Thursday, November 12, 2009

I wonder why the government and the people in general always view prisons as a form of Justice. To them, the only way of executing the decisions of the court is through either fines (for minor offences) and through imprisonment. This is a very erroneous way of thinking.
Unfortunately, it has been put in the mind set of Kenyans and Africans in general (by the colonialists, of course) that imprisonment is actually justice and nearly everyone is satisfied by that “fact.” Basically, both the victim and the wrong doer get a psychological sense of justice, even the judge and everyone in the process get the sense of justice, psychological.  This thence brings in some psychological satisfaction, rather than justice itself.
If I steal kshs5000 from you today and there is proof that I stole the cash. Then for some reason I don’t have the money (either I have spent it, or I am just refusing with it). Then you report to the authorities, and they finally prosecute me and they imprison me for say one year, how will that help you? You will still be kshs5000 poorer!  Furthermore, if you get the satisfaction that I won’t be stealing from you the following day, then, if I want, I will still steal from you the following year!
If someone chops your hand off, kills your son, defiles your daughter, or orders the annihilation of a whole tribe or race, how will the imprisonment of this fellow bring justice? Will it bring your hand back? Will it resurrect your son? Will it undefile your daughter? Will it bring the tribe back? Of course the answer to all the above is negative. But is the imprisonment of the fellow any justice? The answer again is no.
If I take a man I consider as one of Kenya’s greatest criminal, former president Moi. The guy stole large tracks of land, the guy incarcerated hundreds of innocent Kenyans, under his watch, many political prisoners were killed, he was one man who ran down the economy of Kenya, he sponsored ethnic cleansing which haunt the country to this day, he institutionalized corruption, and probably did more evil outside the public eye. Taking him to prison will not bring back what he stole, the lives he took etc. in any case the mzee is already on surplus years.
Real Justice should have three results;

  1. 1.       It should executed in a manner that will prevent the criminal from committing the same or any other crime in the future
  2. 2.       It should be done in a way that the victim will benefit (this is where possible, especially in thievery, defamation, damage to property, and such )
  3. 3.       It should be implemented in a fashion that any criminal and would be criminal would seriously reconsider their ways

For instance, after I steal you kshs5000, instead of being imprisoned, I should be made to repay you money, plus some damages. I should also be made to foot the cost of the whole trial. The cost of the damages should be calculated in a manner that will firstly benefit the victim big time, and secondly, such that I, the thief will feel the pinch.
Say I earn kshs20 000 per month, I could be made to pay my victim say kshs10 000 in the first salary I get, then pay kshs7 000 I the next month, and finally give to the courts 10 000 of my third salary.
In the occasion that I am not earning, then the state should look for some job for me. I should be employed under custody. There are those jobs, like Quarry work, or construction work that are always in abundance, and require none, or just one day experience (and a tough supervisor!).
Or better still, in order to make me marketable, the state can look for someone on whose farm I can work, and pay me half the market rates. Then I would work in my field till I repay the kshs5000 that I had stolen, and probably an extra of kshs5000, plus another kshs2000 for the courts.
At the same time, reform should be preached to the fellow, so that they may understand that they are not being punished, but only that justice is being administered. They should be made to see the light and do what is right.
For the fellow who defiles, kills, life imprisonment won’t be enough, there is no point for life to a person who ends it (by the way, here I am talking of murder, not inadvertent killing). But also ending the person’s life is not good enough.
The fellow should be subjected to short, sharp, shocks that will ensure that the fellow won’t die, but endure extreme pain. This will ensure some kind of pain, before eventually executing the fellow. Otherwise if the fellow is just summarily executed, it would just cancel out, no justice. His death must be slower and more painful than that of his victim. This pain should be intermittent (to avoid the fellow getting used to, and then immune to It.) it should also be both physical and psychological.
The above action should be done in an establishment whose name would suggest punishment (not correction), e.g. the punishary
For the likes of Moi, he should be taken to the punishary, but before that, whatever would be remaining of his thievery should be reposed, together with what it had earned over the years, that is, if he had stolen some chunk of land and used the profits from that land to invest in the transport industry, then that transport business of his should also be repossessed.
Lastly, in my strongest opinion, an eye for an eye is no justice. An ear for an ear is no justice at all. This is because the maimer was not justified to pluck off the victim’s eye in the first place.
To me, justice is an eye for two eyes, an ear for a pair and a ball for two balls.

