Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kenya's Biggest Thief

Well, my headline is not original, as you can see from this video.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Defying the atheist

The roaring lion, the jumping antelope, the grass growing, the chirping birds, the thorn tree in the whistling savannah, the giraffe taking water up its long neck, the domineering elephant, the swimming fish, the spectacular wildebeeste, the striped zebra, the pink flamingos, and the man watching.

"It just happened, by accident," says the man

Too much ado over something

Presence of words emphasizing the role of "evil" in the world in major
post-9/11 speeches by President Bush and in major newspaper editorials
following the speeches.


Religion today plays a subtle but deeply significant role in politics, the economy and social life than we care to imagine. Why, for example, do most people work five days a week rather than six or seven? Why does the Middle East remain such a tinderbox? Why is Uncle Sam chasing shadows in the name of fighting terror? Why do some countries care more about nature than others? Why is Sudan divided between the north and south? Why did Pakistan and India separate?

There may be many answers to these questions, but I submit that religion is at the core of them. Followed to their conclusion, religion appears in most answers. In Christianity, a major player in world politics today, worship is the main issue, and it has a lot to do with a day.

No day has been argued over and debated as hotly as the seventh day of the week. Innocently passing every week, the 24-hour period remains oblivious of the great controversy surrounding its observance in honor of the Creator.

There are only two kinds of people in this debate: Sabbath keepers and non-sabbath keepers. Others refer to the two groups as 'sabbatarians' and 'non-sabbatarians'. Seventh-day Adventists and Jews fall in the group of sabbatarians. All others, including atheists, fall in the second group.

I had promised to explain which church Christ would have most probably belonged today. That church is the Seventh-day Adventist church.

I will quote from EG White's Medical Ministry "Christ was a Seventh-day Adventist, to all intents and purposes. It was He who called Moses into the mount and gave him instruction for His people.... In awful grandeur Christ made known the law of Jehovah, giving, among other charges, this charge: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'"

It is a startling statement, given that the SDA church was established in 1863. But the understanding is in the words "to all intents and purposes". It means for all practical purposes, or in every practical sense. Since Christ did not abrogate or repeal the Sabbath law, it remains valid to date. There is no place in the scriptures showing He called for Sunday worship as practised by Protestants and the children of Rome. In effect, Sunday worship is man's invention, not God's law., which is ironical given that Sunday worship is allegedly in God's honor.

For details of how Sunday became a day of worship, and why 'Protestants' would rather join Rome in condemning the SDA church than admit their error, please click here.

It is not easy being SDA. I do not think it's ever been, for Christ Himself withstood many taunts, ridicule and outright opposition, leading to his crucifixion. There are many things Christ did that attracted this kind of treatment, yet this post will focus on the Sabbath part.

"The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world," so wrote EG White in Testimonies for the Church, Vol 1, pg 223. It is ironical that among the most strident critics of the Adventist Church are protestants. Perhaps inadvertently, they have joined forces with Rome to trample underfoot the express command of God to keep the seventh day of the week holy in His honor.

If history is anything to go by, religion will play a more and more significant role in public and private life until the end of the world. Indeed, religion itself will be the cause and effect of the end of the world.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Only two kinds of people

The world is made up of only two kinds of people: those who think the world is made up of two kinds of people, and those who don't. That's a quotable quote from a sage whose name I no longer remember.

Yesterday, I heard a similar line from a preacher who gave a very serious message. In Gen 12, God calls out Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to a land where He would show him, to make his name great and to bless the whole world through him, to bless those who bless Abraham, to curse those who curse him.

That means two kinds of people: those called out and those not called out, those who bless Abraham and those who curse him, those blessed through him and those who are not.

Spiritually, it has always been two kinds of people from the very beginning. In Gen 4, we see Abel and Cain giving offerings to God. Cain offers 'fruit of the ground' and Abel offers the 'firstlings of his flock'. God accepts Abel's sacrifice, and rejects Cain's.

Two kinds of people: those whose worship God accepts, and those whose worship He rejects.

In Exodus, we see God giving his law to the Israelites then declaring them a special people. Paul in Rom 3 argues that they were not special because of anything, but simply because they were the depositories of the 'oracles of God'.

Two kinds of people: those to whom were committed the oracles of God, and those to whom they were supposed to be examples. Jews, Gentiles. Paul breaks it down even further in Rom 1 and Rom 2 into the circumcised and the uncircumcised.

Yet we know that God rejected Israel when the nation proved too stiff-necked and rebellious. God then called out the Gentiles and made them like the new Israel. According to Paul, He grafted Gentiles into the branches He had cut off.

Again, two kinds of people; first, those chosen to be the depositories of God's oracles, those not chosen; those rejected, those accepted; those grafted in, those cut off.

According to Ellen G White, "Seventh-day Adventists have been chosen by God as a peculiar people, separate from the world. By the great cleaver of truth He has cut them out from the quarry of the world, and brought them into connection with Himself. He has made them His representatives, and has called them to be ambassadors for Him in the last work of salvation. The greatest wealth of truth ever entrusted to mortals, the most solemn and fearful warnings ever sent by God to man, have been committed to them to be given to the world; and in the accomplishment of this work our publishing houses are among the most effective agencies. . . ."

Again, two kinds of people:
those chosen by God as a peculiar people separate from the world, and those in the world.

Are Jews better than other people? Put another way, are Gentiles worse than Jews? Incidentally, Paul asks the very same question in Rom 3, the passage linked above. Today, one might ask, are people of my church better than those in other churches? One might ask, are Seventh-day Adventists better than other Christians?

(In response to that question, the preacher made a startling statement, whose import I'll discuss in the next post, including the church where Christ would have most likely been a member).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Staring death's career in the face

Yanks Thump Sox

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, June 22, 2008; Page W32

If you are like I, you are pretty sick of reading articles about how the financially-troubled newspaper industry is making desperation budget cutting moves: Downsizing its products, laying off staff, buying prostitutes for advertisers, and so forth. But believe me, you'd be even sicker of it if you were INSIDE a typical American newsroom these days, where it's sometimes hard to hear over the 200 decibel background drone of human whining.

One frequent newsroom complaint is that they are cutting back drastically in the use of copyeditors. It's true, but I for one am not complaining. I say good riddance.

Rest of the article here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Naughty Anglican Boy runs back to Mommy

So Anglicans are running back to Mother Rome? The wonders of the world never cease, its mysteries to fathom. Honestly, I'm not surprised. The Anglican church has its roots in Roman Catholicism and to claim they are running back is not really true. They share so much, including Sunday worship, a thing Rome boasts about instituting without scriptural support, the creed and many other doctrines.

The comments on that article are quite interesting. Even the ones from atheists.

No, the CoE is not returning to Mother Rome; she never really left in the first place.

Accusing the Vatican?

This image is not computer generated. It was taken as the pope passed through immigration somewhere in the US. I do not know what they suspected him to be carrying.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kibaki has to fire Kimunya and do the RIGHT thing

Kenyan newspapers today have given us a glimpse of what happened in Palriament yesterday, chiefly the passing of a no-confidence or censure Motion in the Finance minister Amos Kimunya.

Kimunya is a confidante of Mwai Kibaki, who is president by virtue of a hotly contested election whose integrity is under probe as we speak. About the Motion, The Standard suggests that:
"The Grand Regency saga went to the floor of Parliament as furious members censured Mr Amos Kimunya over the sale of the hotel even as he put up a spirited defense of his actions. By adopting the censure motion, Parliament was asking that either the Finance Minister resigns or the President picks the cue and fires him. However, the President is not under obligation to go by Parliament’s decision."

