Friday, July 11, 2014

Kenya at the brink: Could the killings in Lamu & Msa turn into the hot rod that breaks the nation's back? Will you cry genocide after?

In Moi years, 1978 - 2002, and specifically in 1990, Paul Muite, a lawyer and formerly an elected politician used to say that one day, if Kenya continued to brook dictatorship, she would become like Somalia. The people said that was too far fetched. They laughed. That was then. Tonight we cry.

Today many agree that the current government is like Moi's and are not surprised it does not bend its ear easily to those who are not wearing electoral platform shoes and that is a choice Jubilee has made.

Its supporters cheer them on saying that this is right and fitting because they won the presidency (seen as one tribe) by a slim margin against those who wish to dialogue with them now (read the other tribes). But the dialogue issues for most Kenyans and not just the memorandum writing ones include a serious list of loss of life. 

Here we cannot jeer and cheer, but some of us are losing our souls and openly rejoicing in social media at the extinction of our 'enemies'. This hatred may not make faces bleed on Facebook but it stinks of the horrible ugly possibilities of humans against humans.

The deaths of over 70 people in Mpeketoni, Kenya, Lamu County have not been resolved. The president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta said - despite Shabaab owning up for the attack- this was the work of his political opponents, sadly you have to read here, the other tribes. But Shabaab do not claim terror where they are not involved. We are jolly well stoking our own fires.

In 2013 as Kenya voted the country was clearly ethnically divided, now we are hacked in deaths and burials and aspirations. Police are mentioned in the same breath as militia groups. 

Even our fear of the country breaking down does not seem to galvanize us into a national force for we cannot identify, due to the way we have carried out our politics, anything with a semblance to a common enemy. We feed and are our own enemy. We have shown Shabaab a way in via corruption and naive divisions. Lacked leadership in holding the nation as one. 

But was there really a chance for that after 2007 if those who went into power were already seen to have taken sides with their own, used tribal appeal to do whatever they did for the sake of power? Have we been naive? Did we fail the test of values and integrity so badly? Voices of wisdom were heard as those of condemnation.

Whoever said we needed anyone but elected people? The rest have no right to speak to power. Not that anyone has no flaws. Raila Odinga has them of course. He was not elected, we said and he accepted that. But he continues to have, like all of us, despite the existence of a senate and parliament, an eye, a voice and a keen following.  Those in power like to remind him he has none of these things. Kenya needs external help to recognize herself. 

None of this is new. We have been here before. We shed blood. Not even our own Nobel Peace Laureate could be heard for everyone who spoke was told they were speaking for a tribe So we are diagnosed already as people highly challenged by a common human ailment, the inability to hear themselves or see themeslves in their neighbors.

Killings in Kenya have not abated and more attacks have taken place in Pandanguo, also in the area. But these are the visible. Witnesses to the ICC and other people disappeared silently. Because of the visible massacres of Mpeketoni, arrests of politicians have been made, but police in the area are still under attack from someone and the civilians live in terrible fear. 

Just recently a study on the analysis of militia groups in Kenya was released by Mutahi Ngunyi and Dr. Katumanga in a well documented research. There are militia groups stalking Kenya as we tell each other - and government bids us-  keep quiet and not cover events in the media shortsightedly believing that our own criticism is a greater cause of crime than the reality of criminals, corrupt police and organised militias? Here

One would have thought this should have been connected with what the international media said it feared in March 2013 election time. All these gangs have not grown organically just in the last few months. 

It is said they were involved even in killings in 2007. The forme head of Mungiki Maina Njenga had an attempt on his life in May this year and he linked it to his possible or imagined role in the International Criminal Court. He said only an angel of God saved him from death. He got some consolation from Raila Odinga and the CORD team who are calling for dialogue. 

Yes Fr. Dolan spoke at a Christian burial but tonight it is our duty to ask why so many people of Muslim faith, their leaders and business men are dying in the name of terror. This priest who also writes said that his heart is heavy with burials day after day.

Many things are amiss and if we must go through this then let us at least know what reasons we can cite. 

We mourn to no end the shooting of Shahid Butt, business man and owner of Coast Modern Bus company. His death will shake Mombasa. Judging from the many concerns online tonight, his shooting is another reason to ask if the area will stabilise soon.

He had been accused of being a terrorist and we are non-violent, completely against terror, not confessing the same faiths but Kenyans in pain. Many people have been calling for reason and dialogue because of the high level of insecurity in Kenya. 

Leaders of different backgrounds but outstanding among them Raila Odinga have been saying repeatedly that the country cannot continue as it is. Media personalities have also expressed the down spiralling of Kenya's governance. I listened to a caller to a TV talk Show shakingly say she smelt genocide. This word and Rwanda as well as tribalism have never been so repeated in Kenya's history. 

