Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our Visits to Upcountry Back in the Days....and why we need to sue some people.

The little rascals are all over, they’ve descended like an undisciplined army. Everything has all of a sudden become fragile, delicate or at risk of being destroyed. They just seem not to care, their energy is endless, and they are full of laughter and screams as they go about their rampage.
I tried to resist them, but eventually gave in to their terror. So instead of telling them not to touch anything, I just kept everything away. As for the screaming, the running all over and the laughing (by the way I seem to always miss the joke..), I chose to ignore, and instead kept aside the work that I was finishing up, and joined the other adults in doing some errands and drinking some Muratina.
The festive season is here, and people are visiting their folks, their relatives, others have gone down to the coast, and many others have travelled upcountry (except those guys who are stranded at Country Bus station because the fares have been doubled...I don’t know how long it will take them to learn that the PSVs always do that during this period)
So these nieces and nephews of mine have also been taken to visit their Shosho (who happens to be my mother) for their Christmas holidays, which then technically means that they have gone to Ocha.
Watching them arrive with small backpacks, and watching DvDs all evening made me reminisce our visits to our Grandmothers back then. Those days, our uncles didn’t have any phones that needed to be unlocked so that we guys could play games (yah, they have downloaded a million games on my should have seen my evil smile when i unlocked my phone for them, knowing very well that it didn’t have any games in it, thinking that they would return it disappointedly!)
Back in the day, a visit to Ocha began with my mother packing two huge bags which our clothes and some shopping that included things like Unga ya Chapati, our soaps, our toothpaste etc(we did not need to pack our toothbrushes, there were some which were permanently stationed at both our grandmothers’—though they had to be boiled in water before we used them)
My brother and I would then carry one of the bags, while my mother carried the other one and an umbrella (I think that either Umbrellas used to be very expensive those days, or this particular umbrella used to be very special for my mum. This is because there are several occasions where she forgot it in those Upcountry Matatus, and somehow it had to be look for and be returned to her). Our sister used to walk behind us.

Four sections of the Safari
The Safari had four sections. Section one was taking a KBS bus to town. This was the easiest part. The second section involved taking a Nissan Matatu from town to some town nearest to the Grandmother that we were visiting first.(our visits used to be divided into two, a visit to my mother’s mother and another to my father’s mother, the stay used to be for 3-4 weeks, not this 2-4 day visit that I saw the other day). This second section had its own characteristics. First, there were these fellows who would sit in the Matatu is as if they are travellers, but leave one by one as the real travellers get in. Secondly, there were these hawkers who’d shove the handkerchiefs, sweets (Tropicals,Patcos,Orbits,Big Gs) and biscuits that they were selling at our faces, asking us (the kids) to pick one, then ask for the money from my mother (along the years, we stopped taking the sweets since we knew very well that the hawker would be tongue-lashed by my mother for asking her to pay for the sweets and we’d be told to give them back).The only luck we had was the fact that I used to vomit when travelling in KBS’s, or for long journeys,,,so we would get a tropical sweet or two, to counter the vomiting.(by the way my throwing up always had a domino effect on other travellers, so it was wise to just buy the sweets). The third characteristic was a preacher man praying for “journey mercies,” and ask for tithe, and the last characteristic was someone always holding the Matatu back when it was ready to go, by either wanting to go and pee, or waiting for some change due to last minute buying(yet the hawkers were hovering around all that time!).
The third section was the worst. It mostly involved getting into a tired “face me” pickup Matatu. Here, the bags would be thrown onto the carriers, and we would get into the Matatu thing, where my mother would sit and carry my sister on her laps and we would stand, since sitting on the wooden benches was for adults. Passengers would then begin filling in, and we would be thoroughly squeezed in between people’s armpits, thighs and buttocks. Every time this “Face me” stopped, I would hope that we had arrived only for mother to say “Baaado” in a manner that suggested I should just get used to the squeezing.
You can imagine us holding up somewhere in there!
Photo from
The fourth and the last section was us leaving our bags at one of the shops at the shopping centre, and walking for some distance so as to reach my Shosho’s homestead, our older cousins (on my Father’s Mother side) would then go pick the bags. But things were a bit different on our Mother’s Mother side, since the Matatu would drop downhill the tarmac road, cruise past the valley where we were supposed to alight, use the momentum climb the next hill and drop us at the top of that hill. We would then walk back to the valley with our bags, then climb another long hill off the tarmac road. There were no shops here, so we had to carry the bags up to our Shosho’s home. The other option was to alight at the hill before the valley, and walk down to the valley, then climb the hill off the tarmac road. (Today, Matatus drop people off at that very valley. I think the PSV’s those days used to have very weak engines. Or maybe they used to carry too many people. Or maybe it was just because of the habit of those drivers of switching off the vehicle’s engines when going downhill so as to use the momentum to save fuel on the uphill. Whatever was the case, those people should posthumously know that i did not like being dropped off two kilometres from where i was supposed to be alight.)
The return trip used to be much better, since it never had “face me” Matatu section. It would always be replaced by an exciting lift on the back of a pickup. These lifts used to be from people known to our family, and strangers alike. You just waved at any vehicle coming your way. At times, we could get a relative going back to Nairobi, and we would hike a free ride all the way (with my mother insisting on adding something for the fuel)
**It is only in order that at this point I request the guy who adds charcoal to the fire in hell to reduce the fire for John Michuki when he arrives there. They guy could have been a home guard, land grabber and all that, but what he did for the public transport sector was exceptional...a revolution in that sector. I sometimes wonder how people used to be productive at work after being packed like potato bags in PSVs. We now even have internet in public transport!

