state? You said we Kenyans are difficult people. Why should we be easy in the circumstances. Honestly, Mr. President, tell me, is your heart concerned about the future generations of Kenya, our children? Really?

I am not writing to ask for presidential pardon which you excercise in your prerogative of mercy as Head of State. I am writing to remind you that we do not need to pray about corruption in Kenya, as you asked us to do the other day. In being against corruption we can answer our own prayers. I am full of questions about where and how you want Kenya to remember you. Remember I was always interested in speaking out and you were once told that when I was introduced to you at the Democratic Party offices where you had an office and they called you Chairman. Even then, I have to point out, you really did not have much time for ordinary people as they are poor. I wish for Kenya, a good change. I imagine that you will not tolerate Kenya falling back into violence in 2012.

Next year we have another General Election, there is little time but we had plenty of it for healing after your election disagreement with Raila in 2007 and 2008 when Kenyans were organised to kill one another because of your votes.

Philo Ikonya
Writer in Exile

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