And we ask, if you can see our government has lost reason and is not humbling itself to find out what is happening to the people of Kenya, are you waiting until we can cover a genocide in the media?

The international media expected bloodshed during the elections of 2013, some of them even found groups of people in training. Al Jezeera told us as much. Why will they not bring out such information early enough if it was hidden away for a clean election? I am now convinced that their fears were not baseless and that they could still connect the dots and save us from further bloodshed.

Today a Kenyan vessel has been seized 65 kilometers from Mogadishu and aboard it some Kenyans. The news of the shooting of Sahid Butt filtered in as Kenyans were listening to the news on the above.

There are questions. He is not the first prominent businessman to die in Mombasa Kenya recently. Senior Muslim clerics have also been killed. Someone dies monthly. No explanations are given.
 If he was supporting Shabaab, has Shabaab shot him dead? 

Since the president has said the killings at Lamu and this extends to Mombasa are not carried out by Shabaab but by Opposition politicians does this mean that rivalry in both business and power has hit a pitch that shows the country does not matter any more? Since the Mombasa Republican Council have been unhappy and would not like to be part of Kenya, what does all this imply?

Shabaab owned up for killings in Mombasa and said they were doing this because Muslims are being ill treated by the Kenyan government. If that is so, where do these killings of the prominent leave the poor and less protected? Can they sleep tonight or tomorrow night? There is runaway insecurity. Some describe Lamu as a war torn zone. 

Even those who defend the government vehemently have today dissented quite clearly with the President who posted on his FB page earlier his dinner in Kakamega with Muslims for IFTAR. The people asked him to sort out Lamu first before dining with the Muslims during their dinner of the fast time of Ramadhan. But that was done and photos are splashed in social media.

What is important is to know Kenyans are hard put to understand or to see the end of this insecurity and settle to work and rest. What if, God forbid, something more should happen? There is far too much rhetoric and demonizing of opponents for peace to prevail. We have to remember that killings, accidents can trigger genocides and civil wars. it is not consolation to remember how that happened in Rwanda and to witness what is going on in Palestine and Israel today.

I can only compare the mood in Kenya now to that before the violence of 2007. As early as June 2007 before Kenya experienced post election violence at the end of that year, the people were already disturbed. Some kept on saying all would be well until they saw fire.

 A nation haunted by many issues of injustice shakes. A nation seeking answers of many who have died in caused deaths that were never explained takes steps backwards often. And many will say that this is just a nation in transition and everything is normal.

I beg to differ. Kenya is badly shaken. The Jubilee government may be trying to do what it promised to do after its election but that is visible mainly to its voters and to those who keep insisting that all is well. There is a long list of disturbing issues. All of them are seeking for answers.

If all these challenges were to a government that has full moral authority perhaps one could continue just insisting that nothing is wrong and like Mollie in Animal Farm just working head down. But Uhuru Kenyatta's government has been weak from its foundation because it's two main people, he and his deputy have been cited for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. 

Their election in the circumstances was met with great euphoria at home by a vote that was mainly aligned ethnically, and referred to one analyst as the tyranny of numbers. It was a vote in defence of their own people and a vote for the same people's protection, a vote that will most likely always be stalked by fear. 

Has someone learned or have some groups including Shabaab learnt just how weak we are when our fault lines are magnified like the Rift Valley? If so what can we do without dialogue? How will the letter of the law help us if we refuse to listen to the panting breath of the others? Are we already divided at every level possible? And if we are, which seems the case, is the world out there so divided that we cannot hear their voices? 

Were they so cheated at African Union and at the UN that the only security that mattered was that of the president of Kenya and his immunity to the ICC because he was going to protect us from terror. 

With all that has happened to the Somalis of Kenya, the invasion of Somalia by Kenya on her own and later he joining of AMISOM to attack Shabaab in Somalia, the rounding up of Somalis sending them away from Nairobi, to Mogadishu  show reasons for terror seem to be increasing daily, not decreasing. That is what the only militia group that speaks back and to which we do not listen - Shabaab, is saying. That we do not care for Muslims.  

I know they have to find reasons to attack but we could be found standing cleaner and more focused if they have no reasons to trade with us or people to point such as the killed clerics and businessmen. But of course, we are a nation and we have to show everyone that we do not back down! We kill. 

Not that wildlife is spared either. Ivory poaching is running wild. Shabaab is said to be involved too. Cheap sugar is imported and dumped into the Kenyan market, Shabaab is involved too. the National Intelligence Service says it has no idea who does that. 

