Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Women always raped in conflict. Violence is violence whether in Kenya, Syria, The Middle East or DR Congo


The status of my mind
I don't know about you but  the weight of so much violence around the world has reached an unbearable level. I look at it from individuals to countries and the last few weeks have been so shocking that courage to ask for bettter things must be drawn from events of these days or else our spirits will weaken.

Girls
I am sure you were angered by the attack on Malala of Pakistan. And then there was Anusha whose parents burned her with acid because she smiled or talked to a boy. She died a horrible death. Oh, if only we could let love riot!  Cultural and religious complexities. Not so easy. Jerusalem is named after peace.

Women
Rape. Ten women in Kenya have joined the legion of so many raped women in the world. Raped in times of conflict and of peace. "Women are condemned to not only see their children die in war, their husbands and sometimes their femaile friends but to also have their wells of life poisoned with rape.Sometimes they are infected with the HIV/virus. In this way their minds and souls are shattered and their lives broken and in the end, they have to get up again and continue to hold the nation together, a task they were already doing for thankless people, when the enemy got them down."

The ten women that are reported to have been raped in Kenya in the last few days are not just ten. Ten is the figure of a few who speak up. They are not just ten because in many situations rape is not reported. We have a poor record of dealing with rape that is reported. The result is that women who were raped in during the Post Poll violence which we suffered in 2007/2008 have not found justice. They have been left infected with HIV/Aids and soon, even their story will tire us. We shall not want to hear. The signs are all there. Politicians are abandoning political parties to join new ones for political convenience. Parties have been sold and bought.

 
Wars
 The face of war is terrible anywhere in the world. Look at how the Middle East has been shattered for years. It is incomprehensible in away that nations will accept wars to happen. It is clear that even if we keep saying women and children should never be attacked, they and children bear the brunt of any war. Lyse Duset of the BBC wrote a story that makes one ask self what they are living for if these things continue to happen in our world today. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18951552. Indeed the UN has not much to show for success today for even if a ceasefire comes in the Middle East tonight, this spot has been in conflict for most our lives. This is a conflict that was born pretty much at the UN. But today Banki Moon looks exhausted and yesterday Kofi Annan had to leave Syria still broken. What is that the world needs then? What are some of the earliest signals we can read in a place before war breaks? The DR Congo is at war now but we hardly hear much about DR C unless things are at their worst.

Kenya
Kenya is not at war but deaths and scenes of conflict in Garissa were compared to those in Syria today by some Members of Parliament. Rapes. Tomorrow shall we say that we had not foreseen it if Kenya should come apart? An alarmed investigative journalist Mwenda Njoka penned his last column in a local paper regarding the attack of politician Kingi on an election platform in Mombasa and stated that this has not been seen before in Kenya and that it was a sign of worse things to come. Since then a politician has been stabbed in the back during a rally in Nyanza and a few more have been attacked in similar ways. A political activist Okiya Omtatah endured a terrrible assault last week. Scores of people have died in different violent situations. But are we willing to learn and accept the truth?
 
The two main politicians summoned before the International Criminal Court ICC for the problems of violence that beset Kenya during the last election are working to be the elected leaders of Kenya next year. For this and all the violence going on Kenya is not in a good place. In August hundreds of people died in the Tana River District in what turned out to be politically motivated killings. Last week the deaths of 43 Kenyans in Suguta Valley has not been explained. Worse still, it seems the government thought the cause was the usual cattle rustling as we have called it for ages, but it is not. Nobody has been clear on what is really going on. A grenade attack on November18 has unlike the many previous ones thrown by people thought to be part of Al Shabaab which Kenya sent the militatary to Somalia to finish has sparked a two day long battle between what some people seem to see a Christians versus Moslems. People, among them politicians are dismayed.  http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1624454/-/xa8thdz/-/index.html

What is disturbing is that this is one country which can make it but which it seems is determined to go the way of a failed state. I did not want to say to go the way of Somalia because Somalis are taking enough blame for all the grenaded thrown by Al Shabaab fundamentalits, but Paul Muite had once in great frustration in Moi days declared that Kenya would go the Somali way. The way of becoming ungovernable. We escaped it then although we have to say that in 2002 when Narc took power under the leadership of Mwai Kibaki and on the platform of reform it appears that the country took things easy and expected change to just happen. In fact, taking things easy is the wrong phrase to use. The newly elected government began to behave just like the one it had dethroned. You have to read Michela Wrong's It's Our turn to Eat, the story of a Kenyan whistleblower and hear an insider's story to believe this.

But let me give one hard stare at Kenya. There are some disturbing facts. Early on the morning of June 10th 2012, Kenya's Internal Security Prof George Saitoti, and his deputy died in a helicopter crash. Since then it has transpired that this may not have been an accident. It has been said that the National Security Intelligence Service have asked for reports on the matter not to be released. It is also said that doctors and other experts working on the matter have received warnings not to divulge their findings. But what else is not being faced after these deaths? What are we hiding from in the country? What are we not able to face and name right now? I ask these questions because it seems clear that there is a lot that we do not want to, or have not wanted to face.

George Saitoti in a last meeting with his colleagues in Mombasa had said that there are some people in Parliament who are ready to use militia gangs to get votes to remain in power. I ask these questions because so many of the currrent Kenyan politicians including the president have had long experience in Kenyan political life and have the responsibility to leave the country stronger not weaker. It is a sad thing to watch to many  opportunities lost in Kenya. It is a sad thing to watch a country which was before 2007 if not completely peaceful, well at least filled with hope. Today if one reads the newspaper articles and comments  made on them, it is very clear that Kenyans are losing hope, are tired and are even as they wish for better times are becoming more and more uncertain regarding what is really going on and who has their interest at heart.  I ask these questions because those who care need to train their eye in Kenya more closely. We do not want to pretend that we are taken by surprise should things go worse than they are.

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.