Life in the Village
On arrival to the homestead, we would immediately change into some shorts and t-shirts, drop the shoes and walk barefoot, and begin playing around with my cousins (in my Father’s Mother homestead) or begin climbing fruit trees(on my Mother’s Mother Shamba, she still has so many fruit trees). I never liked the idea of walking barefoot since it was always uncomfortable for the first few days, but we had to do it, maybe to fit in. Back then, children in our rural areas were not allowed to go even to school with shoes. Not that they didn’t have them, they actually wore shoes to church, but just because of some colonial mentality in the schooling system. So kids would outgrow their shoes, leaving the shoes still in very new condition, to be passed down to the younger kids.
Whoever did away with that no-shoes-to-school rule should also receive some preferential treatment if he lands in Jehanam, or get the whitest cloak from the angels if he goes to heaven. If he believes in reincarnation, he should then come back as a Mara River Crocodile.(those things just spend the whole day swimming, basking in the sun, mating, and I hear that they can go for months without eating, just waiting for the annual wildebeests’ migration!)

Back in the village, we would spend the days cutting Napier grass for the cows, picking coffee(Tea needed some skills, so it was picked by the adults), taking the Coffee to the factory, splitting firewood(i used to be spared this job, the axe never landed at the same place twice), sometimes we would take the cows to the cattle dip, the milk to the KCC collection point, being sent to the far away shops to buy cigarettes(despite the distance, i used to like this since we would always buy sweets with the change), spend the rest of the day racing, climbing trees, stealing fruits from neighbours' trees, throwing stones(most of the times at birds), weighing ourselves after weighing the coffee, visiting neighbour’s homes, visiting other relatives (some whose connection i have up to date not grasped, since the explanation always began with something like “so and so’s mother’s father had two wives, one of the children of his other wife got married to so and so, who was related to our grandfather through.....; but we were nevertheless very close to those relatives). If it was Christmas day, we would go to the shopping centre to solicit for “Christmas” from our older relatives who came back from Nairobi.
The evenings would be spend around the fire (mostly smoke) in Shosho’s kitchen, with her cooking on the three stones, and us constantly blowing the fire to reduce the smoke. Looking back, i now pity the goats that used to live at a corner in the Kitchen. They must have suffered a lot from the smoke. I don’t know why the goats used to live in the kitchen though. Maybe it was to serve as a constant reminder to the cook that we should not go for very long without some meat protein.
Both my Shoshos were never the story telling type, so we just told each other stories, pushing each other on the wooden seats....
The only similarity that I can draw between my Shosho’s visit back then, and the Shosho’s visit that i saw from my nephews and nieces, is the giggles, accusations and counter accusations that were brought about by some loud fart from anonymous. But even in this similarity there was still a difference. Today, these kids leave the matter unresolved. Back in our day, if the suspect denied responsibility, then the smoke from the cooking fire would follow the offender and hence settle the matter. If this did not still solve the matter, a song would be sung by the least suspected person, and s/he would, with every word, point at the next person, and whoever is pointed last is the guilty one. It went something like;
Nuu wathuria,(who’s farted?)
Ni gitarariki,(It’s a python)
Kiauma mutitu,(coming from the forest)
Kwenja marima(to dig holes)
Maguthika nyina(to bury its mother).....etc etc,,.

At the end of it all, Shosho or one of the mothers present would serve the food and we would go to sleep, with our cousins leading the way, since we could not see in the night, but they could. (They could even see the Red Ants tracks).
The food was always too much, that the only meal that i used to finish was a special one, made for me only, which was a mixture of either white rice with milk, or Ugali and milk. One of my aunt’s still makes fun at me about how i used to demand for that mixture.

Back into the future
Now that i had decide to “let myself go” even with the serious happenings in the Central African Republic (C.A.R) and South Sudan, i decided to get to know these little relatives of mine a little better.
So i called them around, and asked for any volunteer to tell us a story......none came forward, so i decided to do it myself.
I began with one Gikuyu folklore, then, due to public demand, told them another Dawida folklore that i had once heard from my friend Mwandawiro Mghanga (who has a huge collection of these folklores!). The demand for these stories soared, and that’s when i realised that i had landed myself into a new problem: They would not stop nagging me for another story, yet i could not remember any other!
 As i tried to remember some other folklore, i also flexed my new found power, by demanding that they, from now on, add the title Uncle before my name, and i was immediately obeyed.
After some time, i remembered some famous story from my childhood days, and i decided to tell it to them, only if they agreed to go sleep immediately the story ended, and we had a deal.

Guys must have very been idle to come up with such stories
Unlike the traditional oral narratives which have a moral lesson, the story that i told them next had no lesson whatsoever. These stories, unlike the folklores, use real places and events. This is why the guy who created those stories should be sued for the crimes of causing fear to children (i re-told the story under duress, so i am not culpable.)
Given my salt adding skills, plus a few remixes whereby i made myself appear in the story, i could see the kids flowing with me through the suspense and the fear.
Coming to think of it, these stories were usually said by born again people, to scare us into further submitting to God and get saved......and they story tellers really knew how to narrate them!

Below are samples of these stories;
The lady that i sat next to in the bus to Mombasa (it always had to be Mombasa!)