The Daily Nation suggests the same thing.

For us to place the issue in context, let's go back to 1995, to the land of milk and money. Wikipedia tells us that Israeli Prime minister Yitzak Rabin had been murdered, and Bill Clinton was returning from the funeral with Senate majority leader Newt Gingrich. On the plane, Clinton ignored Gingrich, so to show his might, the angry Gingrich organized a clever plan that shut down the US govt literally. He simply forced a budget crisis, the kind we could easily witness in Kenya today.

A Cabinet sub-committee chaired by AG Amos Wako has also recommended that Kimunya resigns. Kibaki can ignore that without serious consequences, but not Parliament. No government can operate without a budget.

The only catch is that MPs might not be paid their salaries, a prospect they would not accept without a fight. That's Kibaki's only consolation, but judging by the mood of parliament yesterday, it would not be totally far-fetched to see MPs taking that option.

But Kenyans must ask what next. Suppose Kibaki does fire Kimunya, which as I have shown he has to do (if Kimunya does not resign first). Kimunya must be asked to explain, probably assisted by handcuffs and a sabbatical at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, where the Grand Regency money went. Did it finance PNU elections last year as claimed by The Nairobi Star this week?

If so, who received the money? And if Libyan blood money (yes, blood money since many Kenyans have died as a result of the theft of Goldenberg money that birthed the Grand Larceny in the Grand Regency saga) financed PNU's campaign last year, doesn't that not logically lead us into the conclusion that Kibaki's alleged victory in last year's election is dripping with the blood of Kenyans? If Kimunya must go, what about Kibaki?

Kibaki has to fire Kimunya, and even if he resigns, the questions should only stop after Kibaki does the RIGHT thing. By now it should be fairly obvious what that is.

Two editorials and a man under siege

Kudos Kenyan MPs, power to you! Kudos to Bonny Khalwale, mover of the censure Motion, and Ababu Namwamba, seconder. Shame on you, Kalonzo Musyoka, the lone dissenting voice.

If you are a Kenyan like me, you must know by now the fate of Finance minister Amos Kimunya (pictured) lies with Mwai Kibaki, the man who claims to be president of Kenya by virtue of being 'duly elected' and hurriedly sworn-in by a discredited Electoral Commission in January.

Kibaki's Finance minister, whose retention in that docket was hotly contested by ODM, Kibaki's partners in the grand coalition, is toast. Kaput. He has to resign or be fired, and Kibaki has no choice in the matter. While The Standard claims Kibaki "does not have to go by Parliament's decision", the truth is that the president really has no choice. I will discuss that in the next blog post.

What is intriguing is the approach by two newspapers in the country. While The Standard opines that the Kimunuya censure Motion is 'a warning to the Cabinet', its chief rival, the Daily Nation, moans the death of the Cabinet consensus. The Nation says: "It remains of paramount importance that the coalition remains in place until it has accomplished its primary mission – to secure peace and stability and ensure that the country is never again driven to the point of disintegration by political and ethnic rivalries."

In other words, the coalition must remain in place, and the govt must be seen to speak with one voice, even in a scandal like the Grand Regency larceny. Bah!

The Standard, takes a slightly different view: "The Executive, on studying the details of the transaction at greater length during a Cabinet meeting scheduled for today, may agree with most parliamentarians or reach a different conclusion from them as to whether Kimunya’s actions were lawful and what actions are necessary beyond the reprimand."

I go with The Standard. Simply because it places the Kenyan people first, not some academic concept of Cabinet consensus. We know only too well that decisions taken by the Cabinet, which meets in camera, are not open to the public. Congratulations to Lands minister James Orengo who chose to trample Cabinet consensus underfoot and placed the interests of the Kenyan people first by exposing Kimunya.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You Bloody Idiot, Stupid Questions

Beware of a cornered Bim.

The larceny perfected

New twist in hotel saga

Published on July 1, 2008, 12:00 am

By Standard Team

The Grand Regency Hotel sale saga took a new twist as it emerged that the hotel changed hands at Sh1.85 billion and not Sh2.9 billion as claimed by the beleaguered Finance Minister Amos Kimunya.

The Minister for Lands James Orengo made the revelations late at a news conference, even as Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Kimunya, who is at the centre of the storm over the controversial sale of the hotel, remained locked up in a meeting at Treasury building in Nairobi.

Read the rest of the story here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Grand Regency Lunacy

The Anglo Leasing scandal, Part II

Denied at first, then speculated upon, then confirmed as gone, just like that. Notice Kimunya 'explaining' how the govt got back the money it wanted. Never mind that it's the same amount given 15 years ago, as if inflation remained a constant, and time stood still.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Mugabe's Speech Cost Him a Plate of Chips

By Jerry Okungu

International politics can be dirty and cheap at times. It even gets bizarre at times.When it comes to Robert Mugabe and the West, humor sets in comfortably.

The other day the United Nations took the liberty to invite Robert Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe to join other leaders in Rome at a meeting to resolve the world food crisis. As much as UN protocol was followed in extending this invitation to Uncle Bob, a few countries; notably Britain and Australia were not amused. They could not understand how a cantankerous corrupt dictator like Mugabe who has been starving his countrymen for decades could be allowed to join civilized nations at the table in Rome.

Read the rest of the article here.

Its sequel is here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

America hath a pwobwem

Monday, June 16, 2008

Olbermann blasts McCain on Iraq policy

US journalists strike a blow for civil liberty

It's not the kind of story you are used to hearing from the US. Not the land of the brave and the free. Not the land of democracy. You've heard of Guantanamo Bay. The island used to be part of Cuba, but the US annexed it and has put it to noxious use.

This week, a group of journalists began exposing what has been going on there, mainly the torture of prisoners. Click here for some of the stories, including those in which wrong men were detained and tortured. These are mostly Muslim suspects accused of being members of al Qaida. They are blamed for attacking the US on September 11, 2001. It turns out that the worst torture camp is not even Guantanamo. Bagram, a former Russian military base taken over by the US after it attacked Afghanistan has a worse record, according to former detainees.

The US is in the middle of a presidential campaign. Last week, the US supreme court ruled that gave prisoners at the detention centre the right to access US federal courts. As you can imagine, the Republican nominee, John McCain, saw red literally. He called the court ruling "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country". According to Bloomberg, two years ago, the Arizona senator was the chief backer of a US law which stripped the prisoners of the right to file habeas corpus petitions in US courts.

That's the kind of candidate the Republicans want to send to White House. I'm not surprised he wants Marines to stay in Iraq for another 100 years.

I say kudos to the McClatchy crew for lighting a fire under George Bush's bottom (that's an innocent English expression). The natural result of such an exposé should be calls to take Bush to the Hague. Although I expect somebody to bell the cat, I'm not holding my breath.

An aphalling distraction

The Guardian UK reports on an Italian man (apparently he is gay) bent on distracting live TV broadcasts with a message on condoms. Although Gabriele Paolini's antics have succeeded in drawing attention to himself and his phallic message, they are a nightmare to newscasters and TV reporters. The Guardian reports that his latest stunt involved throwing himself in front of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's car to announce he had joined his party and had wedded his gay boyfriend. Paolini's stunts may work on NTV or KTN, but I advice him strongly against throwing himself in front of PM Raila's car. He should not even imagine trying to think of Kibaki's motorcade.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Tiger Licking Kibaki's face

I've read an interesting article in The Sunday Nation in which the writer is saying the Electoral Commission of Kenya should be nowhere near the ballots being cast in this Wednesday's by-elections. For the first time since the barrage of condemnation began, I got to read someone explaining the process through which Kivuitu and his catankerous team could be removed from office.

