Tuesday, 24 September 2013

#WeAreNotOne – Sorry to burst your bubble Kenyans

If there is an international medal that Kenyans deserve, it is that for hypocrisy, pretence and shameless double-standing. Now because of #Westgate #WeAreOne?. I say HOG WASH. These are the kind of scapegoats we so look forward to. Those that help us forget our evil, burry our heads in the sand, avoid the truth and fail to confront the structural and historical cradles of our disunity.

Look we lost more than double the statistic at WestGate in Tana River not so long ago. How about Bungoma? Baragoi? Sinai? yet we #wereNOTONE? Wait until we burry the fallen at WestGate, we will come back home. Yes, we will return home to our filth, to our stinking ethnocentrism, to our neolithic political bigotry and of course to the chronicty of our poverty of morals.

Wake up Kenyans, WE ARE NOT one. Such faddish sloganeering is the reason we miss out on every opportunity to confront our inadequacies and mend the fabric of our tired tattered nationhood (if we ever did the wafts and the wefts in the fast place).

Come to think of it: Didn't we pass a new constitution thinking it’s the panacea for all our ills, was it? - NOPE. Didn't we insist on devolution thinking it is the answer to all our inequities, is it? - NOPE. Didn't we spend resources, intellect and emotions reforming our judiciary thinking it is the rebirth our justice framework, is it? - NOPE. Didn't we give our all to the IIEC/IEBC hoping it is the ultimate rejuvenation of our electoral system, was it? - NOPE. 

I am almost convinced that for Kenya, the problem has got nothing to do with the institutions or laws or legislation. The problem is squarely on us Kenyans. Yes YOU and ME. Shameless human beings so bent on our selfish inclinations that public interest - nationhood - has no bearing absolutely. That is why we need foreign aggression to remind us that we are all Kenyan. That is why we need Al Qaeda to bomb us, Al shabab to take us hostage kill and maim our loved ones, CNN to demean our psyche or Museveni to undermine our intelligence.

Until we learn and appreciate that we are all bound by the same history, bound by same joys and pains of living Kenya, and bound by the commonality of our aspirations we will not be ONE.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Kenya that won't be cowed

I found the honesty in this article quite interesting. While bluntly pointing out the ills and misgivings that have denied Kenya the glory it so deserves, David Blair of The Telegraph does not falter to affirm the uniqueness of the resilience of the Kenyan nation. It is a step away from the biased international coverage that Africans invariably whine about. I could not help but appreciate. I REPOST:

Its people were among the first to suffer at the hands of al-Qaeda; they have the resilience and resources to put this latest attack behind them. 

There is a dreadful symmetry to the terrorist atrocity in Kenya. The outrage in Westgate shopping centre shows not only the enduring ability of al-Qaeda’s brethren to kill and maim in the teeth of the biggest counter‑terrorism campaign in history, it reminds us that Nairobi was the place where Osama bin Laden’s network first demonstrated its lethal potency. Almost exactly 15 years ago, a truck bomb exploded two miles from the site of the Westgate mall. The heavily fortified US embassy was the nominal target, but a vulnerable nearby tower block bore the brunt of the blast. For a terrible instant, the sky above the crowded streets of central Nairobi rained shards of jagged glass, blinding scores of bystanders. I happened to visit Nairobi a week later and the gaping shell of the ruined tower block, devoid of a single intact window, marked the aftermath of a massacre that had claimed 212 lives. So Kenya has already suffered one of the heaviest blows that terrorism can inflict – and achieved a recovery. Despite today’s agony, the country is strong enough to do so again.

Kenyans live under a terrible political system, riddled with tribalism and corruption, symbolised by the fact that their vice-president, William Ruto, is now standing trial at The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court has given him a week’s leave from the dock to fly home to deal with the current crisis. The unusual spectacle of the men who run Kenya flitting between The Hague and their offices in Nairobi may soon become familiar: President Uhuru Kenyatta will go on trial before the ICC in November, charged with the same offences. But Kenya’s immense potential somehow manages to survive the plunder and misrule of its leaders – and it will similarly outlast the threat of terrorism. 