"I got into the bus to Mombasa and sat in the back seat. Next to me sat a middle aged woman wearing a Buibui. We were travelling at night, and in the middle of the travel, in the middle of nowhere, the lady called out at the driver, and told him that he should stop the bus because she had reached. The driver responded by telling her that he could not stop there, since we were in the middle of the National park, and that lions would appear and eat her up.
The woman continued to insist that she wanted to get off the bus since she had reached. The driver also insisted that he would drop her off at the next town centre, since he could not allow the woman to be eaten by lions.
After a few minutes of silence, the driver felt a hand tapping his left shoulder, with the woman telling him to stop the bus. When the driver looked back to see who was tapping his shoulder, he realised that it was the same woman, still seated at the back seat, but had elongated her arm up to the front, where the driver sat and tapped his shoulder!!(Ramayan style!)
At this point, the driver stopped the bus, and as the woman alighted from the bus, she told the driver that she is going to meet her family, since belongs to the lions’ clan."
(In order to make the story sound real, the guy telling it would insist that it is true, since he was seating next to the lady, and s/he saw it all)

The homeless woman at night
So there was this man driving home at night, and he was stopped by an unclothed woman, and he stopped to help her out. She told him that she was lost, and she had been robbed off everything, and she needed somewhere to sleep. So, the good guy decided to help her, and drove to a nearby hotel, where he gave the woman some money to pay for her accommodation, and buy some clothes.
The woman refused and instead said that she wanted to sleep at the man’s home. The man gave it a thought and decided to go with the woman home.
In the middle of the night, the man decided to go to his kitchen, and just when he stepped out of the bed, he saw two legs of a goat, standing next to the bed!! He got scared, and rushed back to his bed, and began to pray quietly.
In the morning, he woke up and found the woman in the kitchen, and the goat legs were not there.
He told the woman what he had seen, and the woman told him that he was lucky that he prayed that whole night. The guy asked the woman how she knew that he had prayed that night, and the woman responded, “we always know”, and left the house.

The Jacket story (this’ the one i told the kids)
It was raining heavily, and this man was standing at a bus stop with a woman (it looks like the woman had to be the Jini) who was feeling very cold because she had dressed lightly. So the man offered the woman his black leather jacket, and the woman gave the man her home address, so that he could go for the jacket the following day.
As agreed, the man went to address the following day, found the house and made a knock. An old woman opened the door, and the guy introduced himself, and asked for the woman that he had helped.
The old lady was shocked, and she told him that the woman he is asking for died ten years ago. The man could not believe it, and the old woman asked that they go to the backyard, so that she could show him her grave.
When they went to the back, the man was shocked to see his Jacket lying on top of the grave! He went and picked it up, and confirmed that it was indeed his jacket.

The girl who causes accidents
There is this very beautiful girl, who if you are driving on the highway, she will appear right in the middle of the road and if you try to avoid hitting her, you will swerve off the road, roll off, and all the occupants will die, except one Pastor who emerges from the wreckage unscratched. If you instead decide to knock her off, the car will still roll and everyone will die, except, again, the Pastor.
When the police arrive at the scene, they’ll find dead bodies with no blood. Kumbe what happens is that the girl transforms herself into a housefly, and drinks off all the blood of her victims!
Only the Pastor sees the girl, people around the place just see a car swerving and rolling.

The Goats of Kongoweya (at least this one has a moral lesson)
There was this truck driver and his Makanga who used to deliver weekly vegetable consignments to Mombasa’s Kongoweya Market, from upcountry.
One day as they were leaving Kongoweya, they saw these three goats, that they kept seeing whenever they delivered the vegetables. These goats seemed to have no owner, and they would eat fruits and vegetables on sale, without the vendors shooing them away.
So the two decided that since the goats had no owners, and since these goats were a big nuisance to the vendors, they would load them into the trucks, and go back with them to upcountry (Bara).
They loaded these goats into the back of the truck, and locked it with the padlocks. As they were heading back, they decided to make a stop at Mutitu Andei so as to eat something and continue with their journey. But as they were coming back to the truck, they heard some noises at the back and decided to have a look. When they opened, they saw that the three goats had turned into three very old women, and they were saying “turudishe kwetu!!
They guys freaked out, turned the car and went straight to Kongoweya, but to their surprise, when they opened the back, they didn't see the women, but the three goats!!

May those in support of suing the people who created these stories say aye!

Happy New Year good people!

Benedict Wachira
29th December 2013


Sunday, December 15, 2013

On The East African Community, and the Coalition of the Willing

During Kenya’s 50th anniversary celebrations of independence from classical colonialism at the Kasarani Stadium, there were three interesting things that happened with relation to the East African Community (EAC) and by extension the Coalition of the Willing (CoW).
First, both Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda addressed the gathering in Kiswahili. For the Wapenzi wa Kiswahili, this was an extremely important step towards promoting Kiswahili as the lingua franca of the region. They could have chosen to speak in English (just like President Uhuru Kenyatta did), and hence reach out to everyone, including the foreign guests, but they did not. This is because their messages were focused at the hearts of the Kenyan masses.
Secondly, President Kikwete spoke very well of Kenya’s economy, he spoke about the tensions within the EAC, and more importantly, he acknowledged the fact that the peoples of Tanzania and Kenya were very close to each other, and that Tanzania was firmly in the EAC.
The third interesting thing was that all the Presidents in the EAC were present, except President Paul Kagame, who instead chose to send his Prime Minister and a few traditional dancers to represent him. President Joseph Kabila was also in attendance. This was interesting because Kagame rarely misses any chance to come to Kenya, and it raised eyebrows given the recent developments in the EAC.