You see, the Electoral Commissioners are constitutional offices, so they can only be removed by the President after a tribunal finds them incompetent, or if they resign (which Kivuitu says he won't), or by death (which they continue to defy). I would prefer resignations, but since they will not go quietly, let's give (alleged?) President Kibaki the option of showing them the door.

Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen for a very simple reason. It would open a can of worms, like Kibaki admitting he was elected fraudulently, that the pressure he or his men put on Kivuitu triggered the violence in which hundreds died, and that he has no option but to go home and shower.

It would take a lot of courage for Kibaki to send Kivuitu home. Kibaki is known for many things, but courage is not one of them. So we are stuck with Kivuitu. Love him or hate him, he will preside over the by-elections on Wednesday.

Kivuitu and his team remain like a tiger licking Kibaki's face. If he attempts to throw them out, he risks a very nasty maul. If he doesn't, he must contend with very foul breath and sharp claws.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guess who is casting his lot with capitalist Chelski

It's 93 years since Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Today, in Moscow, London has invaded the Red Square with red devils and blue angels. As if indicating a change of heart, Lenin would have looked towards the angels to save his soul from this capitalistic invasion. I wonder how his socialist head have reacted had he been told that Chelsea is owned by Roman Abramovich., a Russian!

We'll have to wait for the final whistle at Luzhniki stadium to know the answer.

The first shall be last, says Kibaki

Some things happen only in Kenya. It reminds me of Kinyume Mbele, a poem I read in secondary school over 20 years ago. I forget the author due to the cobwebs in my head.

Names of top PSs missing in jobs shuffle

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 5/21/2008

Three of the Permanent Secretaries whose ministries featured in the top 10 list were replaced during the naming of the grand coalition Cabinet.

Ms Rachel Nzombo, formerly of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services, was given her marching orders when the new Cabinet was formed last month. The ministry was rated the best in the evaluation report on the performance of public agencies for the financial year 2006/07.

Also shown the door was Ms Rachel Arunga of Special Programmes which was declared the third best ministry.

Ms Alice Mayaka, the former PS in the ministry of State for National Heritage, also missed out in the list announced by President Kibaki after the signing of the National Reconciliation Accord. The ministry was seventh out of the 37 evaluated.

In the list of 10 worst performers, five PSs were retained.

(Full story here)

Let me first salute this piece of good journalism from the Nation.. No other newspaper caught this classic irony.

Do not be surprised. Kibaki, the appointing authority, is walking a well-trodden path. In the last election, he came second but like Mugabe, he remains president. Kalonzo Musyoka, the man he appointed vice-president, who came a distant third in the presidential election, is now No 2, and the man who won the elections comes athird in the pecking order. That's how Kibaki sees things.

Mugabe's big guns trained on elections

A few weeks back, I posted a few thoughts on the African Union with focus on Comoros and the Zimbabwean election. You can revisit the article here. I had suggested that the African Union had shot itself in the foot by sending troops to remove the speck in Comoros while conveniently ignoring the elephant in Zimbabwe.

Some two months later, Mugabe is still in power in Zim, and the AU can't dare lift a finger at the Bim.

I must say kudos to the patriotic South Africans who refused to offload weapons Mugabe had imported from China. Ironically, at that time, while the South Africans argued that the weapons would be used to torment their brothers in Zimbabwe, the same South Africans are now finishing off the job that the Bim failed to complete.

More bad news: The weapons shipment has found its way to Zim through a port in Congo (sorry, can't find an English translation). The timing is perfect, at least for the Bim. His country will be running a repeat presidential election on June 27.

Initially, he had said the country was too broke to afford a rerun between him and Morgan Tsvangirai. Now that the weapons have arrived (apparently, cash was readily available to take the shipment through the circuitous route), the Bim can confidently campaign again, for the big guns are literally trained on the election.

SA President Thabo Mbeki visits him often, SADC pats his back, and the AU remains poignantly silent. What more can a Bim ask for?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Amnesty call a tricky affair

Handling of violence suspects a tricky affair

ON Monday, Justice minister Martha Karua said at least 130 suspects had been arrested over some 9,000 crimes committed during the post-election chaos.
Coming amid calls for amnesty, the figures also indicated that some 340 suspects were still being sought and that investigations were continuing. The majority of the cases are pending in courts in Rift Valley and Nairobi.
The question that has divided the Cabinet is whether to declare amnesty or prosecute the suspects. ODM politicians, including the Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga, and Agriculture minister William Ruto have called for amnesty.
The PNU/ODM-K side, including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Justice minister Martha Karua, and her Internal Security counterpart, Prof George Saitoti, are against it.
Some leaders opposing amnesty say only those accused of ‘petty crimes’ may be pardoned, but those accused of more serious offences – rape, physical harm and destruction of property – must face the law.
While Kenya battles with amnesty and reconciliation, I’m reminded of a story that touches on forgiveness at the individual level and amnesty on a larger scale.
On December 22, 2003, a shocking murder was reported in the Republic of Palau in Guam, an island in the western Pacific.
Here is how it was reported: “A triple murder; husband, wife and their 11-year-old son were bludgeoned to death in their home Monday night. The fourth family member, a 10-year-old girl, was abducted from the home, raped, strangled, and left for dead on the side of a road.”
The victims were members of a missionary family: Pastor Ruimar DePaiva, 42, his wife Margareth DePaiva, 37, and their 11-year-old son, Larrison. The suspect, Justin Hirosi, 43, later “pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect”.
The Palau murders were so gut wrenching that that the small island organised a state funeral for the DePaivas. It was at the funeral that Ruth DePaiva, the mother of the slain missionary, asked for Hirosi’s mother.
"Here we are, two mothers," wire services reported her as saying. "I am sure the mother of Justin has prayed so many times for her son, and I am sure her heart hurts terribly. I just want to take Justin's mother and let her know we will be praying for her ... and for Justin."
Then, the Adventist News Network reported, she forgave.
While we ponder over the implications, Kenyans can, at an individual level, follow the example of Ruth DePaiva.
(Lest I be misunderstood, although Ruth DePaiva forgave, the suspect remained in custody regardless, since the offence was also against the state.)
Palau President Tommy Remengesau, who attended the funeral, said Ruth’s ability to forgive allowed the entire nation to begin a healing process over a crime that had never occurred in the country before.
Kenyans who have heard that story may find it unbelievable. After witnessing grotesque killings in January and February, with over 1,000 killed, more than 350,000 displaced, and anger welling up in the hearts of those affected, can anyone really forgive?
Forgiveness is unthinkable for victims of violence. That is partly why calls for amnesty ring such discordant bells and beg many questions.
How will the victims feel? Will the alleged perpetrators not do it again? Will amnesty not embolden criminals and encourage impunity? Will pardoning criminals restore normal relations? Is there benefit in forgiving an unrepentant criminal? How about the ones who got away without being arrested?
Some feel it may be fine to pardon petty offenders – placard wavers and stone throwers, for example – while ensuring that killers and rapists face the law.
While that sounds reasonable, it would be a case of selective justice if only those in custody are prosecuted, knowing some of those who would have faced similar or worse charges remain free. That kind of justice would be dubious at best.
The circumstances and the places where the arrests took place may make it appear as if mainly perceived ODM supporters were targeted. The police must show they were not biased in arresting the 130 suspects, and the judicial system must show it is impartial in dispensing justice.
To date, nobody has given satisfactory answers to accusations that criminal gangs were given uniforms, armed and set loose on demonstrators. Who knows for sure if anybody was arrested for killing 35 people in a church in Kiambaa, Eldoret? And who knows if anybody was arrested for killing 13 women and children in Naivasha? Only the courts can answer those questions.
But even if all the suspects got arrested, there is the lingering question of the ‘big man’. This does not only mean the masterminds being brought to book, but also the root causes of the violence being addressed. What purpose would it serve to prosecute perpetrators of post-election chaos when the political causes of violence remain unaddressed?
Even when applied to the tittle, the law must serve a practical purpose, giving benefit to the community at large. That is why calls for amnesty cannot be dismissed offhand. When considered, it can act as a catalyst for national reconciliation.
Presumably, sticklers want to enforce the law, assuage the pain of victims and teach the important lesson that crime cannot go unpunished. On the other hand, those supporting amnesty are wary that selective prosecution of suspects may trigger lawlessness, fan the flames of hatred and create disharmony. They condemn crime, but look beyond the acts of crime themselves.
Had Kenyans kept confidence in the judiciary, few would have paid attention to political noise. It is a catch-22 of sorts. If some are jailed over post-election crimes, unless care is taken to ensure all stones are turned everywhere, social harmony will have been sacrificed at the altar of selective justice.
In such a case, those being resettled in the midst of anger and disenchantment will be left at the mercy of angry neighbours. The hapless returnees would remain vulnerable, quite aware that they are the ‘big stick’ for the predictable sequel to January 2008. That is why some displaced people will simply not return home.
At the same time, if blanket amnesty is declared, the sticklers will rightfully claim the law has been trampled underfoot. Impunity abounds and there is no knowing what other crimes will be committed. The perpetrators know they can hide behind ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and political godfathers to claim pardon.
Yet amnesty and forgiveness cannot be ruled out. This is not mere pontificating; there are practical benefits at the individual and national levels.
One more thing to consider, prosecuting the suspects of post-election violence may send the wrong signals to potential witnesses at Justice Johann Kriegler’s truth, justice and reconciliation commission.
While its success is debateable, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the closest example Kenyans can cite. It focused on apartheid crimes over 34 years and heard testimonies of 21,000 victims. It is instructive that it received over 7,000 applications for amnesty. It granted only 125.

