Sunday, November 6, 2011

Heroes, Population, Al Shabaab, Inflation, Elections, IMF, ICC, IDPs and my frustrations

At times, analyzing how things in Kenya function can be frustrating, at other times, doing something about it is even more frustrating. To pick just a few;

It is now four years since thousands of innocent people were killed, raped, maimed, and displaced from their homes, for the crime of voting for the ‘wrong’ presidential candidate (belonging to the ‘wrong’ tribe, to be more exact)
Four years later, we still have Internally Displaced People living in tented camps. Four years later, we have culprits, some of whom are well known to the victims walking free as if nothing ever happened. Some of the victims’ homes are still occupied (the homes which were not burnt to the ground), and some of the victims’ properties are still in the hands of the killers.
Internally Displaced People's Camps
So everyone is focusing on the ‘Ocampo Six’ and no talk is made of the culprits who implemented the actual crimes. We have government officials running around politicizing the IDPs issue, with billions of shillings going into maintenance (not so good food, some medicine here and there) of these IDPs instead of dealing with the issue once and for all….(some of these IDPs used to produce tons of food on their farms, yet they are now forced to live as beggars of food)
What frustrates me is that politics (or plain stupidity) is preventing these government people from solving this non-complex issue.
It is a right for any Kenyan to own property and to live anywhere they want. It is the duty of the government to protect all Kenyans anywhere in Kenya.
So here we have these government ministers very busy looking for land to settle these IDPS, yet that is not the solution.
I believe that those living in the IDP camps can still remember where their farms and houses are.
1.       Ensure that there is enough security in the regions that these IDPs came from and assure them of their security.
2.       Take them back to their houses for those whose houses are still there. Give reconstruction money to those whose houses were burnt, while giving them alternative accommodation as they rebuild their houses.
3.       Give them some little start up money, for businesses or farming.
4.       Conduct justice, then reconciliation campaigns in these regions.
5.       For those who had homes but fear going back, for whatever reason, they should just be compensated in cash: Valuate their property, and give them the money so that they can go to wherever they want, after which the government should then take over the  ownership of the property.
6.       Flat compensation should then be given to those who didn’t own permanent property but still lost what they owned.
This would be simpler than the government giving them 50K today, buying land (from Njenga Karume) tomorrow or Uhuru Kenyatta promising to resettle them in Taita Taveta (the land that his father stole from Kenyans.)
>>>One thing that the IDP issue has clearly shown is the class nature of our politics. If our politics was just tribal, then Kibaki would have used that tribalism and dealt conclusively with the IDP issue<<<

I consider The International Criminal Court as a tool of Imperialism, and that is what it is.  That is why it has majored its activities in Africa, the continent with abundance of resources, greedy and cowardly leaders and the continent that is very weak militarily (oh how I wish Gaddafi would have developed those W.M.Ds-Weapons of Maximum Defense)
Every time the face of Moreno Ocampo or his utterances-(which just like Arap Sang,,,I strain to comprehend) appear, it will always be about some African rebel, some African President, some African.… and the qualification for this African criminal is that he must first be an enemy of the U.S, France or Britain. That is why a warrant of arrest will be given to El Bashir and not to Kagame, to Gaddafi (and his family) and not to Ben Ali/Mubarak (and their families), to Gbagbo and not to Ouattara, to the leaders of LRA rebels and not to leaders of NTC rebels etc.
People have always asked why, even after what has gone down in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are no cases or warrants of arrest for Bush and Blair.(….some wonder why there is no warrant of arrest for Mugabe…..for the crime of NOT allowing 7,000 white farmers to own 85% of all land in Zimbabwe…)
The above comparisons are just for clearing up the imperialist nature of the ICC, i.e, even if it arrested Bush, Blair, Kagame and the rest, that wouldn’t make it good. Europeans can have their own court if they so wish, and as Africans we can strengthen our own courts and the African Court of Justice.
Luis Moreno Ocampo with PM Raila Odinga and President Kibaki
Back to Kenya now. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have been going round blaming Raila for their woes at the ICC. They do not have the slightest shame while they blatantly lie to Kenyans, and this is where the frustrations continue.
Some Kenyans have bought this clear lie yet they witnessed the truth themselves. Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki went to parliament twice, asking parliament to pass a law to create a local tribunal to deal with the Post Elections Violence, and Uhuru and Ruto lead parliamentarians in shooting down the bills. Even Kofi Anan came in person and pleaded with these people but they couldn’t listen. They thought that Ocampo would have picked Raila and Kibaki instead (who are the ones that bear the greatest responsibility, in real sense)
Now, here we have Uhuru and Ruto wanting to be presidents of this country, yet they were not bright enough to see the ICC for what it is! Very frustrating in deed. I wish that that court can arrest them (and the MPs who support the ICC) so that they may probably become brighter while serving their sentences in those Hague jails.