The problems within the EAC (and the CoW)
In the recent past, there have been serious tensions between Tanzania and Rwanda, over the constant interference of DRC’s internal matters by Rwanda. Tanzania took a progressive stand, and together with other SADC forces (including Congolese forces) moved into DRC and kicked the Kigali backed M23 rebels out.
There were also rumours that Kagame wanted to start a civil conflict in Western Tanzania, and this led to the kicking out of Rwandan Nationals living in that region.
The other major tension within the EAC was with the formation of the CoW (Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda), where Tanzania cried foul and even threatened to withdraw from the EAC. In a counter move, Tanzania formed its own coalition with Burundi and the DRC. Economically speaking, this was a great counter, given the immense wealth of the DRC vis-a-vis that of the CoW countries.
Frantic efforts were made by both Kenya and Tanzania to lessen the tensions, with Tanzania’s FM stating that they “had now agreed to work together”, and said something to the effect that they have now learnt that “some people (Kagame and Museveni) wanted to take advantage of Kenya’s young leadership to advance their personal interests in the region.”
What happened after those meetings was even more interesting. It seems that what we were not told about those talks was that Tanzania may have demanded that Paul Kagame does not succeed Museveni as the rotational Chair of the EAC, and Kenya must have agreed to that demand, and so as to save Kagame’s face, Rwanda had to create excuses of Kagame’s “busy schedule next year since it was the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.” This could explain Kagame’s skipping of the Kenya @50 celebrations, and further explains Kikwete’s conciliatory tone at the same event. (this Rwanda-Tanzania tension within the EAC is not new; 14 years ago, it is Tanzania that opposed Rwanda’s membership into the EAC, keeping it in the cold for 10 years)

Tanzania should rescind its backward stand
But even with the progress made in terms of mending fences, Tanzania must revoke its backward stand, if the EAC is to become a reality.
Tanzania’s approach on the EAC has been that of fear and mistrust. They fear that their land will be taken away, their businesspeople will lose to their Kenyan counterparts, they fear that they will lose jobs to the other EAC partners etc,,and they have therefore used  every opportunity to halt/slowdown the integration of the EAC countries. Tanzania seems to be hostile to the idea of Political Unity, and it is instead pushing for slow economic unity first. This is in great contrast to its position in the EAC of 1967-1977 where Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was at the forefront of pushing for Political Unity of the three countries.
Earlier, Mwalimu Nyerere had pushed for the delay of Tanzania’s and Uganda’s independence, so that the three countries could gain their independence on the same date.
 In an interview with Ikaweba Bunting for the New Internationalist Magazine in 1999, Nyerere said: “I respected Jomo (Kenyatta) immensely. It has probably never happened before in history. Two heads of state, Milton Obote [Uganda's leader] and I, went to Jomo and said to him: `let's unite our countries and you be our head of state'. He said no. I think he said no because it would have put him out of his element as a Kikuyu Elder.
That was how much Tanzania supported political Unity, back then.

During the CoW debate, President Kikwete gave an address to the Tanzanian Parliament, where he said that Tanzania was committed to a Political Union, but before that, Tanzania would have to gain economically since according to him, a political union would be baseless without economic gain. He further used the example of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the oldest political union in Africa, to prove just how committed Tanzania is to Political Unity.
These are two things that Kikwete grasps in an upside down manner. First, the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar was Political from the start. If it were to take the economic route first, then Tanganyika would have no basis of forming any union with Zanzibar. The fact the Kiwete used the Tanganyika-Zanzibar example shows that he was deep asleep when Mwalimu Nyerere was teaching us about Unity.
Secondly, economic unity does not bring Political unity, neither is it the basis of Political unity. The tribulations in the European Union have proved that economic union is a risk, if political decisions are made separately.
If economics alone is what brings countries together, then Kenya and Uganda would have been one country by now.
What unites a Garba herder in Moyale and a Kisii peasant in Nyamira is the ‘Kenya Political Union’. In fact, there is very little economic union between that Moyale herder and that Nyamira Peasant. It is because of this Political Union that the Nyamira peasant will be more saddened and angered when the Moyale herder is attacked by militias from Ethiopia, than he would be when the same militia attacks Ethiopian Garba herders in the Ethiopian side of Moyale.
Africa/African Regions should first be united politically, and then the other struggles follow. The EAC should allow its citizens to move, work, live and own property wherever they want within the EAC. The streamlining of language, education, laws, governance systems, transport and communication etc should then follow.

What we have now is aloof
The present EAC arrangement is out of touch with the common Mwananchi. Other than these wrangles, the common Mwananchi is never aware of what goes on at the EAC summit meetings, Council meetings, EALA sittings, EACJ rulings etc.
Even Richard Sezibera, the EAC Secretary General is a little known individual outside Rwanda. (Maybe in the short term, the EAC treaty should be amended to change the way the Secretary General is appointed, and give more power to that office. It would be better if the Secretary General went through some form of elections while maintaining the country rotations, rather than present system of presidential appointments.)
Today, the EAC matters belong to Governments, big business, foreign interests, and interested citizens, in that order.
The progressive Common Markets Protocol signed three years ago is deliberately being sabotaged; Good on paper, non-existent on the ground.
Some quarters blame the media for the black out, but each of these member countries have their own state owned media outlets.

Unity will still be achieved in the whole of Africa, not just in the EAC
Some of our leaders think that they can divide the people just because they are in power, but there is more that unites the African people, than the imaginary lines and ideas that are used to divide them. In the long term, African integration is inevitable.
Even here in East Africa, countries have in the past gone to war against each other, borders have been closed, stereotypes have been promoted, but still the integration talk has refused to leave. The Maasais, the Kurias, the Tesos, the Taitas and many other peoples along the borders still visit/receive their relatives and friends without giving any considerations to the colonial borders and the existing restrictions. Kenyan Youths will continue occupying Dar es Salaam for their holidays, Kenyan students are a permanent feature in Ugandan colleges, Chaga traders run Gikomba clothes market, Ugandan workers are running South Sudan, Tanzanian musicians are household names in Kenya, East Africa Radio and TV have followers throughout the region and Kiswahili is growing in the region, uniting the People.
Panafricanists should continue to intensify their work towards African Unity and integration, including regional Unity and Integration.