Ruto, Wanyeki and Kamau Kuria on amnesty

Man's helpless state

No, I will not preach. Not yet. I'm referring to China. An earthquake that occurred last week has left at least 71,000 killed, buried or missing. I can't imagine 71,000 people dead. That's several villages all wiped out, just like that.

I was thinking this is the worst earthquake in history when a friend pointed me to January 23, 1556, also in China. That day, more than 830,000 lay dead after an earthquake.

The worst thing is that there is almost nothing people can do about it. You cannot predict at short notice when an earthquake will occur, where exactly it will hit and to what scale. You can't do nada about aftershocks either, although they are a lot easier to predict.

China has declared three days of national mourning.

Did I hear someone ask where was God when all this was happening? Why does he let bad things happen to good people (ok, Chinese authorities have problems with Tibet, Darfur, Zimbabwe and Tiananmen square, but that does not call for an earthquake)?

I don't know why God let it happen. All I know is that Jesus told His disciples (maybe that helps) that when they begin seeing earthquakes, famines, pestilences and strife, when they hear of wars and rumours of war, they should prepare to go home. That doesn't explain why earthquakes kill so many, or whether those killed should be among the disciples preparing to go home, but it is good news.

The fact is that even if you survive an earthquake (like we all have), some day you will die unless Christ comes back and finds you alive. Some day soon, you will go west, either courtesy of an earthquake, a tsunami, a car crash, illness, heart attack... The question then is not the means by which we will leave the earth but our preparedness for the big day when Christ returns.

Man may appear helpless in the wake of earthquakes, disease, illness and other agents of death, but there is good news: It will end soon! One day we will ask, O death, where is your victory? Where, O death, where is your sting?

Let me share what a friend once told me: Live each day as if it were your last; one day you'll be right.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Xenophobia rears its ugly head

I got this from the Thought Leader. I'm not sure if Kenya's Transport minister Ali Mwakwere 'makwerekwere' has any relation to this animal. I first heard it early from a friend who once lived in Windhoek, Namibia, but had relocated back to the country. He says everywhere he went he was referred to as 'kwerekwere'.

On makwerekwere…

Submitted by Boitumelo Magolego

The inside cover of my Oxford English dictionary features a word with which I have become all too familiar: the word is kwerekwere.
(It may be more familiar to you with one of its vernacular language–dependant prefixes prepended — the Sotho singular being le– and plural ma–, the Nguni singular being i– and plural ama–). This word is used to refer to black (in the morphological sense) Africans who are not South Africans — South African being defined as Sotho, Nguni, Venda and Tsonga ethnic groups (by that measure the Swazis, Batswana, etc. would be South African?). This word has a very negative sting to it and is often used with contempt. From what I gather it has undertones which speak of how black Africans are believed to be sub–human, too dark and have a pungent smell. Two other words also used in this regard are grigamba and kom–ver (as in the Afrikaans kom van ver) — each prepended with the relevant prefix.

Even though these words seem new to some people, I have been hearing them as far back as I can remember. My grandparents also say that these words have been in use for as long as they can remember. What’s my point? The contempt with which South Africans regard black African foreigners is not a post–democracy phenomenon. The question which everyone has been asking since the May 12 Alexandra killings is: What has made South Africans behave like this? What has brought about all this anger and rage? To me a more relevant question is: What was the trigger event which resulted in the outpouring of all this pent–up contempt?

To read the rest of the article, click here..

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Let's watch KBC laugh at the log in SABC's eye

The other day a friend remarked that I was obsessed with the South African media. Maybe I am. Most of the media stories posted here are on SA. There are three main reasons why. The first is the sheer vibrance of the SA media. Two is that the country has many parallels with my country (many ethnic groups, a regional economic giant, former British colony, and gyrates to similar political music).

There are major differences, of course, but the parallels are significant. For example, President Thabo Mbeki is serving his last few months in office, the same as Kibaki (we thought he had a few months to go last year, and some still feel nothing really changed). The presumed incoming presidents (Zuma in SA and Raila in Kenya) share a history of persecution and are seen as radically different from the incumbents.

Heck! Graca Machel, Madiba's wife, even visited Nairobi quite a few times in January and February to persuade us that killing each other was not really a sport. A few years back, it was Prof Washington Jalang'o, a Kenyan, who convinced IFP and ANC leaders that their adversary was laughing on the sidelines as they squared with each other.

The third reason is esoteric: I have a few friends in SA who care about the media and current affairs. Today, my post will focus on SABC, where I have a few friends. Any similarities with the backside, front, head or sole of any media house, real, imagined, living or dead, in Kenya and elsewhere, are purely coincidental. My gut feeling is that a media house near you will undergo similar gyrations very soon.

I will quote from my favourite SA newspaper, Mail & Guardian. The update is that Mpofu has now been suspended.

Celebrity SABC boss Mpofu splits board
Ferial Hafajee and Kwanele Sosibo | Johannesburg, South Africa
21 April 2008 08:09
The opposing forces in the SABC boardroom battle became clearer this week: CEO Dali Mpofu is up against board chairperson Khanyi Mkonza and her deputy Christine Qunta, who want him axed, while his supporters include businessman Peter Vundla, President Thabo Mbeki’s former spokesperson Bheki Khumalo and electoral commission chief Pansy Tlakula.

Mpofu’s future, and that of the SABC board, will be on the agenda when the broadcaster appears before Parliament early next month.