Elections Date
We passed our new constitution last year. Our constitution clearly states that the elections will be held on the 2nd Tuesday of August, after every five years. We then have our new attorney general, PROFFESSOR Githu Muigai claiming that there is an issue of interpretation of this section of the constitution! The same is repeated by other experts and our MPs!!
It is clear that those in power today are unhappy that the new constitution denies them some four extra months of hefty salaries and influence. It was frustrating when Isaac Hassan during the final grilling for his IEBC job bowed to the PSC on elections and claimed that the elections could not be held in August.
Those people who settled on August did so for logical reasons:
1.       First, there are usually too many activities in December, and Kenyans wanted a break,
2.       secondly, many regions in Kenya experience heavy rains thus interfering with the election process
3.       and lastly, August is a school holiday month, and so the classrooms can easily be used as polling stations.
In my opinion (an opinion which strangely enough, these law makers cannot see) the elections date should actually be split, so that we can have two elections dates in the month of August, or else we should just prepare for another PEV.
Imagine a situation where a single individual votes for six or seven different individuals on one single day. Imagine further how long it will take to count these votes….isn’t this a recipe for disaster? where a candidate can easily claim that the reason as to why the results are delaying is because they are being stolen? The same argument (of delays) was used to incite people in 2007.
Also imagine a situation where an old Mzee in Nyeri is given a ballot paper for the Presidential, Senator, Governor, Parliamentary, County Representative and Women’s representative and is required to vote for one person in each. The situation will be worsened since we expect to have more candidates now that we shall have independents. This will be chaotic not just for the old, but even for the young and literate Kenyans.
Given that votes are always counted beginning with the smallest representative units, I foresee a situation where the presidential results shall be announced late, a situation which will be unconstitutional, and which will be a good breeding ground for incitement.

I hate to sound like a prophet of doom, but if things remain as they are, then we should expect some more post elections violence come 2012. Some of the reasons I have stated above: First, the election results will delay, giving good ground for incitement due to the anxiety created. Secondly, those who participated in the PEV of 2007 are still walking free, and they probably view themselves as heroes of some sorts.
In 1992, there was a bloody pre-election violence in the Rift Valley, which was organised by Moi and his KANU dictatorship so as to secure a win in the region. The same thing happened in 1997, and in 2002(though in a smaller scale.)In 2007, there was pre-election tension, which was created by Kikuyu-bashing by the ODM guys, and further propagated by the PNU guys so as to polarize all the Kikuyu votes to their side.
Some people claim that the violence was spontaneous, but for many regions, that was not true. I remember immediately after the elections results were announced, some youths (mostly Kikuyu) in our neighborhood went to a neighbor’s house, who was also a Kikuyu and a staunch Raila supporter, and started laughing at him while celebrating their victory: Then he asked them one question “Now that Kibaki has been declared the winner, what do you think will happen to Kikuyus in Kibera and Eldoret?” and the seemingly obvious answer was given, “Some Kikuyus will be killed in those regions” and then a debate in the lines of “but Kibaki will not allow killings in those regions, he will protect his voters…” ensued. This was within minutes of announcement of the elections results, and this was an analysis done by very ordinary Kenyans. The analysis was not based on prediction of spontaneity, but from the kind of campaigns that took place prior to the elections.

Panga Wielding Youth During the PEV
The victims of PEV expected protection from the government, especially then that they perceived the government as being on their side, unlike in the previous election years, but that was not the case. Four years later, many of them are still living in the camps.
There is now a feeling of hopelessness among these people. Some of those who went back have made plans to relocate from the violence areas until after the elections process is over. Others, especially the youth, have decided that they will no longer wait for the government, and that they will take matters into their own hands-Rather than dying as victims, they will die fighting-since either way, the likelihood of dying is pretty high. The danger is that they may launch preemptive attacks and this will create a situation worse than what was there in 2007.
I made a visit to Likoni at the coast sometime in July, and I met a group of women, who seemed organised, as if they were coming from a church meeting. What I later learnt was shocking. These women were women from ‘Bara’(highlands), and they were coming from a strategy meeting so that they may counter any elections violence that might occur in 2012. I also learnt (from Matatu talk) that they had resolved that they would prepare themselves and they would no longer become innocent victims like in the previous years. In the preparations, they would replace their wooden doors with metallic ones, they would send their school children to live with their relatives outside coast during the August holidays, and that each house would arm itself with a Panga, a Spear or arrows………..and these were women!
Again, if things remain as they are, the 2012 will be a close call between Raila on one side, and the G7 outfit on the other side. Raila on his own, even without the likes of Ruto and Balala is still a heavyweight. It is highly unlikely that any of them will garner the (50+1) % required, and the ground for violence will thus be prepared, especially now that precedent has shown that violence will ensure that all the strong candidates form a government, irrespective of what the constitution says.

The cost of living in Kenya has been increasing steadily since the PNU-ODM coalition government came to power. Some say that it is because the PNU-ODM guys each want a piece of the ‘National Cake.’ Back in 2008, Nairobians protested against the food price increases, and after some time, the government duped the people by bringing in two types of Unga. Expensive Unga for ‘rich’ Kenyans and Cheap Unga for slum dwellers. After a month or so, the cheap Unga disappeared.
The price of Energy, Transport and Food has continued to rise. The government even created a board to regulate the fuel prices, but this board only regulates the prices upwards-even when the international oil prices go down.
Demonstrations were called for mid this year, and frustratingly, very few Kenyans attended these demos. (I have met people who blame us for not pursuing on with the demonstrations, yet these never attended a single demo for the several days that we camped outside the president’s and prime minister’s office!)
When one wonders how poor Nairobians manage to survive through these hard times, say for a household that earns sh6000 a month, money that should cater for transport, rent, food, bills etc, one realizes that we are living in very dangerous times.

This inflation has seen the shilling weaken badly against the dollar, and the government has decided to save the situation by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund. This might be the most frustrating thing that that the ministry of finance has done in the 9 years that Kibaki has been in power.