True, the country’s economy is dangerously dependent on the goodwill of outsiders, whether tourists or investors, and some people will understandably react to the scenes on their television screens by cancelling a holiday. Many others, however, will recognise that the Westgate attack is just the kind of incident that, frankly, could have happened in dozens of capitals across the world, including London. 

If the past is any guide, Kenya’s vital tourist industry – the country’s biggest source of hard currency – will now suffer a temporary dip, before achieving a recovery. Al-Qaeda’s attack on Nairobi in 1998 was actually followed by a sustained boom in visitor numbers. In that year, Kenya recorded 900,000 tourist and business arrivals; by 2006, this total had risen by over 75 per cent to hit 1.6 million. 

Since that peak, the number of visitors has fallen, dropping to 1 million in 2008, when weeks of violence after a disputed election claimed at least 1,300 lives. But even after that bloodshed, the number of arrivals rebounded, reaching 1.3 million in 2010 and staying at that level ever since. Look more closely and the visitor numbers confirm that Kenya is a special place in the eyes of many Britons. Come terrorist attack or post-election bloodbath, British citizens always comprise the biggest single group of visitors, usually by a wide margin. Of the 1.3 million foreigners who arrived in Kenya in 2011, more than 200,000 came from Britain, well ahead of the next biggest contingent, 120,000 Americans.

Why is this so? From the Rift Valley to the Maasai Mara, Kenya still has magnificent wilderness. But the country is tied to Britain by language, history and tradition; it is also a place where 20,000 Britons live. Many of those on the plane from Heathrow to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will not be tourists but people who see themselves as going home. Meanwhile, trade between Britain and Kenya totals at least £1 billion and about half of the companies listed on the Nairobi stock exchange are linked to the UK in some way. This year, the Department for International Development will also give the country £150 million of aid. 

On a day like this, it may seem odd to point out the obvious: that all this represents a vote of confidence in Kenya. When al-Qaeda left its bloodstained calling card in 1998, it would have seemed far-fetched for Nairobi to have a world-class facility such as Westgate shopping mall. The fact that investors were willing to build one, despite the endemic problems posed by corruption and collapsing infrastructure, showed their belief that Kenya’s rapidly growing population of 40 million represented a neglected consumer market. Since then, the country has achieved annual economic growth of 5 per cent – not enough to break out of poverty, but not bad either. That growth is based on a diverse economy, encompassing commercial agriculture and manufacturing as well as tourism.

By virtue of geography, Kenya serves as the commercial hub for East and Central Africa, providing the region’s biggest port at Mombasa and the key trade route for a string of landlocked countries, ranging from South Sudan to Burundi. China has now signed a £3.2 billion deal to rebuild Kenya’s transport links, including the British-built railways. And last year oil was discovered in the arid Turkana region, meaning that Kenya is set to join the world’s select club of crude exporters by 2016. 
If Kenya’s national infrastructure gets a makeover courtesy of China, and the nation starts to export oil and make full use of its natural position as the key link for African trade, it has a real chance to break free from poverty. That was true before 15 fanatics began massacring innocents in Westgate mall on Saturday – and it remains true today.

But Kenya’s geography is also a curse: its largely unguarded 430-mile border with Somalia helps to explain Nairobi’s current ordeal. The greatest dangers to Kenya come not from international terrorism, however, but from within, notably from a corrupt political system that serves as tragic reflection of a society scarred by ethnic division.

“Under all the layers, at the base of the giant mound, lies the same solid bedrock: Kenyans’ dislocated notion of themselves,” writes Michela Wrong in It’s Our Turn to Eat. “The various forms of graft cannot be separated from the people’s vision of existence as a merciless conflict in which only ethnic preference offers hope of survival.”

Mr Kenyatta is an authentic product of the political system bequeathed by his father Jomo, the first president after independence in 1963. Like the Italians and the Lebanese, however, Kenyans have mastered the ability to prosper and succeed despite their politicians. And Mr Kenyatta responded to the Westgate outrage with robust moral clarity of a kind that has fallen out of use in the West. “We shall not relent on the war on terror: we shall continue that fight and we urge all people of goodwill throughout the world to join us and to ensure that we uproot this evil,” he said.