But even as the integration of the EAC continues, serious efforts should be made to change that thing that they call East Africa Community National Anthem. First, the tune is so boring that it sounds unAfrican, and the lyrics are uninspiring. Who approved that thing?

There were many other interesting things that happened during the #KenyaAt50 celebrations, and one of them was the Presence of President Mohamed Abdelaziz of Western Sahara.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has been getting it very wrong on internal matters, but when it comes to external affairs, he has been on the very correct path.
 Kenya is set to host a PLO embassy; The embassy of Western Sahara will be reopened soon; Kenya will open embassies in Cuba, Algeria, Ghana, Angola and Djibouti; Visas for Africans will be processed at the point of entry (though he should get rid of the term” based on reciprocity”), Kenya will contribute thousands of troops to the yet to be formed African stand-by Brigade, Kenya has managed to mobilise Africans against the West’s imperial interests............we are truly living in interesting times.
President Mohamed Abdelaziz of Western Sahara with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya
at the Kenya @50 Celebrations in Nairobi Kenya

Benedict Wachira
15th December 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Africans should not search for Justice at The International Criminal Court, Solutions must come from within.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has now become a permanent news item in Kenya, and a major issue across all of Africa.
Ever since Kofi Anan and the Chair of the commission investigating the Post Elections Violence Justice Phillip Waki introduced the possibility of the masterminds of the Post Elections Violence (PEV) being tried by the ICC, the Court has indeed become a player in the local Kenyan politics.
I have written on this blog before, and the fact remains that the ICC is an imperialist court. Some members of Parliament, the President, his Deputy and some African heads of state seem to have come to this realization just a year or a few months ago.

It is true that this court targets and is pleased to try Africans, right from the African Presidents to small time rebels. This is despite the fact that other than the Democratic Republic of Congo, the worst war crimes in the recent years have taken place outside of Africa.

It is also not just any other criminal African President/rebel that the ICC targets. Some can actually survive their dragnet if they have good relations with the western powers. In Libya for instance, armed rebels toppled and murdered Muammar Gaddafi with the support of the imperialist countries. In the process, they killed thousands of dark skinned Africans Workers who were operating in the different economic sectors in Libya. Today, it is Gaddafi’s son, Saif who is standing trial at the ICC and not the racist Al Qaeda linked rebels. (Nobody is telling us who is currently mining Libya’s oil). In the case of Ivory Coast, a rebel leader, Allasane Ouattara violently ousted President Laurent Gbagbo from power, with direct combat involvement of the French Army. While Ouattara had destabilized the north for many years, causing uncountable deaths and untold suffering to the people of Ivory Coast, it is Laurent Gbagbo who is sitting at the ICC, and not Ouattara. The biggest culprit in the DRC conflict which has claimed over 6 million lives is Rwanda’s Paul kagame, who at this moment a darling of imperialism hence untouchable by the ICC.
These few examples show the imperialist nature of the ICC.

Whenever the ICC debate arises, questions are always asked as to why former U.S president George Bush and the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair have never been tried by the ICC for their international war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives, and the future of several generations destroyed by the acts of these two mortals. Some people misapprehend this question and counter it by arguing that just because killer A was not tried and jailed, then it doesn’t mean that killer B should not be tried and jailed.
They do not understand the essence of this argument. This argument exposes the Imperialist nature of the ICC, since if the International Criminal Court was anchored on justice alone, and not on any other interests, then there should be nothing stopping them from trying and charging George bush and Tony Blair for their international war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some argue that the United States of America has never ratified the ICC treaty hence the George Bush is out of the question. Then why not try Tony Blair? If the ICC cannot try Bush for killing hundreds of thousands because the USA did not ratify the treaty, then why did it accept the referral against Sudan, yet Sudan has also never ratified the treaty?
Indeed, if the ICC was an independent court outside the influence of the imperialist countries, then the United Nations Security council (UNSC) would not have the powers to refer situations (individuals) to the ICC. Worse still, the UNSC would not have the powers to suspend investigations/prosecutions that are already under the ICC.
This conduct and modes of operation of the ICC are just a few examples that expose the political nature of the ICC, its lack of independence, and the fact that it is a tool of imperialism concentrating its eyes on the richest yet most vulnerable continent, Africa.

The Kenyan cases
Kenya, just like many African countries has had its foreign policies not informed by its own internal needs, but informed by external forces and blind followership of their former colonial masters.
In 2005, during the 9th Parliament’s debate on the ratification of the Rome Statute, only MPs Mwandawiro Mghanga (chairperson Social Democratic Party) and Paul Muite (Safina Party leader) debated against the ICC bill. The rest of the MPs, including Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, then KANU opposition MPs supported the bill.

