Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kenneth Matiba, Masinde Muliro..How power kills resilient Kenya: There are other reasons why Kenya is so divided ethnically

Killed in 1992. Masinde Muliro, born in Kimilili Kenya in 1922, can be described as a great president Kenya never had. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masinde_Muliro

 The sad thing is that he is not the only one. Many leaders have been killed in Kenya. Let us fix our gaze on them that do this for power and shame them! The country is starved of leaders now.Masinde studied in Cape Town, South Africa in 1949 and was surely informed and inspired by Nelson Mandela and other leaders in South Africa. He was an intellectual and a good and happy man. His children were simple at school and they did not flaunt the family wealth.

He would have provided a tribal balance what would have helped heal Kenya. I will not hesitate to say that the late GPO Oulo assassinated on March 5 2009 was another budding leader.  He had recently left the University. He was killed along with Oscar King'ara. These leaders would have helped spin unity across ethnic groups.

Whoever doubts this view is welcome to read up on Harry Thuku (1922)and how he worked form Kiambu (Central) to Kavirondo Gulf. He wanted to form a bridge with Kavirondo and he was stopped by the British. He had raeched the youth orgnisation in Kavirondo, Nyanza-

And what have those who have stayed in power done? They have formed just like Jomo Kenyatta royal families of Kenya. Families who believe they must be at the top. Young people are frustrated by politicians who overstay in leadership.

No excuse for tribalism

We have no excuse none of us, to think that only a person of our own color, ethnic group, sexual orientation and creed can lead a country. To think we are better than our aunt who did not go to school because we have certificates and she got a baby and dropped out of school. Only today a Congress candidate in Virginia was telling the world on radio, at least we heard it it in Norway, that Obama is a Muslim. Oh, man! we used to say when we were young, Americans are so educated! But it was a woman, so... Ohboy? What to say? So old fashioned in this time and age of Internet and connectivity.

Perhaps today's politics bring peace in very few places, especially the huge competition called the election. Of course I love it when people are proud of Obama at home. Why not? Fact. There is something so fundamentally flawed in us that it will never be just about a person but also their religion and their origin?

The world might not listen up, the way it does when someone says Obama was born in Kenya when he was not and insists that is true to the end, when many say that desparation is seeping big in Kenyan politics. Bleeding. This is Kenya, that is America. We do not perish for lack of knowledge.

We know so well where things went wrong or go wrong. But we like to hang on to Achebe's neat statement that "We must find out where the rain began to beat us!" This is strange. We have been saying this for years. Of couse we cannot forget or overlook that Africa was divided from offices in Brussels in 1884 ten years before Kenyatta who became the first president was born. We know it happened to the whole of Africa, but not every single country in Africa is stuck in tribalism, a word we had decided not to even use at the University in literary essays back in the 1980s.

What I know we have different ethnic groups in different countries and Europe has most of the speakers of one language or very few others in one country. Germans, Italians, Spaniards ( I know there is Catalan, Gallego, Euskera and two more) but on the whole the main language is Spanish. Russian in Russia, with variations and the so called minority languages. We know that Eastern Europe has ethnic tensions and has suffered and that mostly people notice differences especially in language.

And while not pretending to be experts in language distribution we know that Africa has over 2300 languages. This is the mother continent and it follows it has many tongues. Kenya alone has over 70, Nigeria 5 87, Rwanda 2, Tanzania 242, and so on.All these languages fall under Nilotic, Hamitic and Bantu. They are different of course. I found I could read some Chechewa in Malawi and am from Kenya and speak Kiswahili. My point is that if we split Kenya for instance along ethno linguistical borders we would not manage. What is in our will to do is to stop emphasising our differences especially the negative ones and this comes from the top. We have to establish a culture of inclusion and act upon it to allow chances to all peoples. We cannot have groups who feel they are never heard.

The President Kenyans never had

I think we need to look closer to ourselves for why our country is starved of leadership at this moment. yes, about 11 candidates are offering themselves for president. Kenyans however are  disgruntled, many of them and they feel that the cleanest choice is not available among the candidates. 

I know one needs to be in politics long to make it so no one will be accepted from outside the political arena. But even as we chose the best available, we must not forget that many people whose ideas and actions could have helped Kenya build a stronger identity as a nation were either silenced throught exile particularly in Kenyatta and Moi days or assassinated. 

And we thought we had seen the end of assassinations. We have lost many people who had a big spirit. People who valued what we call Utu. A humane approach. Most of them were killed. We have lost people who stimulated Ubuntu. People who lay themselvs like bridges, if I may say over troubled ethnic groups which the British left.