Everyone needs help in times of crisis, Kenya is in a crisis. Said in a childlike way, you come to see the elephants and wildlife, send word now to us. Send us healing. Don't send elders such as Desmond Tutu when it is too late for words! And certainly for tears.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kenya, Signs of Contradiction 2, No dialogue and 'The elephant will reach the top of the house!"

Photo of Satao, the biggest elephant in the world. Courtesy of Richard Moller in Tasvo.
It has been tough in Kenya. What is going to unite us? Our origins in terms of tongues misguide us or are blamed, therefore we re-invent ethnicism - as my friend likes calling it - to no end. 
The elephant will reach the top of the house is a proverb apparently from Cameroon. I like to think that we must make way for others and let all reach where they want to go. Nature included.

Religion -ties that bind- has been used to divide us further. Class wars are big and the winners seem to be the rich all the time. Children are dismayed and have learned to fear. 

Famine in the North has not taught us to prepare for it as it comes every five years. Who can stand the images of the hunger broken ribs we see in the media when we are allowed to? Yet we pray in national breakfasts which are quite hefty every year. 

Social Media is playing a dynamic role and sometimes I would rather the anger is expressed there, than machetes in homes, but again even in such a space, we cannot find a cool library to share our thoughts or have some fun. Life continues to be more of strife whilst striving to breath fresher air. 

One would think our animals could tell us better stories as they did in traditional times but not even that. The level of poaching in Kenya, especially of the elephant is out of hand. 

In the first instant I am not forgetting the deaths of Kenya's wisest and same track using elephant. This means this elephant, 46, guided scientists to resolve the human-wildlife conflict on use of space.

This is not a blessing to a nation that has lost so much wildlife, not a good omen to the world. Not especially when poaching is also being linked to terror actions in the Kenya by Shabaab.

For one thing is clear, nobody can manage to poach animals in Kenya without a string of connections that help one get away with the tusks or other things such as monkey skins. 

An old man once boasted about his exploits from Zaire many years ago. He travelled there for monkey skins. The weak link which everybody knows in Kenya is the police that can be bribed. There are enough roadblocks but those do not stop trafficking of such goods, humans or road accidents.

We have lost many elephants. We are losing ourselves. The din in the nation is at the rooftops. The people are still torn along ethnic and class divisions, political and the Catholic church has joined in by deciding to ask those who are requesting dialogue with Kenyatta to keep quiet and let him rule the nation peacefully. 

On June 14th another elephant was killed. Satao was mourned by all. Sleep was lost by many. Paula Kahumbu wrote. 

There is a Proverb that goes "An elephant is never unable to carry its own tusks". I wish our politicians would play their roles as mandated.

We all know elephants have a lasting memory. I wish we could get some of it. All these things connect. I think we shall be trying to lie if we whisper that this situation is apolitical. For we know that many more elephants died on the eve of the Kenyan elections. Someone knows how to turn ivory into money fast. 

Kenyan poet Stephen Derwent Partington and many are mourning in hunger for justice and yes, compassion and anger. And we keep singing for the elephants and for this nation and the world. Here is Stephen's poem for Satao and for P. Kahumbu who lost her sleep along with many others when Satao died. 

For‘Satao, 2014’ For Paula Kahumbu 

Cowards, let us sing in dead Elmolo
how the elephants have died.
We thank the cavemen, that they drew them,
that zoologists described them,
for the photos of them herding
which the tourists left behind,
for who would ever, fools, believe us?
Teeth from heaven to the ground!?

I stretch my arm out like a trunk
to palm the graveyard of its cranium;
it’s how, I hear, they mourned.
The brain within worked tools and language.
I have none: a useless pen
(it’s only good for drafting elegies)
and even then, no words.

We once had tuskers. Tell the birds!

How do you sift all this from politics?

Two big political voices in the country approach things in the way of two that fight. Yet I believe that the more powerful one is the more important ears are. In this noise, space is created for poachers, but not only poachers, also terrorists. Kenyans are losing. The saying is that "When two elephants fight, the grass suffers". But we do not even have two elephants we loved and they never fought, but they died. 

The grass was suffering before and after. Are our stories going to succeed in keeping us safe from bloodshed? If you follow Kenya, this has been on the rise and the last is events have been at Mpeketoni Lamu where over 60 people were gunned down in cold blood. 

The perpetrators of this crime have not yet been identified. There has been a sad blame game based on previous disagreements. We are forced to wait to see the end of this. It may not be peaceful.

Many people are mixed up of late. Some of them say that if we only stopped speaking politics things would be cooler but I do not know anybody who can balance nature and this nation the way Satao did. 

There are not two big elephants fighting. No-one is bigger than a country we might say. n the spirit of the Kenyan Constitution every person elected to power is supposed to work with regard for the needs of the nation and to show interest in listening to what others say. 