It is obvious that the IMF loan will be escorted with conditions. The government will be asked to retrench it workers, privatize its national assets, and to open up the economy to investors without any checks. Then the economy will continue to shrink, and life will get harder.

Al Shabaab
Very little information is available about Al Shabaab. They have been branded by the Kenyan media as Somalia’s Mungiki, whose intentions are to cause terror to the people of Somalia, while the international media ranks them together with Al Qaeda.
Reports from Kenya say that they have been responsible for the kidnapping of some white fellows, killing Kenyan police and members of the Kenya Army in the last three years.
Info on Wikipedia states that one of the achievements of Al Shabaab has been to bring about food security in the regions that they operate in.
They have also been collecting ransom on ships that use the Somalia waters without paying (which is not necessarily a bad thing since the U.S, French and other naval ships charge protections fees on other ships crossing through these waters……..and why should ships take advantage of these waters anyway?)
When the Union of Islamic Courts took over almost all of Somalia some four years ago, I viewed it as a very positive step-finally the people of Somalia were getting organised under one entity which seemed to get lots of support from the ordinary people. When the Ethiopian forces, with the direct and overt support of the U.S invaded Somalia so as to kick out the UIC and strengthen the ITFG, I was saddened. this is because the ITFG, after being form in Kenya, had failed to get the support of the people of Somalia, and it even had to set up base in Baidoa rather than Mogadishu.
The Ethiopian forces showed their tactical might and managed to push the UIC to small regions of Afmardow and Kismayu, which was a surprising thing since we expected them to get serious beatings from the Somalis in Somalia. Through this, the TFG was able to set base in Mogadishu, but it still didn’t have the support of the people.
The Ethiopians managed to push the UIC away, but it could not occupy Somalia for long, and after a few years, they had to leave…and no sooner had they left than the UIC reconquered most regions in Somalia, and eventually managed to take over the structures of the TFG where some of its leaders became leaders of the TFG, and its chairman, Sharif Ahmed became the head of TFG, and current president of Somalia….hence the current government is not the former imported government, but a more legitimate one.
But before he(Sharif Ahmed) knew it, the new government was facing fierce opposition from a familiar source-the Al Shabaab-Which was once UICs youth wing.
Al Shabaab(Standing)-UIC(Seated)
We have seen women from coast province going on demonstrations complaining that certain mosques were being used as recruiting grounds for Al Shabaab, where their sons are promised a good monthly pay as they fight alongside the militia in Somalia.
When the Minister for internal security made the announcement of the Army going into Somalia, I first viewed it as an invasion of Somalia, which was not acceptable at all. Ahmed Sharif then came out a day later and stated the Somalia had welcomed Kenya’s intervention to deal with the Al Shabaab, which I then viewed it as an intervention, which in this case is acceptable…….then Sharif said that Kenya was not welcomed…..then he later said that it was welcomed……then it was not…… a very shifty President I must say-but his Prime Minister came and said that the Somalia government is fully behind the joint operation to weed out Al Shabaab.
Some Kenyans claim that the Kenya Army will be defeated just because it (the Kenya Army) is a Conventional force fighting against an asymmetrical militia. But that is never the case, if it were, then there would be no need for armies in the world. An unconventional army can only defeat a symmetrical army if the former has the support of the people. In my opinion, Al Shabaab might not be having the support of Somalian people, otherwise it would not have to recruit from Kenya, and it would not have to force people into their ranks-People would either volunteer to join in, or they would just give other forms of support. The Army will need to help build the TFG structures in the zones that they have succeeded, so as to ensure no vacuum is left behind.
But woe unto our army if the Al Shabaab has the support of the masses! Body bags and more body bags are what we shall receive till they leave Somalia.
>>>>One thing that is surely disturbing me is the fact that the French and the Americans want to be involved alongside the Kenyan Forces. The involvement of these murderous states kills any good intentions(if any) that might be in this whole intervention. The U.S assassination drones have been pounding Somalia for many months now, and they do so arbitrarily. The other day, they killed over 50 Somalian civilians, including children. We also saw the indiscriminate bombing of a Somalian coastal town by a French naval ship.The do their bombing without coordinating with the Somali government, and without any intelligence from the ground---Can't they just Keep off?!<<<<

It is hence too early to say whether the Kenyan Soldiers are heroes or not, with time, we shall get more information about the Al Shabaab, and the motivation behind the intervention.
It is never good to give heroehood or vallainship before getting the whole picture, and that is what the Kenya government did on 20th October, Mashujaa day. The government, both PNU and ODM sides were quiet when Muammar Gaddafi, the African Shujaa was murdered by a coalition of over 20 countries. On the same day, they unveiled a statue of Tom Mboya, right in the middle of the City, and declared him our “national hero.”
It is no doubt that Mboya was a brilliant orator and a smart politician-But that doesn’t make him a hero. It must be remembered that as European Colonialism was dwindling in Africa (thanks to the struggles of our real heroes), US imperialism was on the rise, and Tom Mboya was its representative in Kenya. It must also be remembered that while the likes of Makhan Singh, Bildad Kaggia, Chege Kabacia and many others heroes had suffered a lot while building the trade unions movement in Kenya and in the region, Tom Mboya fought their efforts, and the efforts of the Workers, and killed the true Workers’ movement-And his bad fruits are still seen today in the scarecrow called COTU.
What is frustrating is that they have placed his statue right in the middle of the city, where hundreds of thousands of people pass trough daily. It would have been better if they had hidden him at Tom Mboya Social hall in Buruburu.
Kenya has true heroes. Kibaki could have given us a statue of the many women heroes that we’ve had. The statue of Mekatilili Wa Menza would be a good replacement (The statue has to be replaced-once we take over the state) for the current joke. They could have erected a statue of Field Marshal Muthoni (still alive), who was the only woman to take the highest military rank in the MauMau, and one of the very few female officers in the Anti-Colonial guerillas of the 50s. It would be a great honor to her, to the hundreds of thousands of women who participated in the freedom struggles, and to the many who are still continuing with the fight.
If I were to choose between Tom Mboya and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, I would choose Jaramogi a million times more. Jaramogi never left the struggle, he never surrendered, even in his old age.
Oginga Odinga
Of course, most of his students like James Orengo, Raila Odinga and many others have failed terribly, but his mantle shines on still.