I know they are dead. I know Kimaathi Wa Wachiuri was hanged by the Brits and his remains have never been found for burial and closure. But I imagine a Kenya which had a chance to speak to the people and I see it would have been different. All one needs to do to be certain about this is to find words from Kimaathi and see his commitment. His life was fairly short. 31 October 1920 – 18 February 1957 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dedan_Kimathi. Many leaders perished at thsi time. General Mathenge disappeared.

Before that the Brits had incarcerated and killed many others. Mekatilili Wa Menza was a great woman leader. She was exiled and killed in Kismayu for opposing the coming of colonialism. The same thing happened to Waiyaki Wa Hinga. Here we can list also Moraa Ong'iti, Wanje Mwadori, Ndui Wa Ndumbo, Mohammed Khamis Kombo, Mwenyi Jaku, Noosa Hersi, Chief Mbaruk Bin Rashid. So many. From so many ethnic groups, making Kenya resisting. Arap Samoei Koitalel, Arap Manyei, Kimnyole, Arap Turugar. Harry Thuku, Muthoni Nyanjiru and many others.

I know that there are some who say, hmmmm, this is not possible to imagine, they died. But I see the vacuum left by the absence of their voices. We did not only lose them as individuals but also Freedom of Expression. When some of these people were killed also in post colonial times and by African presidents, fear was instilled in those who watched this happen. Entire societies went silent. 

Post independence deaths of Tom Mboya, 1969, JM Kariuki 1975, Robert Ouko 1990, Pio Gama Pinto. We really cannot recover in a long time losses of talented and fabulous people and above all losses which we have never acknowledged on one single day. Losses of life that have not seen justice. This means there are wounds unhealed. The assassination of Mboya in Kenyatta's time left a deep rift between the Luo and the Kikuyu and that bad blood has lasted.
Kenyatta was stoned when he visited Kisumu in 1969. Kenyatta made many mistakes. We cannot afford not to have a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee that can be trusted. Kenya needs healing.

Those who died, feared not to point out that we have a clique of very few rich people and to predict that millions or beggars will follow. JM Kariuki is on record pleading with Kenyatta that he and his cronies and family stop taking so much land in Kenya. He always emphasied that the child in Turkana, Magadi, Kiambu will starve. He spoke about the widows of Mau Mau being desolate and hungry. He was assassinated.

We have had many prisoners of conscience. The mothers of Freedom Corner as we call them stripped naked to demand that their sons are relaeased from prison. Many died in the cell in Moi days 1978-2002). Some fled including writers who were outspoken. These voices are not tapped any more. Examples are: Adulatif Abdala, Yusuf K, Alamin Mazrui Jr. Micere Mugo, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Wangui Wa Goro and others. The silence that became of more tame writing after this is not to be underestimated.

Daniel Arap Moi also owes Kenya the life of Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia. Matiba who had a great following in the country when he led Saba Saba Asili  survived a massive stroke after being denied medication but never had the same capacity he had for leadership before this event. But if he survived the stroke, the young people who many know followed him in great numbers and totally believed in him became the disgruntled Mungiki and other gangs that we see in Kenya today. These and all the others are incredible losses of opportunities. Kenya has bled a lot  at all  levels and continues to suffer.

Wikipedia tells us regarding these two that Kenneth Matiba "... was imprisoned together with Charles Rubia, another leading figure calling for multiparty democracy.Whilst there Matiba was refused medication and suffered a massive stroke, which affected half of his body and incapacitated him for some time. 

Later, a multiparty system was inaugurated and Matiba was released. He was part of the opposition alliance that formed the popular movement by the name Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD)." We do not forget that Masinde Muliro also a politician died unexpectedly at the airport too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Matiba

What shall I say about Bishop Alexander Muge, also murdered in Kenya. I quot from Presidential Awards, a poem by Philo Ikonya, published in Out of Prison-Love Songs, translated into German by Helmuth A. Niederle "Do they never gather to listen to Alexander Kipsang Muge, their colleague? Read his story and celebrate his anniversary with the President ? Bishop Muge had a vision for Kenya. He could inspire beyond the grave but important people do not commemorate him.

Of course when the leadership does not inspire.. .. I am just hearing all the shouting and joy as Obama delivers his re-election speech. " We have not lost hope for America.... I have always insisted that hope is that stubborn thing that lives in us... that insists against all odds... " 

Please, I have not heard anything inspiring from people in power. A nation like I have described above needs this inspiration so badly! I am not saying Obama and the US are perfect but hey, am reminding that his roots are in Kenya! 

At which point I also realise how many truly intelligent people went into alcohol and wasted away or jobs and became silent when they saw how power rapes Kenya!I am filled with stubborn hope, nonetheless.

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