Internal Security in Kenya
A selfless family rushed to the crash site to save lives. But they were only equipped with soil. Every few minutes there was an explosion. Now experts say the explosions were likely to be from the guns of the bodyguards going off. But press reports also told of witnesses that came out of their houses in Karen to see what was happening as craft flew low at the start and made a strange noise. Again we are told that the craft was smoking and therefore burning while up in the sky. The guns should have been smoking too by then, not exploding but then, the experts have the final say. We are told this was a new chopper. There is great fear that this was sabbotage.
The Internal Security ministry is a sensitive one. The minster, George Saitoti, will be the main focus of what happened on that day. There was even a strange story that the chopper had landed somewhere else, but this is being investigated. The young man who said that was taken for questioning by authorities. From the description of the crafts trail, it appears like the pilot was turning back to the airport when the crash happened at Kibiko Forest, a part of Ngong Forest. But then the pilots did not make distress calls. Did the pilot and the co-pilot both that turning back was possible and a perfect solution only to be shocked by explosions? Were they for some reason drowsy already? Kenyans are asking many questions. What happened? Aviation accident experts have been called in.
He was tight lipped. He was literally brought to power by Moi. Yet was overlooked for KANU nomination for natioanal presidency in 2002 by the same Moi and he felt slighted in public. Responding to a feeling of having been let down, he said, "There come a time (sic) when a in indvidual is less important than the nation. " I have to say it sounded strained in its pronounciation and a philosophy that covered much else that was going on behind the scenes. He was sad to be that individual. It would have been easier to just say, "I am angry... you have overlooked me... " But George Saitoti Kinuthia Muthengi is said to be humble. He would not call anybody names. And yet, to be powerful in Moi's government was to know a lot. He was a Vice president, and finance minister in the cabinet then.
Churches in the mix
There are many churches in Kenya. Much of what religious dialogue is promoting in Kenya and elsewhere comes to stand out during times of tragedies and elections in Kenya have often been tragic. Kenyans need to examine why we are so vulnerable in our beliefs. This applies to the city, the rural areas and beyond borders and not without some fundamentalism from America. Watch it here... and hear "Or something, something, something..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVjO7IKKAr4. It gets hotter with prohets claiming they knew to the name who was going to have which misfortune and when, but they say no names before the tragedy. It is as if prophecy is not more about interpreting reality to the people but about being super.
Some Kenyans are upset about those who are commenting on the Sunday accident. But this is a form of mourning too. Saitoti and Ojode were public figures. People want to know what happened. We still talk about the deaths of many politicians in Kenya. In most of these cases, there has been something mysterious. Kimaathi, Gen. Mathenge, Mboya, Ouko and J.M. Kariuki to name some of them. We are always trying to find out, all the time, what our elected leaders are doing and what they are experiencing because they are accountable to the people. This moment does not change that. The intention is not to deepen the pain of the family but to try and keep the truth in sight, for the truth is something that accompanies us today and ever after.
Accidents and Burials in Kenya
I loathe to call this accident normal but it may well be. If it is, and that is what I think so far, and if it is not both ways our insecurities are confirmed. They come from far too many levels. Political insecurity, infrastrucure that lacks safety, laxity at the highest of levels, and a resistance to read situations and change. The fact that the craft was new and where it was manufactured being beside the point since all indicators are that elsewhere the same make is used safely in the most difficult geographical areas and in difficult weather. What is important is that now that this has happened, were all the regulations on maintaince followed? Did the crew have enough rest, just in case this test found them at their worst? In the last ten years, many Kenyan politicians have escaped such situations by a whisker. Others have died. President Kibaki was once airborne in a chopper that showed signs of trouble but landed. We are not happy to lose these dedicated Kenyans including the crew that saluted their bosses and tried to do their job but never came back to their loved ones.