The board is deeply split on Mpofu. Mkonza and Qunta accuse him of being an absentee CEO and failing to make key staff appointments, and hold him personally responsible for losing football and cricket broadcasting rights and tabling a loss-making budget for the next financial year.

Monday, May 5, 2008

You aren't white enough, SAHRC tells black journalists

A few days ago, the South African Human Rights Commission delivered a ruling on the case raised by white journalists who has been barred from a Forum for Black Journalists (FBJ) imbizo addressed by president-in-waiting Jacob Zuma.

SAHRC ruled that "barring journalists from joining the Forum for Black Journalists on the basis of race is unconstitutional".

The argument the FBJ used to justify excluding white journalists did not pass the scrutiny of the Constitution, he said.

Among the loudest was Radio 702's editor, Katy Katopodis, who said excluding whites from covering an imbizo attended by Zuma was tantamount to denying them access to Zuma based on the colour of their skin.

FBJ have called the ruling a "judicial ambush" and a "banning order". FBJ's Abbey Makoe said the ruling amounted to "criminalising black people". He said:
"By its ruling the HRC has found us guilty for being black; it has criminalised black people; it has found us guilty for exercising the initiative to solve the problems not of its making. The HRC is bastardising the ability of black people to confront their experiential exigencies."

Related to the ruling was an incident in which a columnist referred to two journalists as "coconuts". While SAHRC "discouraged the use of the word, it did not find any wrongdoing by the columnist. In SA parlance, "coconut" refers to those who are black on the outside but white inside. In this case, it referred to black journalists who walked out of the FBJ imbizo in solidarity with their white colleagues.

While we try to exorcise Kenya of tribal ghosts through forced resettlement of IDPs, SA is using its institutions. The running thread is that you cannot force someone to like a neighbour, regardless of colour or tribe.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ok, Mugabe is still around

A few weeks ago, I posted here an article wishing Mugabe a nice retirement. The Zimbabwean election came and went (or rather, refuses to go away) yet we do not have presidential results. The opposition MDC won (according to their count and remarks by US envoy Jendayi Frazer).


Incidentally, Frazer was unable to find similar words for Kibaki, whose fraudulent election is the novel Mugabe read before going to bed a few weeks ago.

Like in Zimbabwe, Raila's opposition ODM beat Kibaki at the election, but somehow, Kibaki remains the country's president. After sending congratulations to him, Jendayi Frazer's country was quick to withdraw when it noticed that the European Union and other more honest nations saw through Kibaki's ruse. Any surprise that Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has been calling for a coalition government?

Mugabe is sticking to a recount (amazingly, of results which have not been released). Not surprisingly, about 200 MDC supporters are in jail.

In a previous article, I asked what the African Union was planning to do about Mugabe. Well, it turns out they planned to do exactly nothing, so the matter remains in the hands of the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, to borrow another leaf straight from Kenya, Mugabe's police are accused of unleashing violence in the countryside, displacing thousands of people. This is a tactic that might become handy in case repeat presidential elections are called.

I just hope Zimbabweans will not descend to the level of killing each other like Kenyans did a few weeks ago.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kibaki pushing his luck

This man who claims to be the president of Kenya, STOLE elections on December 30. As a result of that theft, 1,500 Kenyans are dead and thousands more are refugees in their own country. Peacemakers came and went but a deal was struck when Kofi Annan managed to convince ODM, the election winners, to negotiate with Kibaki.

That was a soft landing for the thief. A few weeks before that, he would have helped himself (literally and allegorically) by looking for a country that could have accepted him. To date, he remains a pariah who is recognized by about seven despotic African and Middle Eastern countries.

In the deal that was signed before the chief mediators and the international community, Kibaki agreed to share power on equal terms with Raila Odinga, the leader of the winning party whose victory he had stolen. That agreement ended the civil war that Kenya had plunged into. It also held the promise for the resettlement of the displaced, and signalled hope for the country's economic recovery. To date, no cabinet has been agreed on, mainly because Kibaki and his henchmen continue to cling onto positions he assigned them during the chaos.

Kibaki, against the advice of the international community and local leaders, appointed his half-cabinet the same day Kofi Annan arrived in the country to mediate the talks. With hindsight, he was portraying himself as having the upper hand when we know he could hardly leave State House. The one time he ventured out of Nairobi, angry locals in Eldoret burnt homes near the vicinity of his function (the scene where scores of IDPs were burnt to death in a church). It was an act of spite, despicable as it was following the saddening deaths in the church, but Kibaki could only watch helplessly.

Yesterday, Kibaki sent his fellow octogenerian Branjis Muthaura to purport that according to the constitution, only the president had executive authority to appoint ministers. Huh! If that is the case, why did Kibaki not name the full cabinet in the first place? Why did Kibaki (reluctantly) negotiate with ODM if he had such powers?

It is not the first time Muthaura, the head of the civil service, is pooping on the high table. A few weeks back, accompanied by an equally repugnant uncivil servant Dr Alfred Mutua, he issued a startling statement that the portfolio balance and power-sharing in the deal signed by Kibaki and Raila would not touch the civil service. Total nonsense. Government includes civil service, otherwise Muthaura would not be a political appointee lapping Kibaki's every vomit and regurgitating it on our feet.

On KTN last night, Local Government minister Uhuru Kenyatta repeated roughly the same remarks. Media reports indicate that Uhuru is among the Kibaki lapdogs who have refused to let go of their ministries. This explains why Kibaki, against all reason, insists on a 40-member cabinet. ODM had asked for 34 in total, giving itself 17.

This is the way to go:
1. Declare Kibaki illegally in office.
2. Call for mass action until the cabinet is named.
3. Pile international and diplomatic pressure on Kibaki to go home.
4. Keep up the pressure on the Hague to investigate human rights abuses committed under his illegal watch, including the killing of unarmed and fleeing protesters.
5. Freeze Kibaki's assets and deport his family members living abroad.
6. Disband the Electoral commission and call fresh elections in six months.
7. Announce a plan to resettle the displaced under a new government. The current one is not only the cause of their displacement but has shown no inclination to resolve the issue of IDPs. Indeed, it has shown it wants more Kenyans displaced.
8. Cooperate with the TJRC to investigate the post-election violence and historical injustices.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bye, bye Mugabe; Rust in piece

Zimbabwe's Mugabe has conceded defeat -report
Thu 3 Apr 2008, 5:34 GMT
[-] Text [+]

JOHANNESBURG, April 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has admitted to his family and advisers that he has lost the most important election of his 28-year rule, South African financial daily Business Day reported on Thursday.

Mugabe lost control of parliament for the first time since independence in 1980 and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said he had also been defeated in a presidential election last Saturday and should concede defeat.

Business Day said Mugabe had privately conceded defeat and was deciding if he should contest a run-off vote needed because MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to secure a clear majority.

As Mugabe goes home to shower, I'm trying to think whether to view him as a hero or as a villain. I'll try to base my decision on three things: land reforms, commitment to the independence of Zimbabwe and his legacy.

His land reforms, one of the main ingredients of his downfall, were well-intentioned. It is difficult to justify a situation where the majority black population owns less than half the arable land of their fathers, a situation similar to Kenya before independence. I've met a few Zimbabweans who think Mugabe was right to take over white lands. It sounded reasonable for Mugabe to ask Britain to compensate the whites they had brought to Zimbabwe. But things went horribly wrong when Mugabe turned to his people and started seeing them as enemies for simply opposing his methods.