All in all, the above becomes justice when it is JUSTICE. In Kenya, we have people who go to jail because the judge was bribed, we have those who go to prison because they didn’t have qualified legal representation, we have those who suffer because of shoddy, unscrupulous and/or malicious investigations, we have those who are incarcerated for political, racial, religious and such other reasons.
Until that day that the above will come to an end, then it will be impossible to get real justice in Kenya.

Benedict Wachira mamLuki
Friday 6th November 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kenyan women: Stand up and lead us

Why Kenyan women must come out and lead
There other day I went this political forum, where the going was all smooth until we got to the plenary. The plenary discussion itself didn’t have any problems. The problem (at least with me), began when the Man who was facilitating it, decided to deny me a chance so that he could give a chance to a woman. Again, giving a chance to a woman was not the problem, no. the problem was that, there was no woman who had lifted her hand up, and the fellow have to plead with the women for about one and a half minutes, and finally, one of them decided to break the silence, and went ahead to give a short presentation which had nothing to do with what the forum was all about (though I can’t blame her, she probably was desperate to end this deadlock brought about by this facilitator!). The fellow was purporting to be doing this for the sake of gender parity. I would not like to look like some gender chauvinist, especially given that in some regions in Kenya, women have been taught not to speak amongst men. But this forum was being hosted at one of the major colleges in Nairobi, and other than the students, young professional were among us.
Being the open minded person that I am, who speaks his mind out, I showed my displeasure with the incident when I was given my chance to speak (of course, after first presenting what was relevant to the forum). After my speaking of my mind out, very many women lifted their hands to speak, rather, to protest against my statement, demanding that I withdraw it.

I have always admired strong women who have been remarkable and leaders of leaders in their own right, from the iron ladies of Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher (though would not agree with them on principle), the likes of indira Gandhi and Serleaf Johnson, to Winnie Mandela and Wangari Mathaai.
There is actually this painting of the French liberty woman by Eugene Delacroize which I admire a lot (not her half-nakedness, but the way she leads the revolution with a flag on one hand and a bayonet on the other).

As a kid, I used to be owed by the legend of wangu wa Makeri who used to rule over the Kikuyu men, and as a high school student, the stories of women who participated in Maumau, both in the trenches and as non-combat  soldiers would take me off my feet.
These are women who had to rise above many difficulties, from religious setbacks, to unfair cultural settings………. And this brings me to our women today.

Why is it that Kenyan women take (or are taken to) the back seat, when it comes to leadership whereas it is a well known fact that women are more resilient than men, women are physically, yes, physically stronger than men, women have better communication skills than men, women can easily multi task, women can attract sympathy and even empathy in almost all situations (including where they are wrong) among many other advantages over men?
Taking an example of our mothers, even when times are so hard, they maintain their cool, calm and are collected. They do not run from responsibility. They stand for what is right. They are prudent and careful, and they are extremely hard working.
In my opinion, the strong women, the women of substance, most of the women out there are not aware of their potential. Then there are those who are aware of their potential, but are waiting for others to make the moves.
Women need to stand up and push for non partisan non sexist change in this country. Women should stand up and give leadership for this country. Women must stand up and finish the revolution that was started by the Maumau, and stabilized by the liberators of the 80s.
But in order for women to lead, in order for them to finish the revolution, they need to collectively rise above kitchen pettiness, maedeleo ya wanawake (and other reactionary, pacification groups), self-doubt, jealousy and blind loyalty to other women(some women will support one of their own, even when they are wrong, for the mere fact that they are women! This in turn leads to general dismissal of women, based on the mis-performance of these individual women)
The woman just needs to have a clean history, be courageous, be confident, should appear as a leader for everyone (non-tribal, non-regional, and above all, non-sexist), and above all, she should be just a woman, not a male wanna be.
She should also be ready for chauvinistic abuses, threats and all that goes on in Kenyan politics.