With the world population hitting 7 billion the other day, we surely need more heroes to fight for the environment that we are living in. we need people who will stand up against the capitalistic greed that disrespects and destroys the environment for profits.
As ecologist Barry Commoner once said, "Pollution begins not in the family bedroom, but in the corporate boardroom."
It is expected that some “activists” will rise against the rise in population, and they will mostly pitch tent in Africa, under the guise that Africans are too many, they procreate a lot, and that our resources are little. Throughout this year, there has been a huge campaign against couples having children, as private companies advertise pills in the name of “family planning.”
What we must understand is that African is one of the most under populated continents in the world. Africa is the second largest continent, yet we only contribute 1 billion people to the 7 billion on earth. China alone contributes around 1.5 billion, while India contributes over 1 billion souls. It is well known that India, China, U.S.A, Europe, and several other countries COMBINED are LESS in size as compared to Africa. It is also a fact that Africa is an extremely rich continent in terms of resources; from Sunshine to Rain, from Oil to Forests, From Fish to Herbs…..the only resource that we desperately lack is a huge human resource-people. Where there are no people, there is usually no development.(
Of course we remember that one of the strategies that the colonialists used when they began invading  Africa was to de-populate the black man through diseases, actual killings etc. they did the same when they were conquering America, now they will try the same by using the “We are too many in the world today” card.
If anyone feels that there are too many people in the world, let them pitch tent elsewhere, and not in our under populated Africa.
Genocidaire Paul Kagame
>>>>Rwanda President Paul Kagame has already taken the “too many people” excuse too far. It is reported that in Rwanda, a law was passed early this year, which legalised the castration of poor Rwandese people. Kagame believes that the population of Rwanda is too high, and the only way to deal with the situation is to castrate between 700, 000 and 1 million poor people, because it is the poor people who give birth to many children. Castration is permanent. He prefers to castrate them and leave them in poverty, rather than to remove them from the poverty.
What worsens the situation is that most poor people in Rwanda are Hutu and it is the government which decides who is to be castrated—So what this guy is really doing is genocide on another front. The fellow who was the minister of health in Rwanda during the tabling and passing of this bill is now the current Secretary General for the East African Community, Mr.Richard Sezibera. Could they be testing a new depopulation technique for Africa? Sad! <<<<

Benedict Wachira
3rd November 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mujahid Muammar Gaddafi Last formal Speech

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful...

For 40 years, or was it longer, I can't remember, I did all I could to give people houses, hospitals, schools, and when they were hungry, I gave them food. I even made Benghazi into farmland from the desert, I stood up to attacks from that cowboy Ronald Reagan, when he killed my adopted orphaned daughter, he was trying to kill me, instead he killed that poor innocent child. Then I helped my brothers and sisters from Africa with money for the African Union.

I did all I could to help people Understand the concept of real democracy, where people's committees ran our country. But that was never enough, as some told me, even people who had 10 room homes, new suits and furniture, were never satisfied, as selfish as they were they wanted more. They told Americans and other visitors, that they needed "democracy" and "freedom" never realizing it was a cut throat system, where the biggest dog eats the rest, but they were enchanted with those words, never realizing that in America, there was no free medicine, no free hospitals, no free housing, no free education and no free food, except when people had to beg or go to long lines to get soup.

No, no matter what I did, it was never enough for some, but for others, they knew I was the son of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the only true Arab and Muslim leader we've had since Salah-al-Deen, when he claimed the Suez Canal for his people, as I claimed Libya, for my people, it was his footsteps I tried to follow, to keep my people free from colonial domination - from thieves who would steal from us.

Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history, my little African son, Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country, to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our free food, and replace it with American style thievery, called "capitalism" ,but all of us in the Third World know what that means, it means corporations run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer.

So, there is no alternative for me, I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following His path, the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters.

I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all the thousands who are all my children, then so be it.

Let this testament be my voice to the world, that I stood up to crusader attacks of NATO, stood up to cruelty, stoop up to betrayal, stood up to the West and its colonialist ambitions, and that I stood with my African brothers, my true Arab and Muslim brothers, as a beacon of light.

When others were building castles, I lived in a modest house, and in a tent. I never forgot my youth in Sirte, I did not spend our national treasury foolishly, and like Salah-al-Deen, our great Muslim leader, who rescued Jerusalem for Islam, I took little for myself...

In the West, some have called me "mad", "crazy", but they know the truth yet continue to lie, they know that our land is independent and free, not in the colonial grip, that my vision, my path, is, and has been clear and for my people and that I will fight to my last breath to keep us free, may Allah almighty help us to remain faithful and free.