Mugabe thumbed his nose at the west for years against the backdrop of economic sanction and diplomatic isolation. Apart from the land issue, this is one of the reasons why few African leaders openly criticised the man. They understood the oppression Mugabe himself had withstood and the hands of Britain (he was jailed for 10 years in the period leading to 1974). They also understood why he wanted to kick out the white settlers from the land of his people.

Mugabe's legacy for Africa is mixed. At home, he leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of his people. Abroad, his name evokes mixed emotions. Largely, I feel his legacy is a negative one. There are few enduring lessons from his rulership. A positive one, though, is that he had the courage to concede defeat and walk away without having to be pushed out by the gun. Interestingly too, although it could have been inadvertent, Zimbabwe under Mugabe retained a little mentioned law that could help many AFrican nations. It is a provision for a rerun in case a presidential election produces no clear winner. It is doubtful Mugabe retained it out of altruism, but as of yesterday, the country was preparing for a rerun now that his closest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, did not attain the 50+1 majority needed to get him the presidency.

Like Daniel arap Moi in 2002, Mugabe has tasted defeat and will walk away a proud man. I do not see him going for the rerun.

Like a new spanner in the mechanic's workshop, Mugabe came in strong, shining like tempered steel. Now he walks away rusted, not out of good use but out of internal acidosis. On the whole, I give him 4 out of 10.

God bless Africa.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Has AU shot itself in the foot?

Yesterday, Comoran soldiers backed by the African Union troops seized the island of Anjouan, part of the coup-prone archipelago of the Comoros. Anjouan, a small island of about 300,000, had been taken over by a rebel leader, Mohamed Bacar, in 2001. After flawed elections last year, Bacar clung to power against the wishes of the people.

Many African countries, Kenya included, are grappling wit the effects of dictatorship and flawed elections. From Algeria to Egypt, from Sudan to Swaziland, there are countries where grey-haired men hang onto the last threads of their grey suits paid for by the blood of the people they ruthlessly rule. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Togo's Faure Gnassingbe (the younger version of Gnassingbe Eyadema, his departed father) and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, recently egged on by Gaddafi, are good examples.

This week, the AU will watch 'helplessly' as Mugabe rigs himself back to power after swearing on his people's rumbling stomachs that the opposition "will never take power as long as he lives". Whether that's an invitation to something nasty, I cannot tell.

Most of the AU troops that backed the Comoran soldiers were from Sudan, no less. Only South Africa's Thabo Mbeki opposed the use f AU troops to topple Bacar. While dialogue of the sort Mbeki advocated has resulted in the endorsement of dictators and losers, it is commendable for its consistency. They did it in Kenya when the general election was stolen, sending Ghana's John Kufuor to mediate between Kibaki and Raila, and doing nothing about it when Kibaki's hardliners sent him home "after a cup of tea". Only the efforts by Kofi Annan, backed by the UN and the wider international community, forced Kibaki to see the sense of taking a soft landing on his way home. Today's stories, however, show Kibaki has a short memory; he does not seem to recall the details of the 50-50 power sharing arrangement he signed in the presence of Annan and Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, now chair of AU. Hopefully this time, it will take less than the widespread violence that brought him to the negotiations.

I do not recall any time the AU has used its troops for a mission such as they did in Comoros yesterday. The best the organisation does in times of election theft and coups de tat is to wring its hands and watch in amazement. Now that it has shown its muscular hand, let's hope it will use it consistently, beginning with Zimbabwe this week, if necessary.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How sex governs the US governors

About a week after New York governor Eliot Spitzer resigned over a sex scandal, the story refuses to go away. The spinoffs have led us back to Clinton (was Hillary afraid a comment would remind American voters of her decision to stick with Clinton to keep her ambition burning?). Now we are back to the McGreeveys of neighboring New Jersey. Jim McGreevey, the former NJ governor, was forced to resign in November 2004 after admitting an extramarital affair with a male employee. He is the first and, so far, the only openly gay American state governor, according to a Wikipedia entry on his profile. According to the male aide, the trysts were (hold your breath) threesomes with McGreevey's wife!

I hope you did not faint. Have a moral day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spoiling the party, BBC style

Just when we thought we were out of the woods, a huge animal emerged from the undergrowth, red in tooth and claw, with a roar. 'State sanctioned Kenyan clashes'. A closer look showed that the animal was familiar, the BBC itself.

The Kenyan parliament is reopening on Thursday. A committee established under the Annan deal has been set up to investigate the clashes. Previously, there have been allegations mainly from the govt side, that ODM planned and sponsored violence after the disputed Dec 27 election. They even went as far as threatening to take ODM officials to the Hague, forgetting that the ICC is used only when a country's justice system is irretrievably broken down or too biased to be trusted. It was instructive that the very same fellas screaming Hague had been shouting that ODM was free to go to court to contest the election results. Inadvertently, the govt was admitting something about its courts.

Back to the Beeb, the militia that is mentioned in the story actually had the audacity to stage a demonstration in Nairobi today. Either the police were aware that such a large group (hundreds actually) was going to stage a demo and allowed them to, or they were too incompetent to get the intelligence report.

I wonder which is worse.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Celebrating the deal

Kisumu, the lakeside town that suffered immensely in the post-election violence, erupted in celebrations when the news reached them that a deal was in the offing.

Signing the deal:

We have a deal!

It is hard to describe the mood in the country at the moment. Not even the biggest granary in my village can contain the overwhelming sigh of relief Kenyans breathed when Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga have signed a deal in which they will share power.

While the deal sounds good on the face of it, the challenge remains in getting it to pass thru Parliament. There is still a lot of suspicion, anger and mutual distrust among MPs. At the same time, while the rest of the country was celebrating, I doubt that those who lost their loved ones, those who are displaced and those who lost everything managed any smiles. At the same time, police teargassed Nairobi residents who were apparently shouting ODM! ODM! whilecelebrating the news that a deal would be signed. It tells you that even if you tame a snake, it can still bite you.

The deal is as follows:
The crisis triggered by the 2007 disputed presidential elections has brought to the surface
deep-seated and long-standing divisions within Kenyan society. If left unaddressed, these
divisions threaten the very existence of Kenya as a unified country. The Kenyan people are
now looking to their leaders to ensure that their country will not be lost.
Given the current situation, neither side can realistically govern the country without the
other. There must be real power-sharing to move the country forward and begin the healing
and reconciliation process.
With this agreement, we are stepping forwarding together, as political leaders, to overcome
the current crisis and to set the country on a new path. As partners in a coalition
government, we commit ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners, through
constant consultation and willingness to compromise.
This agreement is designed to create an environment conducive to such a partnership and to
build mutual trust and confidence. It is not about creating positions that reward individuals.
It seeks to enable Kenya’s political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations with a
view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole. It provides the means to
implement a coherent and far-reaching reform agenda, to address the fundamental root
causes of recurrent conflict, and to create a better, more secure, more prosperous Kenya for
To resolve the political crisis, and in the spirit of coalition and partnership, we have agreed to
enact the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, whose provisions have been agreed
upon in their entirety by the parties hereto and a draft copy thereof is appended hereto.
Its key points are:
• There will be a Prime Minister of the Government of Kenya, with authority to
coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government
of Kenya.
• The Prime Minister will be an elected member of the National Assembly and the
parliamentary leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, or of a coalition, if
the largest party does not command a majority.
• Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the National Assembly to
be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister.
• The Cabinet will consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the
two Deputy Prime Ministers and the other Ministers. The removal of any Minister of
the coalition will be subject to consultation and concurrence in writing by the leaders.
• The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers can only be removed if the National
Assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote.
• The composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the
principle of portfolio balance and will reflect their relative parliamentary strength.
• The coalition will be dissolved if the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or if the parties
agree in writing; or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.
• The National Accord and Reconciliation Act shall be entrenched in the Constitution.
Having agreed on the critical issues above, we will now take this process to Parliament. It will
be convened at the earliest moment to enact these agreements. This will be in the form of an
Act of Parliament and the necessary amendment to the Constitution.
We believe by these steps we can together in the spirit of partnership bring peace and
prosperity back to the people of Kenya who so richly deserve it.
Agreed this date 28 February 2008
________________________ ________________________
Hon. Raila Odinga H.E. President Mwai Kibaki
Orange Democratic Movement Government/Party of National Unity
Witnessed By:
_________________________ _________________________
H.E. Kofi A. Annan H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete
Chairman of the Panel President of the United Republic of
of Eminent African Personalities Tanzania
and Chairman of the African Union