Otherwise, for the time being, we are waiting!!!!!

Benedict Wachira Mamluki

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My favourite poem

 My favourite revolutionary poem is The Internationale: It was done by Eugene Potier in 1871. it became the theme for international socialism, and it was translated into tens of languages(it was originally done in French),

The Internationale

Arise ye workers from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We'll change henceforth the old tradition
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.
So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction
On tyrants only we'll make war
The soldiers too will take strike action
They'll break ranks and fight no more
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride
They soon shall hear the bullets flying
We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear
E'er the thieves will out with their booty
And give to all a happier lot.
Each at the forge must do their duty
And we'll strike while the iron is hot.

Eugene Pottier

Benedict Wachira Mamluki

Blame the system

Blame the system
The government is responsible for everything that happens to Kenyans and non Kenyans within our borders, and Kenyans without our borders. The government has the mandate and the power to control everything (literally), every aspect and all sectors of human life.
This mandate, whether given by the people -democratically, stolen from the people, purported to be from the people, passed down in the family, gotten through revolutionary means (both popularly and unpopularly), acquired through a coup d’etat or gotten through whatever means, is a mandate that any government must fulfill as long as it is in power.
In Kenya, people have this habit of blaming some things on themselves, or amongst themselves, instead of putting the blame where it belongs (in the government!). Kenyans also have this habit of praising other quarters for their successes, which should not be the case.

For instance, here is a person in my village, called Mwangi, who drinks irresponsibly, and talks vulgar, sleeps on the streets, causes some village fights and commits other SOCIAL misbehaviours, which not only irritate the other villagers, but sets a bad example to the younger generations.
It is the role of the government to apprehend this fellow, take him for counseling, and probably together with his family and other neighbours, get to the root of his behaviour, and come up with a method of helping this fellow change.
If the government tries all this (and other measures) and still fails, Mwangi should be removed from our village, and taken somewhere where he can receive further help.
If it is realized that Mwangi does all these misconducts intentionally, fully aware of his mischief, then he should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed.

If Otieno is a farmer, and his cow falls sick and dies. He should blame the government for that. It is the role of the government to inspect livestock in the whole country. It is the job of the government to employ enough (qualified) field officers who should advice on, prevent and treat any livestock in their regions.
If the govt has already employed and facilitated this officer, but the fellow is not doing his rounds, then the fellow should be dealt with accordingly.
If the cow died of some incurable disease, it is the role of the govt to prevent further spread and deaths by ensuring that the dead cow is disposed off appropriately, and that all the other animals in the area are screened and probably quarantine till the situation is arrested.

When Wafula, who pursues some strange convictions, decides not to take his son, Wanyonyi, to school for some reason (including a vision from God), the govt must compel Wafula, to take his son to school, and ensure that Wanyonyi has the best environment for learning. Wafula should also be warned that should he continue with his convictions which go against the govt’s policies, he will be arrested and charged.
If Wafula is a member of some cult that promotes these kinds of ideas, then the leadership of this church should be taken into custody, and the followers should be de-educated off these teachings.
Should Wanyonyi go to school, but performs miserably, it should be the role of government, through the teachers, supervisors and inspectors, to know the reason for this poor performance,,,, Could it be that Wanyonyi lacks the necessary reading materials? Is it that his teachers ignore him? Could it be that Wafula doesn’t give him space and the moral to learn? Could Wanyonyi be having some brain problem? Then the govt should come up with some solution to help Wanyonyi.
If Wanyonyi sits his KCSE, the govt should provide him with an option of furthering his studies, sharpening his skills, or building on his talents. Should he make it to the University, he should be advised accordingly on what to course to select, the expectations in that course, and basically what it entails. On Wanyonyi’s final year at the university, he should fill a form on where he wants to work, or what he wants to do with his life after school. If he wants to go into business or agriculture, the govt should help him build on his idea, interrogate it and make it feasible, and eventually loan him the necessary funds to start off.