-- Mu'ummar Qaddafi.

Africa Must Unite

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Don't Tell Me

Don’t tell me about democracy
When all it defends is exploitation
When it defends subordination by money
For how many peasants succeed in it?
For how many workers lead within it?

Don’t tell me about equality
When lip service is all you give it
When all you do is select an individual
When will all of us be selected?
When will we share in the results of our sweat?

Don’t tell me about human rights
When I live and sleep without food
When I live and sleep in the shackles without proper clothes
What rights do I enjoy on an empty stomach?
What rights can I enjoy in the single room shackle?

Don’t tell me about freedom
When I cannot afford to study to the limits of my brains
When I cannot afford healthcare to cure my pains
Why should you deny me the freedom to know?
Why should you deny me freedom from sickness?

For I am tired of the Mickey Mouse freedom
I am tired of the talk that is human rights
I am tire of paper equality
I am tired of the bourgeoisie democracy!

Benedict Wachira
4th September 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Nobel Peace Prize and Africans

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the most respected awards in the world today. According to the Nobel Peace Prize website, It is given to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
As a Kenyan, it came as a very pleasant surprise when Prof. Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Peace Prize-A classical case of a hero not being recognized at home, yet she has sacrificed a lot in the fields searching for democratic space and in the fight for human rights. Such is the aura that comes with the prize, that she is now the most famous Kenyan in the world.
As an African, I’ve been curious to know how many Africans have been awarded this prize in the past, especially because the recent African history is a negative history of colonization, neo-colonization and imperialism, which has brought out necessary and positive resistance in the African. In this resistance, societies have risen, and are still rising against the brutes of colonization, neo-colonization, imperialism and other manifestations of capitalism.
As the African societies rebel, certain individuals within the societies are brought forth to the frontlines of these struggles, struggles that at times become bloody, with the intention of putting an end to the further spilling of blood. These individuals become the beacons of hope, they become the symbol of peace, they become the African heroes.
So if for the past 100 years (since the inception of the Nobel Peace Prize) Africa has faced a lot misery, probably the worst misery in the world, then Africa should also produce a lot, and probably the most candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize.

It was in this search that I happened to discuss with a friend of mine about the essence of these awards, the politics of these awards, the missing names in the Nobel Peace prize list (the friend was actually furious that the likes of Fidel Castro- and Julius Nyerere were never given the Prize, in spite of their enormous contributions to peace in the world-Africa) and we also discussed the Lenin peace prize, which, in the then clear bi-polar era, was awarded from the USSR.
On comparing the two awards with respect to the recognition of the African contributions to peace, this is what I sieved from Wikipedia:

Nobel Peace Prize
Lenin Peace Prize
1.       Albert Luthuli-South Africa
Sekou Toure-Guinea
1.      Anwar Sadat-Egypt
Kwame Nkurmah-Ghana
2.      Desmond Tutu-South Africa
Modibo Keita-Mali
3.       Nelson Mandela-South Africa-1993
Peter Ayodele-Nigeria
4.       FW De Klerk-South Africa
Bram Fischer-South Africa
5.       Koffi Anaan -Ghana
Shafie Ahmed El Sheikh-Sudan
6.       Wangari Maathai-Kenya
Hikmat Abu Zayd-Egypt
7.       Mohammed Elbaradei-Egpyt
Jeanne Martin-Cisse-Guinea
Samora Machel-Mozambique
Aghostino Neto-Angola
Abdal Rahman Al Sharqawi-Egypt
Julius Nyerere-Tanzania
Nelson Mandela-South Africa-1990

South Africa dominates the two lists, with Nelson Mandela appearing on both lists.

 Two of the South Africans are white; F.W de Klerk (Nobel Peace Prize) and Bram Fischer (Lenin Peace Prize). While FW de Klerk dedicated the better part of his life discriminating against the Blacks in South Africa and building the apartheid system, Bram Fischer dedicated his life fighting oppression and the Racist Apartheid regime of South Africa, and fighting for the emancipation of the South African workers and peasants. It was the likes of Bram Fischer, Joe Slovo, Ruth First and other whites (mostly members of the South African Communist Party) who saved South Africa from the blanket classification of the whites with apartheid and fascism.

Here is Mandela’s speech on receiving the Lenin Peace Prize award 12 years later:

“It is a rare occasion to finally be able to accept an award that had been made long ago under circumstances and from institutions that have since changed quite radically.
We are deeply moved by this occasion where we can at last receive in person the Lenin Prize.
Much has changed in the world since that award was given to us, but the world's need for the human solidarity, which that generous gesture demonstrated, remains as much as ever. It is in that spirit that we receive this award and that it honours us so much to accept it.
It reminds us again of the international dimension of our struggle against apartheid. Like few other liberation struggles ours enjoyed the support if virtually all political persuasions in all parts of the world. The world's abhorrence at the indignity and inhumanity of racial oppression was such that it identified with our struggle as one of all humankind.
Within that international support for our struggle the Soviet Union and other socialist countries stood out. The governments and peoples of the socialist bloc gave material, moral and political support to our struggle in a manner and on a scale that we will never be able to repay.
The world has changed since then and the Soviet Union and the other then existing socialist states of Eastern Europe have disappeared. It is not for us to lament developments that the people of those countries wished for and welcomed. Neither is it for us, however, to deny the value of the support we received from those countries or to mask the immense appreciation we had for those countries.
That we receive the Lenin Prize in such radically changed circumstances may in fact be symbolic of the revolutionary spirit in which it was intended. It may very well inspire us in the spirit of Lenin to radically adapt our methods to the changed circumstances and to seek what is best for the masses of the people rather than holding desperately to preconceived receipes.
As we remember the support from the Soviet Union and the socialist states, it is fitting that we also pay tribute to our historic partnership with the South African Communist Party.
We remember how South African communists came to the material support of the ANC at a time when the police were raiding our offices almost on a daily basis, depleting us of our resources to pay our full-time officials. We can never forget those concrete acts of solidarity.
The SACP has been trustworthy and dependable allies over decades as part of our movement in all its formations. Our relationship with the Soviet Union and the socialist world had much to do with their presence in our ranks.
As we receive the Lenin Prize today we do so in celebration of human solidarity. In a world where the poor seem to be getting poorer and the divide between the have's and have-not's is widening, we need global commitment to the value of human solidarity.
The methods and approaches to achieve a more equitable world might have changed. The problems of gross inequality and of poverty remain. Let us all recommit ourselves to building a world where there will be a better life for all.
I thank you for the honour of awarding me a prize in the name of a revolutionary that history will never be able to forget.
I thank you.”

It is interesting that Hikmat Abu Zayd(Lenin Peace Prize,1970) was forced into exile by Anwar Sadat (Nobel Peace Prize, 1978).
Anwar Sadat was assassinated because of signing a treaty with Israel.

Julius Nyerere, who contributed immensely (and at a great risk) to the freedom of the South African countries, and who later became a pivotal peace facilitator in the great lakes region was recognized and awarded the Lenin Peace Price in 1986. Fidel Castro was also awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1961.
As for the African abroad, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Ralph Bunche, Martin Luther King and Barrack Obama. The Lenin Peace Prize has WEB Du Bois, Paul Robenson and Nicolas Guillen.
It is important to note here that the Lenin Peace Prize wound up with the fall of the USSR, and the last award was Mandela’s in 1990. As at 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to three Africans only, while the Lenin Peace Prize had been awarded to 12 Africans.

Barrack Obama was awarded the prize in 2009, for reasons which even he himself could not understand.

From the comparison above, it is clear that the USSR, even in the state of revisionism, was far far much ahead of the Western/Capitalist world, in terms of Respecting the African people and identifying the true African Peace makers.
But we as Africans should come up with our own continental-wide method of recognizing those who contribute the most in liberating our motherland from wars and misery that are brought about by the system that we are living in today, and moreso those who are working to uproot that system and build a new free and truly democratic Africa.

Benedict Wachira
22 July 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Set The Refugees Free

John was a short, dark, sturdy and very bright student in a then below average secondary school in central Kenya. I was a new form two student in that school, and I had one big problem.
Because of my brand new uniform, most of the form four, from three and form one students thought that I was in form one, a ‘mono’ as they used to be insultingly referred to. Being a mono in this school meant being bullied, being intimidated, doing errands for senior students and even being beaten up by those in higher classes...but the bullying was not the problem for me; being a very moody fellow back then, I found myself in several serious (retaliatory) fights, such that by the end of the first week, everyone in the school knew that I was not in form one, and everybody knew better than messing around with me. The big problem was that out of the twelve subjects that we studied, I was several chapters behind in almost half of them, and I had to update my notes and grasp chapters. The CATs were ‘just around the corner,’ and that’s how I met John, the brightest fellow in that class. John, gave me his notes, and occasionally helped me solve some mathematical questions, and that was how we became very close friends. I soon came to learn that John was a Rwandese refugee, who had been in Kenya for over three years, and during our free times I would ask him about the Rwandese genocide, about how he landed in Kenya, and his story was indeed sad, very sad.
He would tell me about how they narrowly escaped death in Rwanda, just to settle in an equally dangerous region on the shores of Lake Kivu. He would tell me of how, on several occasions, members of his family would  go missing, he narrated the story of how they (together with other refugees) came to Kenya through Uganda, and the tribulations that they faced as they tried to settle in Nairobi’s Kayole estate (this is where most of the Rwandese refugees in Nairobi settled). He would specifically tell and re-tell a story of how his Primary School English teacher would call him a stone, and would tell the other pupils not to behave like the stone, reason being that he could neither write, communicate nor understand English, which was/is the language of instruction in Kenyan Schools. But he was fluent in Kinyarwanda, French, and could speak some Kiswahili. But in less than two years, he had mastered English and Kiswahili, and went ahead to score high marks in his KCPE examinations.
One year after i joined that school, he was suspended, for refusing to be canned, for a wrong that he had not committed (just a few weeks before the incident, the government had banned corporal punishment in schools.) That was the last time I saw him. Over the next holidays I visited their house, where I found his sisters who told me that John had relocated to Zambia.