In 2009, Kofi Annan in his capacity as the chief negotiator of the 2008 Peace Deal, gave the government two options; That it either establishes a local tribunal or he refers the Kenyan cases to the ICC. Two (or three if we count Gitobu Imanyara’s bill which still gave the ICC some space) attempts to set up a local tribunal failed. Politicians allied to William Ruto, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta voted down the bill. Raila Odinga supported and campaigned for the bill though a good number of MPs loyal to him voted it down. Uhuru Kenyatta, though he ‘voted’ for the bills, almost all the MPs then loyal to him voted against them. William Ruto openly opposed the bills and campaigned against them saying that we ‘should not be Vague, we should go to the Hague.’ The then President Mwai Kibaki supported the local tribunal option.
By the MPs rejecting the local tribunal option, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta had chosen the ICC option. It is possible that thought that since the ICC would prosecute those with the highest responsibility for the Post Elections Violence (PEV), then Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki were the ones going to the Hague (and possibly the reason as to why they were supporting the local tribunal). This would have resulted in the two of them(Uhuru and Ruto) becoming the top contenders in the elections that followed.
Well, that was not how it happened and the then ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo instead went for the second and lower tires of suspected responsibility for the PEV, with both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto topping the list.
According to Ocampo, the list had more names but he zeroed down to the six who bore the ‘highest responsibility’ (somehow excluding the likes of Najib Balala and including Journalist Joshua Sang!) and the court reduced them further to three (with Sang still hanging in there). Nobody seems to be now bothered about the other suspects on the Waki Commission list, neither are people bothered about the lower echelons of those responsible for the PEV.

Is President Uhuru Kenyatta an Anti-Imperialist and an Anti-Neocolonialist?

The ICC had three major effects in the Kenya’s 2013 national elections. First, it helped consolidate Uhuru’s grip of the largest voting bloc in the country, which is the Kikuyu-Meru-Embu votes. Whereas public opinion especially in Mount Kenya region was Pro-ICC, and remained the same even after Uhuru was named on the list, Ocampo’s arguments during the Pre-trial chamber hearings changed the public opinion in this region and Uhuru Kenyatta’s involvement in the PEV was now seen as that of a savior who led revenge attacks that that played a role in ending the PEV. Uhuru, taking advantage of this development, launch a series of “prayer rallies“ around the Mount Kenya region making sure that he was the De Facto leader in the region.

The second effect of the indictments is that it brought William Ruto (leading the second largest voting bloc) and Uhuru Kenyatta together.

The third result was that the first two developments sealed Raila Odinga’s fate on his quest for Presidency, and the Uhuru-Ruto coalition won the elections with a deciding majority in Parliament.
For some reason, powerful western countries were opposed to the Uhuru-Ruto candidature and even made statements to that regard. They preferred Raila Odinga who had proven to be an envoy of imperialism in Africa as could be seen with his positions on Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Libya. What was difficult to understand was why the Western governments decided to make their bias known to the Kenyan public rather than just support Raila financially from behind the scenes. Their threats only served to strengthen Uhuru-Ruto’s grasp on their supporters.

Then Uhuru Kenyatta threw in a few surprises.
·         He revealed that the greatest person he has ever met was Nelson Mandela, while the person he admired the most and would like to meet was Fidel Castro. Comrade Fidel Castro is undoubtedly the world’s greatest political figure alive, a true revolutionary with a great love for humanity and a man who’s contribution to this world is not rivaled by many……but the shocker was the fact the Uhuru too, with his background, admired him and wanted to meet him!
·         The second surprise was the Pan-African themed swearing-in ceremony held at Kasarani where even the last anthem played was the first verse of Mungu Ibariki Africa.
·         The last surprise was his speech at the AU Special Summit held just over a week ago. It generated a lot of discussion within Africa’s progressive circles. It was so powerful that it is impossible to think that it was written by uhuru Kenyatta or anyone in his inner circles.

But do these and similar developments make Uhuru Kenyatta an anti-imperialist? Do they show that he understand how imperialism works? A look at a few examples paints a different picture.

Uhuru Kenyatta, during his tenure as the finance minister managed to take Kenya back into International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) claws, by borrowing money from them and making many agreements with them.(Kenya had consciously turned its back on it for 8 years.)
Recently, the Uhuru Kenyatta government has signed for more loans (totaling 60 B, I think) from the IMF. The IMF and the World Bank have been used as tools of imperialism and Kenya across all of Africa, and many African countries have never really risen above the damaging effects of the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 80’s and 90’s.
Going by Uhuru’s appointments to his government, he has shown just how much he admires neo-liberalism, since majority of his appointees had IMF and WB backgrounds. No wonder one of the first activities of this government was to introduce VAT tax on basic food stuff, and even books!

The Kenya government and some politicians have said that Kenya now has an independent and reformed Judiciary, thus there is no longer the need for ICC in the Kenyan cases. I personally believe that the Judiciary is slowly reforming, and that we now have some very independent Judges in the Judiciary, but does Uhuru himself, also believe this?
Whereas he has been castigating the ICC as a foreign, neo-colonial and imperialist court, he has never raised a word against the Kenyan citizens that are illegally being detained in the US prison in Guantanamo Bay (possibly the worst prison in the world) and he has never said anything against the torture and detention without trial of Kenyans (terror suspects) in Uganda. There was even a time when the investigative journalist John Allan Namu asked him whether his government would intervene on behalf of the Kenyans being denied justice in foreign lands, and his response was about how Kenya will not allow terrorism etc etc. nothing about Justice for those who like him, are suspects, not confirmed criminals.

The Kenya Parliament voted to withdraw from the Rome statute, and the leaders of majority in both houses gave some good arguments explaining that move. But a candid Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs-Amb. Amina Mohammed, contradicted Parliament’s arguments and confirmed that Uhuru’s government does not care what happens to “the other Kenyan” at The Hague, since that was his “personal matter.” This shows us what Uhuru’s true position on foreign domination is. His message to imperialism could be that “you can do whatever you want to ordinary Kenyans and Kenya in general, as long as you do not touch me…..imperialism to the people, not to the President.”