This type of responsibility should obviously be duplicated to higher govt (and private) offices, and should be implemented in much bigger scenarios.
The same case applies to whatever good happens in the citizens’ lives. We eat, sleep and work thanks to the systems of the government.
Benedict Wachira Mamluki

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Kenya I want.

The Kenya I want.
I want a Kenya where we have minimums. Minimums in all aspects. A Kenya where we have standards, standards that are always revised and improved after given periods of time.
There should be stipulated standard of housing. A standard that covers the types, materials, minimum size, number of rooms, the minimum standards of sanitation among other things. Once these minimum standards have been established (by professionals of course), the government should purpose to implement the proposals from the professionals.
In my opinion, for Nairobi in particular, Slums like Kibera, Korogocho, Mathare, the Mukurus and the likes should not be in existence in an economy like ours.
The slums in Nairobi (at our current economy), should be estates like Dandora, Kayole, Kawangware, basically most of eastlands, the good side of Mathare, and places equivalent to these estates.
By 2025, our slums, with proper planning, should be places comparable to BuruBuru.
Should such standards be set, issues which cost a lot to the economy like communicable diseases and crime (both in the slums, and those who use the slums as their hide outs) would considerably reduce, and most importantly, there will be a general uplifting of the social well being of the citizens.
Laws on these minimum standards should be passed, and anyone who goes below these standards, should face an extremely severe punishment.
Minimum Standards should be set on the kind, quality and level of education that one can have. This is irrespective of whether the education is offered by the government, or privately.
Again, In my opinion, with the current conditions in our third world country, the least (minimum) level of education that Kenyans should have is mid level college education.
The quality up to this level is currently of agreeable standards (in my opinion!), only that it needs to be modified a bit, so that it can train people on how to deal with small situations like procedures to be followed in the hospitals, the importance to behave soberly on our highways, the need to adopt adoption, encourage people to know and always demand for their rights when it is not forthcoming common decency etc. it should also inculcate in to people the importance of blue collar jobs and the capacity to create jobs, rather than to be employed (especially for campus graduates).
We should have minimums on the kind of health care that one can get from our hospitals, the minimum facilities that can be available to an institution that qualifies to be called a hospital, the minimum staff (nurses, doctors and subordinates) that should serve in such institutions and many other minimums.
In Kenya, with our poor economy, anything that qualifies to be called a hospital should have at least four doctors, thirty nurses for a bed capacity of two hundred people (which should be the minimum capacity). Should have a morgue with a capacity of 20 bodies (to cater for those who might pass on while undergoing treatment, and for those who might be brought in from outside).
The Kenya I want should even determine the minimum quantity of food that people should have, and it should be the obligation of the government to see to it that this actually happens. This should be done by ensuring that food (proper diet) is affordable to all. Every region should have the capacity to feed and nourish itself in the worst of the situations.
The nation should even have a minimum level of poverty, such that people cannot be poor below a certain level.
The Kenya I want.
The Kenya I want is a Kenya that will facilitate me to build the nation, a Kenya that will help me have a comfortable life.
If I am in business, and I have one employee, and I would like to expand my business, hence employ some two more guys, get some more profits(hence pay more taxes), increase the amounts that is being distributed to me(hence benefiting those higher in the production chain) , then the government should facilitate my expansion, by ensuring that there are enough credit facilities, that charge an affordable rate, that there is enough security, and that I can access the latest and the best methods of conducting the business that I am in.
If I am a millionaire, and I would to invest in the entertainment industry, the government should provide me with a conducive environment to invest in this industry. If it is the licenses, the process should be easy and expeditious.
The government should always seek to improve people’s lives, and those who would like to improve their lives further, the government should facilitate this.
Unless we have these minimums, and unless Kenya reviews these minimums so as to always improve on them, then this cannot be the Kenya that I want.
Wachira Benedict Mamluki