Refugees Camps in Kenya
John considered himself lucky not to have lived in the refugee camps. The refugee camps in Kenya are situated (somehow by default) in some of the driest and hottest regions of this country. These regions are inhabited by poisonous snakes, scorpions, spiders, lots of mosquitoes, etc.
Since it is assumed that a refugee situation is a temporary one, refugees are accommodated in tents and other makeshift structures, receive unpredictable food rations, and almost every other thing, including security in the camps is of temporary nature, therefore many crimes, including rape and defilement are reported. The quality and conditions of healthcare and education would make those in the slums of Nairobi admirable. So in as much as these refugees escape death in their countries, what they get in these camps is survival, not life.
Receiving the refugee status itself is also a long process that might take many months to acquire from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and getting necessary documents from the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) takes a long period too. These long durations make it inconceivable for refugees to even think of going back to their countries, since going back means losing their refugee status, a move that would make it even more difficult to acquire another status, should the need arise.
In 2007, Kenya passed the refugee act with the intention of streamlining the refugee affairs in the country. But for a country that hosts close to half a million Refugees, with Dadaab refugee camp being the biggest in the world with over 380, 000 refugees, a lot more needs to be done, other than just a fourteen page law that merely outlines the administrative system of dealing with the refugees.
A section of Kakuma Refugee Camp

A School in Dadaab Refugee Camp

A Section of Dadaab Refugee Camp

What Kenya need is a serious, humane, progressive and comprehensive Refugee Policy.
There are many organisations that are doing a great job both in these camps and in the overall handling of the refugees. Organisations such as the UNHCR, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), World Food Program (WFP), CARE, Doctors Without Borders, ICRC, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), NCCK, Selasians of Don Bosco, Refugees International, Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS), the Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK), Windle Trust Kenya and many others continue to alleviate the suffering and preventing deaths in these camps.
But it is not right for Kenya, even in our unfortunate economic conditions, to treat the handling of these African refugees as of secondary priority( if of priority at all), and leave the humanitarian work to NGOs. In as much as many refugees are always grateful of the ‘hosting’ that Kenya gives them, Kenyans and the Kenyan government must come up with methods of handling and hosting these innocent Africans not as some international obligation, but as a natural obligation of Africans and African governments to innocent African victims.

Keeping people in camps even for one year, let alone 20-something years is un-human, un-African, and extremely wasteful. A population of over 300, 000 people would be of more use in the economy and in nation building, than being kept in some desert camps. How does Kenya benefit in Keeping these Africans idle? Some backward people argue that our population is too big and our resources are too little. But this not true. Most African countries are under populated, and furthermore, we need more of the most important resource; The human resource. ..and even if the conditions in the Camps were to be comfortable, integrating the refugees into the general Kenyan society would be more human and would make more economic sense than the ‘hosting’ that our government gives to these refugees.

Class nature of Refugees
What is perhaps the most disheartening fact is the class nature of the refugees.
Most of those living in the refugee camps are people who were Workers and Peasants in their own countries. The refugee camps are filled with poor people’s children who were supposed to be schooling. Most of these refugees carry along with them cheap old clothes, Sufurias and occasionally a hen or two: All which are possessions of the poor and oppressed.
In all these cases, the wars that these refugees run from are political. Political wars that are instigated and propagated by the oppressing elite. In all these cases, those who flee into these camps are the innocent poor. In our Post Elections Violence of 2007, we saw how innocent people died because of politics, which they probably did not understand. A minority took up crude arms, the majority hoped for peace, while the political elites fanned the fire so as to get/retain power. The same happened in Somalia 20 years ago. The workers and peasants who were lucky were able to reach the refugee camps, the majority could not escape and hence either died or fell into the control of the armed and organised militias.
On the other hand, during these Politically instigated wars, the elite class always manage to get asylums in Europe, the U.S and in other African capitals. The few that remain behind have enough money to buy respect, and control the militias. Today,most of the Somali and Sudanese elites own houses in the most expensive neighbourhoods in Nairobi. Their children cruise in Range Rovers and BMWs. Their kids attend the most expensive private schools, attend expensive Private Universities, or study in big European Universities. other rich refugees live in upper middle class estates. Eastleigh estate is now owned by the rich Somali refugees. Thanks to them (and lack of government control), the property prices in Eastleigh is now unaffordable for most locals (including local Somalis), since the Rich Somali 'refugees' offer up to 10 times the value(and usually pay in cash). It is the same case for the rich Sudanese, Rwandese, Congolese, Ethiopian, Eritrean and Burundian refugees. They receive annual stipend that comes in thousands of dollars, while the peasants and the poor workers are either dying in their country, suffering in the refugee camps, or are trying to make ends meet in the streets of Nairobi.
Conscious Kenyans, most of whom criticize these borders that were imposed on us by the colonialists, should make it a habit to speak up against the further oppression of these oppressed Africans.

Internal security, a lame excuse
It is claimed, that in the current era of global terrorism, (just as we saw recently in Libya and Ivory Coast by the ‘international community’?)and the recent bombings in Uganda and Kenya by some Somali terrorists, the terror threats from Al Qaeda/El Shabaab, and the problem of smuggling small arms into the country are the main reasons that make Kenya not to allow for the integration of the refugees into the larger society. That they are a security threat. This is a very backward and very lame excuse. Rather than wholesomely keeping all the poor refugees in the camps, the government should strengthen its security system so as to arrest the specific culprits. condemning half a million innocent people because of a few criminals doesn't make sense.
 For instance, can the government deny people in Kayole their rights, just because a few Mungiki fellows living there are extorting, killing and terrorizing other residents in Nairobi? Can the government restrict movements in Dandora, just because some carjackers, robbers and killers have made it their safe haven?

The camps are necessary
But again, for the sake of planning, order, transit and orientation, refugee camps could be necessary. There are times when the reasons for seeking asylum last just for a few weeks. There are times when we have huge influxes of refugees, and special holding grounds are needed for them, but these holding grounds must be humane, should be comfortable. The camps should act as holding and transit areas.
Now that recent history has shown us that refugee situations might be more than temporary, these holding grounds should be used to orientate the refugees into the Kenyan society’s way of life. Things like Basic Kiswahili, what to carry where and when, the security situation in the Kenyan streets, where to get help if in need, and even simple things like how to cross the Kenyan roads...