Lest someone says I am inventing because I did not think that the call to dialogue from Raila Odinga would lead to the tug-of-war.

Chapter 6 on Integrity Chapter 73 binds all public officers.

73. (1) Authority assigned to a State officer—
(a) is a public trust to be exercised in a manner that—
(i) is consistent with the purposes and objects of this Constitution;
(ii) demonstrates respect for the people;
(iii) brings honour to the nation and dignity to the office; and
(iv) promotes public confidence in the integrity of the office; and
(b) vests in the State officer the responsibility to serve the people, rather than the power to rule them.
(2) The guiding principles of leadership and integrity include—
(a) selection on the basis of personal integrity, competence and suitability, or election in free and fair elections;
(b) objectivity and impartiality in decision making, and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices;
(c) selfless service based solely on the public interest, demonstrated by—
(i) honesty in the execution of public duties; and
(ii) the declaration of any personal interest that may conflict with public duties;
(d) accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and
(e) discipline and commitment in service to the people.

Kenya aimed high. This is a land that says it cannot stand violence of such things as rallies and dialogues as Raila Odinga and his team called are calling for.  He has been told that he is wrong and does not belong. You see just now the president has reminded him that he should wait for the election contest of 2017. The country is calm and peaceful and he is confused, they say. So mixed up that he ferries people around the country to listen to him in huge rallies. Rally is dead. 

Kenya loves peace and what you saw in 2007, if you noticed was not violence, just love for justice. In the meantime a newspaper The Star reports that machetes are selling pretty well and the reporter is wary of the fact that this happened also in 2007 before the onset of post poll violence.

Some people who are active commentators on Social Media, usually helping a healthy discussion keep going are weary. Long before them some Kenyans began to post that it is better to write about God and such things and to avoid politics. They were tired of the rhetoric they said. Grant them their choice.

 But then what is so deadly in Kenya? When is making some noise the only thing one can do? It is when things are happening so fast and the rim of reason seems to have cracked and fallen into a hot volcano. Such are the times we have built up since for three months. About other statistics you may want that are or seem to be more balanced and to your taste you can find in all government books and in many other sites. He is my story from my viscera. 

Irony in safety

Kenya wants to sell itself as a safe country, developing rapidly especially by selling Euro bonds. The economy is safe. There is no need for travel advisories, in fact many Kenyans are suggesting to Britain and America to issue those to their own unsafe countries where gun men often snip lives of kids in schools and all those other horrors.

If you asked a little more you would hear that the warning should be against the European and other developed countries not because of such things as the Lampedusa happenings where often many Africans die in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe but because in Europe there gay people are not listed for death every now and then.

Europe should be written off for its failed morals and poor ways with regard to religion. 

As for Kenya, the resources in the country including the finding of oil in formally neglected parts of the country such as Turkana in the North and Lamu at the coast is just the icing on the cake on the future of a country whose golden dawn was on the 4th of March 2013 when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto got the mandate from the people both through the vote and to clear the air also from the High Court. 

There are people for whom absolutely nothing is wrong with Kenya. Only on May 31st they say did some nuisance begin because of one man who returned from abroad with an agenda to introduce an old man called Dialogue whom he said had died.

The elected politicians he wanted to speak to,  in the main the president and his deputy keep on telling him that the old man is not dead. About the elephants there is no argument because even poets have sang.

What they want to hear is that all is well and there is no need for this thing called revival and revival rallies for the rising of this old man called Dialogue who now also reveals that he has a wife who also died called Rally. He has met thousands of people in many rallies to call out the name Rally to see if she lives. 

Bishops of the Catholic Church who profess a lot of faith in ecumenical dialogue, life and life after are not in favor of such a dialogue. Ecumenism is only good for the church. It is a sacred word. In politics people should listen, they seem to say, to one person because this is Kenya. They stand has often been questioned.

Only one Fr. Ambrose Tonui Kimutai has told them that he will stick out for Old Mr Dialogue as part of the Decalogue. He says they are acting out of turn because as it is, the Bishops are not meant to take sides on this. Many answer him to congratulate but others say that he should know he has bosses. Still more divisions. 

The Swiss ambassador to Kenya, Jacques Pitteloud and one of the authors of a recently launched book Wings of Kenya, the subject being birds of Kenya,  has done what I never see happening in Europe or anywhere else. He has taken sides too. He contradicts himself between this and this or despite the dangers that are real and explosive, anybody who has followed the onset of the call for dialogue knows that it has been exacerbated by the deaf ear that has been given by those in power today. 
Kenyans have not failed to let him note that money is stashed in Swiss banks often from all the wrong investors. 

2017, Kenya post- election deadlock is old; who did not see it coming did not want to, and the child is dead

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