Since independence, the British Army has continued to use Kenya as one of their most valued training grounds, yet Uhuru, who should be an anti-imperialist/anti-neocolonialist has not even threatened to evict them, even if the threat was just for his own selfish gains.
What come out of these few examples is that Uhuru is not an anti-imperialist, but some reasons, the imperialists are anti-Uhuru.
Clearly, President Uhuru Kenyatta will need a lot of lessons from the man he admires most, if he were to convert himself into a progressive individual.

Why we should support African Union’s onslaught against the ICC

Some confused Pan Africanists and Pseudo-Progressives have chosen to condemn AU’s en masse withdrawal from the ICC and have strongly come into the defense of, and support for the ICC. Some of the more petty ones claim that since the ICC has an African Judge, with an African Prosecutor, with African foot soldiers, then we should support it. (Just like saying that because colonialism had African administrators, then our forefathers should have supported it)

But we need to answer a few questions so as to know where progressives should really stand.

       1.) Is the main reason behind AU’s threat to withdraw from the ICC good? The answer is No.
       2.) Should we then support this main reason? The answer again is No. We should instead condemn the selfish interests that the Presidents have.
       3.) If the AU countries quit the ICC, will that be good or bad? The answer is that that will be very good thing.
       4.) Should we then support AU’s threat and possible withdrawal from the ICC? The answer again is yes.

We must differentiate between the cause, and the effect, what to support and what not to support. Just because one does not support AU’s reason, does not mean that one should then support ICC's domination.

*The positions that different countries took at AU special Summit with relation to withdrawing from the ICC can in fact be used as a yard stick of measuring the level of independence of the different African Presidents.

The question of Peace, Reconciliation and Justice

During the PEV of 2007/8, many lives were lost and the future of many families shattered.
The PEV was based on tribes, and not on any ideology. The campaigns then, just like the campaigns towards the 2013 elections were just tribal contests with each side heightening tribal animosity for their own benefit. There was no progressive ideological basis whatsoever. I do not support unprincipled Peace, but I’d rather we have Peace than have unprincipled violence. (Even Raila Odinga, with all his past, decided to put aside his principals and join in the tribal contest,,,,,,and then came out crying that the elections were rigged or that the Supreme court’s ruling on the tribal contest was unprincipled!)
It is true, that the Kalenjins and the Kikuyus, the two most involved ethnicities in the civilian-on-civillian PEV in 2007/8, campaigned together, voted together and celebrated their victory together in the 2013 elections.
Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, the AUC chair is also correct when she says that in as much as we need justice in Africa, Peace and Reconciliation are of paramount importance in Africa today.
During Ruto’s Pre-Trail chamber hearings, most Kikuyus and most Kalenjins were on opposite sides. Today they are united in supporting Ruto in his Trials. Even the chilling witness recounts that some had predicted would raise emotions have been ignored by a majority by these two ethnicities.
Does this then mean that Peace and reconciliation has been achieved?

Reconciliation between people cannot be achieved when no one has owned up to the crimes that they committed. Some people are still holding on to property that they violently stole during the PEV, others have assumed that nothing ever happened hence no apologies given, some IDPs had to be resettled elsewhere, some of those who butchered others are still walking free……
True reconciliation means people opening up and addressing the underlying issues, it means people facing those that they wronged, apologizing and asking for forgiveness, people returning what they stole, while those who committed heinous crimes being prosecuted and jailed. This should include not only the North Rift region, but all the places where PEV was experienced. This is an exercise that government should lead from the front.
Whatever exists now in the North Rift is temporary Peace, with the Uhuru-Ruto political ties acting as the guarantors.

Will the ICC give Kenyans, the victims and the accused Justice?

The ICC is an imperialist institution. Its decisions will not be based on evidence or truth. Its decisions will be based on the interests of the Western Powers.
That is why as Kenyans we must be very vigilant on the discussions that are going on between our government and Western Powers, and the agreements that might come out of it. If for instance Uhuru Kenyatta’s government agrees to host the US AFRICOM base on Kenyan soil, then their cases at the ICC will “crumble” and the two will be declared not guilty.
If imperialism wants to set an example of the two, then they will be found guilty, irrespective of how weak or strong the prosecution’s case is.

The way forward
Kenyans and Africans should wake up and be masters of their own destiny. We should end this notion that external dependency is the alpha and omega of development and progress. It is foolish to think that the forces that enslaved the African people, destroyed our history, colonialized our past, propped up dictators and assassinated revolutionary African leaders, destroyed our young economies in the name of loans/aid and views us as inferior due to the color of our skins will today become our saviors.
We must struggle and rise up against our own retrogressive systems here in Africa and overthrow the greed, rot, inequality and injustice, replacing it with justice, equality and humanity.

If our justice system does not work, then we should make it work, we should not run to the ICC for bogus fixes. Those Old powers and rising powers did not run elsewhere so as to strengthen their systems, it was the people themselves who rose up through numerous revolts and even revolutions in struggles towards improving their lives.
Africans should not sit pretty and expect solutions from the UNSC and foreign countries.

In the medium term, the AU should strengthen its institutions and show real commitment to ending impunity in Africa. The African Court of Justice and Human Rights should have the mandate to try all crimes beyond a certain magnitude. The idea that Presidents (and the powerful) cannot stand trial must be discarded completely since it is extremely backward and is part of what brings violence and instability in Africa.