In Kenya, politicians normally make burials very political, so political it is unbearable. They make burials of politicians and the people political sometimes tempers rising high as at a recent one in which Mudavadi and Raila Odinga differed that all dignity gets swept off. But when politicians die in an accident with their co workers, these get easily forgotten. The media focus has already upset some Kenyans. These are the Kenyans who put themselves in the boots of the families that lost Oyugi, Nancy, Tongei and Murimi and they see inequality. But that is another story. We still have to follow a little bit on the life of a person who has affected the ordinary peoples lives for better and for worse. George Saitoti was aspiring for the presidency and he was on the Kibaki side. Some people in Kenya have already made comments that show how negatively tribal leanings are affecting Kenya even in this. We have to be vigilant. These two leaders did not seem to play open tribal politics. We cannot turn this moment to a contest between the heavy weights of politics from different Kenyan regions. Yet, nothing is clear or has been transparent as we often say in Kenyan politics. It is well nigh impossible to have been part of it for years and to be left clean.
Social media is the new Special Edition
I am concerned about Kenya's future for many reasons, least of which is not the fact that I would like all people to be secure in Kenya. I live in exile in Oslo, Norway. I saw the latest from a couple of articles that touched on aspiring candidates for the presidency. It was all pretty much the same servings. It was about what so and so has done to the other and how each candidate is selling 'shelf'. But mainly, it was about how President Kibaki is now working with Musalia Mudavadi. It was about questions on why he has not endorsed Raila Odinga. It was about how Martha Karua is now talking about her role in the coming of the Kibaki second term which has made some people distant to her candidacy. Facebook comments fleeted by and I saw her comments on about Mother Teresa and our duty to love strangers.
I saw an article about Kiraitu complaining about Uhuru Kenyatta playing foul and deserting him in an accord where Kiraitu thought he would be the kingmaker. The pact had been signed by George Saitoti, Internal Security and Public Administration minister. I thought about George Saitoti and the persistent trait that politicians have to stay in power. I thought about him more because I know he has been long in office since Moi plucked him out of the university and turned the Professor of Math and lecturer into George Saitoti the politician. I have to be honest here and say, I thought about him because I feared that we do not know him well enough as Kenyans after all these years. I have met him. I have seen him in functions. At the Norfolk Hotel (innapropriate) launch of End of Brutal Empire, Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins we were walking around to see the exhibited pictures, Amos Wako, Attorney General then, nudged George Saitoti and they came towards where I was and greeted me. I took it that they had seen me in Agenda Kenya or Development Through Media debates on TV. I remember the Goldenberg scandal and other conversations in which one learns that Kenya is deeply corrupt. How fast such knowledge can evaporate when one becomes familiar with names that are mentioned can be frightening. I know I asked an investigative journalist some questions about powerful persons in business and he told me that some things could not be touched.
Al Shabaab threatens to bring down all tall buildings in Nairobi
We must keep on asking questions
Every ministry has a powerful office of the Permanent Secretary who is said to be the one who really does the work. This has been a good thing where the PS, as we call them is focused. The death of senior politicians where institutions are weak in can lead to serious trouble in weak democracies. We are not too strong. But our energies are challenged and so divided by political and ethinic affiliations, something that the late ministers seemed to try and go against. I do not think that this crash will have the impact of the Rwandese crash of 1994 in which the president dies and the people begins a genocide. The impact of the violence we had in 2007 has been the tearing down of trust in the country and bridges are not easy to build. The late Orwa Ojode was said to have been a quiet bridge builder. He has died with Saitoti. Already here has been tension about remarks made by dififerent people around these deaths. There have already been calculations which in my view fail, that Saitoti had an untenable political position and that this is against a certain group. How come Kenyans are not noticing that in six people we had many from different ethnic groups? Is it that the ordinary Kenyan and where he belongs does not matter? Why are we stuck on the origins of politicians but would so easily forget their actual deeds?
Flags at half mast mourn on polesI would have wished that the three days of mourning would have been days in which the Constitution of Kenya was read by Kenyans in their families and on radio. There is no reason why this cannot be done even in mother tongues. This would seem to mean much more than flags flying at half mast. Sometimes we do nothing creatively or together for fear of raising tension. We have to be more daring. Singing the national anthem is not enough. We need to invest in our mother of all laws and less on persons and how they get on and what they say. Of course I know they have their place, but the more I live in the west the more I see that the place we give ourselves as politician, rich bosses or whatever calibre of importance we consider ourselves to be in, is old fashioned and out of place. It is time for us all to consider how safe we are in all modes of transport for all Kenyans including, those who walk or cycle to work.