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mayor Potiapata hosts tragicomical talks

In Nairobi it is almost criminal to wear a smile in the streets. How when thousands are homeless, hundreds have been killed and peace nowhere to be found? So when I heard that the city mayor is to be picked by lots, I chuckled very quietly, for it reminded me of my village.

Every Sunday, there was a man dressed in strange colours who would shuffle cards. You put in a little money and he would shuffle them vigorously as your eyes tried to follow the card you wanted. If you predicted correctly which card was where, you won your money back. He was called Potiapata, which is a corruption of 'potea/pata', Kiswahili for win/lose. If Nairobi gets a mayor using this method, forgive me if I call him Mr Potiapata for the sake of my village memories.

Not so far away from City Hall, another game is going on. This time they are shuffling cards holding the whole country. Dr Kofi Annan has been trying for the last two months to get it right. Just when our eyes were about to settle on the ace, one of the ministers on the government side upset the table. Unconfirmed reports say the minister (name and gender withheld), told him he had no business in Kenya since his son had been found selling crude oil from Iraq. As if that was not enough, the unnamed minister told off another top negotiator that a company he was involved with was mining diamonds in DRC "where the violence is worse than ours". The minister then walked out, swagging the rest of the body for all to see the display on the catwalk of arrogance.

It was on that note that the Annan team suspended the talks. Kenya, it would appear, is held hostage by the whims of this minister. Click here for a more sanitised version of that story. I wish we were talking about a loaf of bread. Unfortunately, it is about a whole country of about 37 million people.

Other unconfirmed reports say a relative of the minister's was recently deported back to Kenya. I have no idea if that is true.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Condi, welcome to Kenya!

I hope you are here to tell Kibaki to go home. Things will all be smooth that way, I think.

Bush to send top envoy to Kenya

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Ms Rice is travelling with Mr Bush on his tour of Africa
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to go to Kenya amid efforts to end the violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election.

President George W Bush said Ms Rice would back the mediation efforts led by former
UN chief Kofi Annan.

She would press for an immediate halt to violence, justice for victims, and "a full return to democracy", he said.

At least 1,000 people have been killed and more than 600,000 displaced during Kenya's post-election unrest.

Mr Annan has been pushing for an agreement between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who claimed victory in December's election, and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has argued that the poll was rigged.

Ms Rice will be accompanying President Bush on his trip to the African states of Tanzania, Rwanda, Benin, Ghana and Liberia, which begins on Saturday.

"When we are on the continent, I have asked Condi Rice to travel to Kenya to support the work of the former secretary general and to deliver a message directly to Kenya's leaders," President Bush said.

Bush Agenda for Kenya

Bush will b e visiting Africa from tomorrow. As expected, he has given Kenya a wide berth. This is remarkable considering that he once hosted 'president' Kibaki at the White House some time in 2003. At the time, Kibaki was riding the wave of a popular mandate given by an overwhelming majority of Kenyans. He had taken over from Moi, a veritable African leader of a despotic hue.

Bush will be in Tanzania for four days. He will be in Dar, Arusha and will go to Rwanda. In a few minutes he will be addressing the world on his African trip. Notably, his aides have said he will highlight the need for Kibaki to accept a power-sharing deal with ODM. This is remarkably similar to what former Un boss Kofi Annan said the other day (see blog entry below). … e6j8mf.php
His agenda will also include US-backed efforts to end widespread violence -- which Bush has labeled genocide -- in Sudan's Darfur region, and deadly clashes in Kenya after a disputed December 27 presidential election.

Washington wants to see all parties call for an end to violence; clear the way for humanitarian aid; work out a power-sharing deal to get the government running again; and eventually hold "free and fair elections," said Hadley.

Kibaki and his henchmen have no choice but to accept the deal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PNU attempts to scuttle Annan talks

The govt has thrown a spanner into the works by claiming that the proposals by Annan on a transitional govt were not agreed upon.

Watch the denial here:

Kibaki's allies are famous for breaking promises. That's why Annan has ensured that anything they agree to at the talks is in writing and is signed. The ODM side and Annan say the same things about a transitional govt. How come PNU reads from a different script? Could it be because they are reneging on what they agreed on or just pulling their usual stunts?

It must be noted that the govt side, notably govt smokesman Alfred Mutua, Roads minister John Michuki, Karua and Finance minister Amos Kimunya, made remarks to the effect that Africa Union chairman John Kufuor had come to Kenya for tea and not to mediate the talks between Kibaki's allies and ODM.

Annan is away at some secret location in Kenya with the govt and ODM teams. I bet he has read today's newspapers and listened to what Karua and co had to say. We hope he will respond, especially since Karua is the lead team member for the govt side. Not responding will amount to sweeping a very important issue under the carpet. If I were in his place, I would demand Karua's replacement at the talks.

Is the jocular govt saying Kofi Annan came to Kenya for coffee like they said of Kufuor before him? If Karua is woman enough, she should quit the talks now that she feels cheated by Annan.

What Kenya really needs from the US

Maina Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and L. Muthoni Wanyeki, the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, talk about the US govt's reluctance to tell Kibaki off.

You can read the whole article here.

A Deal We Can Live With

Published: February 12, 2008

Nairobi, Kenya

UNTIL December, Kenya was the most stable nation in East Africa. It has long been a willing partner in the Bush administration’s war on terrorism. Yet the United States has mostly stood by as our country has descended into chaos.

More than 800 people have been killed and at least 250,000 driven from their homes since rigged presidential elections on Dec. 27. Two opposition members of Parliament have been gunned down, and human rights defenders have received death threats.

Thankfully, for the first time since the election, there is a glimmer of hope. On Friday, Kofi Annan, who has led an African Union mediation effort, announced that President Mwai Kibaki and his opponent in the presidential election, Raila Odinga, have agreed to negotiate a power-sharing agreement. Levels of tension in the country have already abated.

But Kenya will not be able to take the crucial steps to stability alone. We need sustained international pressure for as long as it takes to get the country back on track. Washington must refrain from simplistic characterizations of the violence as a matter of ethnic cleansing or tribal conflict, when in fact the roots of the problem are political.

To play an effective role, the United States must maintain consistent and strong pressure to ensure that Kenya’s leaders treat the mediation with utmost seriousness. Kenyans welcome American leadership on Kenya at the United Nations Security Council. The recent decision to bar hard-line politicians and their families from entering the United States is another step in the right direction. It appears to have been a decisive factor in prompting the parties to finally sit at the table.

Washington should continue to work in concert with other strong voices, like the European Union, to push for the restoration of democracy in Kenya. Additionally, the personal assets of the hard-liners and the leaders of the violence should be traced and frozen.