In 2011, Kenya sent 5,000 troops into southern Somalia to secure the border area after a series of attacks. The Kenyan army has taken the offensive, recently capturing the vital port of Kismayo from al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate that claims responsibility for the Westgate attack. Under pressure in its homeland, al-Shabaab has threatened to retaliate against any country that sends troops into Somalia. Kenya’s military presence makes it an obvious target. But Mr Kenyatta, who inherited the Somalia operation from his predecessor, had a defiant response: “If their thought is that this was to intimidate us, it has only increased our commitment to fight and win this war.”
The details and the pictures that will emerge from Nairobi in the next few days will be harrowing, but do not judge by appearances. Kenya’s story is one of resilience, not fragility: it has recovered from al-Qaeda’s ravages in the past and will do so again.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sovereignty my left armpit, mscheeew!

The tragedy with us Africans is after we swindle our people, maim and kill them, we always search and dust the old tattered PanAfricanist card to play. Quite convenient isn't it? - blame it on the white man, blame it on imperialism, neocolonialism, globalization whatever you like to call it right. 

You can say a million but the US and those other countries you laughably attempt to compare Kenya to, for not being signatories to the ICC, scarcely need Den Haag. Their judicial systems (with their inadequacies) do not allow morons, coldhearted scumbags and chest thumping criminals, murders and rapists like the ones we got here in Kenya to commit atrocities and get away with it. I can say this - they do not need international judicial mechanisms so much as we do. Yes we 'moral high horse ridding' Africans. Their political systems do not allow even an adulterous CEO to keep office, let alone a politician to even contemplate running for political office with accusations of crimes against humanity hanging around their necks. Ask Herman Cain, Ask Dominic Strauss Khan ... 

Hate it or love it, the day you allowed clowns accused of grave violations on human rights and dignity to wear party colors, show up on national TV and gallivant the country campaigning to be president is the day you allowed the sovereignty of the so free 'Kenya' you are 'fettishly' obsessed with to be ridiculed molested and demeaned. 

People ran for office in full knowledge of the consequences of being answerable to the ICC and discharging state duties simultaneously. Kid only the naive, the captives of sycophancy and ethnocentric twaddle who like to believe that the President and his deputy sitting at the Hague answering to criminal charges (like any other Kenyan would at the high court away from their families or jobs) really should worry anybody.

After all, who eats sovereignty? How much sovereignty is served on dinner tables in the evening in Kenyan households? What have you done with the sovereign Kenya for the past 5 decades? How much foreign direct investment has sovereignty brought to our economy? How many jobs? uh? How many destitute kids has it assured food, clothing, good health? How many mothers has it prevented from still births and dangerous maternal illness?  

The sovereignty that Africans deserved over the past 50 years, they have gotten. What they have done with it is for you to judge. These same losers now cry-babying are the same busybodies that applauded and appended signatures to a law that they scarcely took time to understand, to interrogate its motives and to judge its merits. Today, fourteen years down the lane, when we sadly determine that the egg we naively fertilized is too big for our cervix to deliver, we suddenly have a sovereignty problem. A problem too great, so urgent and verily important that the escalating cost of living and the lingering unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country can wait.

Ha! I say go shove it up folks. You have more important things to worry about. The perceived danger to your sovereignty is a mockery of the hopes and aspirations of your people. Take that 'African Renaissance' balderdash to the bin Kabando wa Kabando. Fix the economy, give husbands jobs, assure young people of their future, allow women equal opportunity to determine their destinies (and some money to shop and enjoy womanhood YAWA), let children enjoy their childhood, allow families the economic freedom to live life and appreciate their culture, ethnicity and heritage. That, mes camarades, is how to build a sovereign nation. Not by shamelessly playing to the gallery of international politics where no one gives a rap about your act.

Let those who committed crimes face the full force of the law. Let those innocent, wrongly accused, be acquitted and apologized to. Let us ACCEPT and MOVE ON.