Refugees-Locals Tensions
This orientation would help prevent unnecessary tensions caused by small misunderstandings, cultural differences and certain attitudes. These differences tend to create animosity which is usually not there. Kenyans love and respect visitors, including the refugees, even more than they respect themselves. Kenyans are very welcoming and accommodating. It is easier for a typical Kenyan street mugger to forcefully steal from another Kenyan, that they would from a Sudanese, Somali, Eritrean or an Ethiopian (interestingly, the physical characteristics of these four peoples are quite distinct,)
But tensions, especially class tensions continue to exist, and are unfortunately blamed on a whole people. When the Rwandese refugees began arriving in the late 90s, it was reported in the dailies that some of the rich Rwandese would  get into the front seat of a Matatu, and pay double fare so that they could sit alone. Some time ago, I attended a demonstration in Eastleigh(which has many Kenyan and Somalian Somalis) which was organised by women who wash clothes for some very little pay(commonly known as mama dobi, or mama nguo) most of who live in the neighbouring Mathare slums. These women were demonstrating against the mistreatment that they face from their bosses who are Somalis. Some of them spoke of how they would be raped after washing the clothes, others would tell of very grotesque stories of how they are forced to clean dead bodies, others complained of being denied even the meager wages that they’ve worked for, among many other sad stories. Such stories tend to be generalized on a whole people, thus creating tensions.
Other tensions come about when the refugees in Nairobi segregate themselves from the rest of the Kenyan society. They even do not bother to learn Kiswahili, the language of the common man. At times, cultural/religious issues also breeds tensions, for example, dating/marrying Somali, Sudanese and Ethiopian women is discouraged, if not completely forbidden (especially by their men)yet the Somali men, Sudanese men and the Ethiopian men can date and marry Kenyan women. These petty cultural/religious issues breed quiet tensions.
of exception is the Congolese refugees. Most refugees from Congo interact with Kenyans in a smoothest manner. In as much as the dress distinctively, and in as much as they speak Congolese Swahili, they still mix easily with Kenyans, and they do not have any extreme potentially conflicting cultural-social-religious issues.

‘legalising’ refugees and putting up Strong labour laws
The class nature of the refugees is very evident even among the urban refugees. Whereas the rich urban refugees display their excesses and negative attitudes that are characteristic of their class, the poor refugees who somehow find their way to the city encounter double oppression, the ordinary oppression because there are poor, and further oppression because they are in the cities/towns illegally. Because they have to survive, they tend to take up jobs on extremely low wages, mostly as house helps and menial workers, where their employers take advantage of their illegal nature to exploit them as they wish (they cannot run away, they cannot report their cases to the police for fear of arrest,,,their future is very uncertain). Some (women) get into prostitution, where they still have to work under local prostitution kings and queens, for protection and marketing.
The police also take advantage of their illegality to extort money from them.
To prevent all this, the camp idea as earlier said should be scrapped off, and the refugees should be absorbed into the economy. This will automatically deal with the idea of illegality, which will further boost their sense of security and confidence. Strict national labour laws should be enacted, setting minimum wages, salary scales and working conditions in all fields so that space for extra-exploitation of the refugees is reduced.

Kenyans, Kenya and the African Union
In the meantime, volunteerism should be encouraged and promoted among the ordinary and qualified Kenyans, so that they may assist in these refugee camps, as the government of Kenya works towards becoming more serious, humane and logical in handling the whole refugee issue, by working towards setting them free. It was great news when a few years ago Tanzania Naturalized over 160, 000 refugees (..In as much as they had been refugees since 1972, this was still a very very positive move)
Currently, there are no structures that can facilitate free volunteer-ship in these camps. A visit to the websites of the few NGO’s that work in these camps shows that these NGO’s are more interested in monetary donations: Volunteer-ship is not in their priority list. Since our government treats the refugees not as Africans, but as foreigners, and all the management, save for the processing of papers, Is left to the UNHCR and the NGO’s, let alone coming up with volunteering structures.
The African governments and the AU must come up with real solutions to the problems in places like Somalia and the other unstable regions. They must also come up with methods of preventing such situations from occurring, and when they occur, they should be nipped them in the bud. (Of course, the ultimate solution is Africa Unity under Socialism)
Today, high tensions have been building up in Burundi since their national elections last year, where the ruling CNDD-FDD party’s candidate went in unopposed after all the opposition parties in this fragile country boycotted the elections due to massive pre-elections irregularities. As history has shown, what happens in Burundi tends to flow over to Rwanda, and vice-versa.
Things in Rwanda are seemingly quiet, but trouble is also brewing from within. Dictatorships have never lasted forever, and the people of Rwanda might soon rise up against the oppressive regime, a situation that might create another Rwandese refugee situation.
Tensions have also been building up in Sudan, over the Abyei, Kordofan and other new border regions. Our regional governmental bodies should come up with ways of dealing with these issues before they blow up into a never ending crisis like we have seen in the past.
This year, I received a friend request on facebook. The friend request was from a guy who called himself an old friend of mine.……this old friend was John, and this was nine years since I last heard from him! He’s now married and settled in the United States.

Benedict Wachira
14th July 2011