Congress should call for the International Republican Institute, an elections-monitoring organization that conducted an exit poll on the presidential vote, to release its findings. Suspicions that the institute has suppressed its results not because they were flawed but because they showed that Mr. Odinga won have fueled mistrust.

Finally, the United States can use another pressure point. It must freeze the millions of dollars of military assistance Kenya receives each year, pending a successful outcome to the negotiations. Some of the security forces benefiting from this aid and equipment have been killing Kenyan civilians with impunity. The United States must not be an accessory to their brutality.

The Annan agreement presents an opportunity for Kenya to step back from the brink of disaster. Kenya can now fix the “winner take all” political system that prompted the recent election rigging, and end the impunity for human rights violations that has dogged our country since independence.

The Annan mediation effort must push the parties to agree to a one- to two-year transitional government, with both sides exercising equal powers. This government’s chief tasks, besides keeping the country running, must be to carry out badly needed constitutional reforms around presidential powers, and to create the conditions for new free and fair elections.

Restructuring the electoral commission, the police and the judiciary is also critical. The perpetrators of the election fraud and the violence must be prosecuted to restore Kenyans’ faith in the power of the vote. Only then can new presidential elections be held.

The current calm must not be mistaken for peace. A critical opportunity will be lost if the mediation effort results only in political horse-trading between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga. Without these critical reforms, the gains made in the last few days will secure only a short-lived truce.

Above all, the United States and the world must ensure that the Kenyan people’s vote is respected. If we cannot uphold our democratic choice, the future of Kenya will be lost.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hypocrisy abounds, first in the media

Let me clarify that I have nothing personal against NMG.

I would like to draw your attention to the Nation editorial today: In the editorial, titled 'Annan must insist on a ceasefire first' combined with former Subukia MPs Koigi Wamwere's 'Power-sharing most viable option' in the op-ed leave a lot to be desired.

Read the full editorial here:

And Koigi's commentary here:

Which is an abuse to Father Gabriel Dolan's commentary calling for a transitional government under a constitutional arrangement on the same page here:

The editorial says in part: 'It is a fact almost a prerequisite (sic) for negotiations to any conflict that the protagonists must first agree to a ceasefire while the talks continue.'

Koigi Wamwere in the op-ed urges Kibaki to form a government of national unity incorporating Raila as PM. He admits that he urged Kibaki to consider making Kalonzo his veep twice before the appointment was made. Whether that is also an admission that he is complicit in the chaos we are experiencing is for you to judge.

Let me begin with the editorial. Couched in the language of diplomacy, the issue it seems to be addressing by focusing on Annan's mission, it asks Kibaki and Raila to "urge their respective supprters to lay down their arms during the search for peace". Nation fails to take notice of its own page 1 report that several teargas canisters were lobbed into a funeral service addressed by Raila yesterday. The context was that Rail was speaking when a group of youngsters started robbing motorists on Ngong Road. Instead of dealing with the criminal gang, police spilled it over into the funeral service.

The questions to ask are:
1. Between those at the funeral service at Ligi Ndogo and those on Ngong road terrorising motorists, who were Raila's supporters?
2. Assuming that those criminals who provoked the police were truly Raila's supporters, did they bear arms as Nation is saying? Compare that to a story in Standard (Page 4) where in Limuru, police responding to a similar attack on motorists were shot. Let me quote it: "But some of the youths in the Limuru fracas were armed with guns and fired back."
3. By asking Raila to urge his supporters to lay down their arms, Nation is suggesting that Raila sent the criminals to cause mayhem on Ngong road, and that he has the power to ask them to lay down their arms (whatever that means). It also means Raila is somehow, culpable in the acts of that gang.

Turning on Kibaki, noting that Nation also asks him to make his supporters lay down their arms, the following questions emerge:
1. Are police, since they bear arms, Kibaki's supporters?
2. Now that it emerges from the Standard story that indeed, some party supporters bear arms, were the criminals in Limuru Kibaki's supporters? Are they part of the revived Mungiki gang?
3. Under what circumstances should Kibaki order police to lay down their arms? Does it mean nation recognises he is responsible for the extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the police in Kisumu and elsewhere?

Onto other related issues, ODM, which we can say Raila is in control of as its team leader, has called off mass protests twice, today and last week. In reciprocation, Kibaki appointed a cabinet as Kufuor was landing in the the country. More people have been killed by police in uniform, falling directly under Kibaki's command. Why did Nation see it fit to press Raila to cede more ground when Kibaki is heading the opposite direction?

I'll be brief on Koigi's commentary. If Kibaki should form a coalition with Raila and Kalonzo, what does it mean for the future? Will future presidential contenders (Waweru Ng'ethe, Pius Muiru, Nazlin Umar etc) automatically qualify?

A more fundamental issue has to do with the constitution. Koigi Wamwere thinks we have short memories. During the Bomas conference, he and Kivutha Kibwana were vehemently opposed to the creation of an executive PM's post. Indeed, he followed that up by not only persuading fellow delegates to walk out of Bomas but proceeded to campaign vigorously for the Wako draft that ddi away with the executive PM's post. Now he is asking Kibaki to make Rail a PM. Let me quote his third para.

"However, for Raila to join a coalition with Kibaki, the President must invite him. But having made Kalonzo Musyoka, the third man in the presidential race, his vice president, President Kibaki should make Raila, the second runner, prime minister and cede reasonable powers to him, as he should cede others to VP."

Thinking we are easily deluded, Koigi even suggests that his proposal would "enhance our democracy, not weaken it. I know this will hurt opposition in parliament but our democracy can only be built upon a foundation of reconciliation, justice, peace and unity."

Knowing full well that Parliament is the only means by which ODM can be heard, the judiciary and executive in Kibaki's grip, Koigi wants the opposition killed for the sake of reconciliation, justice, peace and unity.

Need I say more about this blatant arrogance and myopic hypocrisy?

Nation's carrying of Koigi's comment may be excusable since that is a personal opinion. However, to do so at a time when the country is trying to heal (you would think that's why it had the mass action called off as its lead story rather than the teargas at Raila's rally, for example), is to portray partisan interests as the real motivation.

Oh, did you notice that in the print edition the Koigi article is carried under the banner 'Mending Fences'? I think NMG is not just being cheeky but downright dishonest.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Internally Displaced Person

I'd always read about IDPs. Today I'm one of them. I had to flee from my place where I lived with my family to seek refuge at a friend's place near Nairobi. Where I live is dominated by 'President' Kibaki's Kikuyu people. I got reports that a group of Mungiki were planning to raid houses belonging to non-Kikuyus in their area so I fled with my family.

Incidentally, my neighbors are Kikuyu and they warned me of danger. Not that they were threatening me but warning me of which places to avoid. They were my keepers and I salute them.

I just realized that a website for Kenyans,, is no longer accessible from Nairobi. The media have a ban on live broadcasts so blogs like that were the only reliable source of information, especially for Kenyans abroad.

Today the stalemate between Kibaki and Raila remains. I insist Kibaki needs to resign. In my culture, you do not rob a man of his wife and call him to negotiate as she cooks for you. A rungu on your head will soon bring you back to reality.

I do not advocate violence, especially now that I'm a victim. However, I feel that the kind of turmoil we are experiencing now will teach us to respect the people's will. There is talk that ODM should forget the presidency and move on, or strike a deal with Kibaki. People seem to forget that Kibaki's dishonoring of such gentleman's agreements is legendary. And who knows if he will agree to step down in 2012?

Fellow Kenyans, let us stop the violence, but never forget the lesson from the fiasco in our country. This should never happen again.