Benedict Wachira

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Mo Ibrahim foundation should stop taking us for ride.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) report was released this week, receiving different reactions from different interests.
I would normally not bother with an Index which gives the least priority to Human Development Index (HDI) in its ranking criteria, were it not for the fact that I found that Kenya’s ranking, especially in the areas of personal security and rule of law were completely off when compared to some of the countries ranked higher or closer to Kenya.
I thus had a look at the foundation’s website , and found that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to these rankings. Although the IIAG claims to be the “most comprehensive collection of quantitative data on governance in Africa,” they also should openly declare their ideological leanings rather than leaving it to subtly appear in their rankings.
In fact, I have in the past listened to Mo Ibrahim praising former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano for his role in the liberalization of the Mozambican economy and how this was beneficial to business in that country.

Western Sahara Republic, Sudan and South Sudan not ranked
This year’s report ranked Mauritius number 1/52 with an index of 82.9 points, while it ranked Somalia last (52/52) with 8 points.
No reason was given as to why three African countries, that is Western Sahara, Sudan and South Sudan were not ranked. This raises eyebrows on the legitimacy and independence of these rankings given the politics behind Western Sahara Republic vis-a-vis Morocco, and possible relations between Mo Ibrahim and his country of origin, Sudan(s).
Western Sahara Republic, which is a founder member of the African Union, has since its independence in the 70’s had a lot of tensions with neighboring Kingdom of Morocco, which continues to occupy and colonize parts of Western Sahara to this date. Either, the Mo Ibrahim foundation decided to rank Western Sahara under Morocco, or decided not to rank Western Sahara due to influences from Morocco.
 By the Mo Ibrahim foundation not recognizing Western Sahara in their report, they have not only shown their open bias for the Colonial Kingdom of Morocco against the Saharawi people, but have also shown where the foundation stands when it comes to (in)justice, independence of nations and equality of states. To any self respecting African, this single omission is reason enough to trash the whole report since it is impossible to have respect for anything that is inspired by injustice.
This is further worsened by the fact that overally, Morocco is ranked number 14, while Algeria, which is more advanced in all the criteria used, is ranked at number 25.
The fact that Salim Ahmed Salim, a former long serving Secretary General the O.A.U and a distinguished African is a member of the foundation’s board and chairs its prize committee and is therefore party to this violation of Western Sahara’s independence is extremely disappointing.
When it comes to Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, we are again left to speculate. Given the fact that Mo Ibrahim is a Sudanese born British citizen, it could be that he personally influenced his foundation not to rank the two Sudans for his own personal reasons. The reasons could be that he was so angered by the division of the two Sudans three years ago, that he felt that South Sudan should never be recognized in his institutions; But since this would raise questions, he made a compromise and decided that both the Sudans would not be ranked in the IIAG. This speculation is strengthened by the fact that Sudan has in the past been included in the IIAG reports.
If this is the case, then it is just too unfortunate. Just for the records, I also did not agree with the separation of the two countries, and I hope that they will unite in the future, but bringing personal feelings to a governance index that claims to be “a tool with which to govern, highlighting continental, regional, national and thematic governance results” shows how pedestrian this IIAG is.
Of course, they cannot claim that they had difficulty in accessing information in these three countries since if that was the case, then Somalia would not have been ranked at all. It would also have been more difficult for The Democratic Republic Congo(DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) to find their way into the report if these three countries could not.

A look into the general and specific categories under which the data is classified shows that the IIAG serves as a propaganda and lies tool for Western interests, and the interests of certain specific African countries.

A few examples of the propaganda, biases and lies
Under the “Safety and rule of law” category, we have Mali and Libya being ranked higher than Zimbabwe. In fact, Zimbabwe, with a score of 29.7 ranks just five points above the CAR and the DRC which have scores of 24.9 and 24.5 respectively! How is this even possible?
Under Personal safety (a sub-category of Safety and rule of law), Libya ranks number 43/52 with 29.7, while Zimbabwe is number 48/52 with an index of 18.9! This keeping in mind the developments in Libya since the violent invasion of Libya by the imperialist countries just two years ago!
The lowest score in terms of personal safety is Somalia, which has a score of 0.0. We know that Somalia is not a very safe place to live in, but giving it a score of 0.0 just shows laziness on the side of the person who was doing the ranking.
In the sub-category of Rule of Law, Eritrea scores 3.3 and is number 51/52, while Rwanda scores 48.7 and is number 25/52, just two points below Kenya which has a score of 51.5! This is in a country(Rwanda) where a there are thousands of political prisoners, a country where all opposition Parties that oppose the ruling Party are operating from exile, and where Victoire Ingabire was imprisoned by a Rwandese court in fabricated charges, but for the real reason of posing a winning threat against Paul Kagame’s leadership in the last presidential elections.

In the category of “Participation and Human Rights” Uganda is ranked at 18/52 with 56 points, Kenya is ranked at 23/52 with 50.7 and Rwanda is ranked at 29/52 with 44.6 points. So Uganda, a country where President Museveni violently clamped down Kizza Besigye and anyone who wanted to walk-to-work in opposition to rising fuel prices in Uganda, ranks higher than Kenya? A country where torture is openly used to extract information from suspects and a country where the media is not at all free ranks higher than Kenya in the category of Participation and Human Rights?
Zimbabwe here is ranked at position 45, below Ivory Coast, which is ranked 43 and below Cameroon and Morocco which are ranked position 39 and 40 respectively!
On the sub-category of Rights, Morocco surprisingly ranks at number 24, while Algeria ranks at number 34!
In the sub-category of gender, it is evident that whoever was mandated to do the ranking concentrated on representation in Parliament and chose to ignore all the other indicators. Clear propaganda.

These biases and lies continue in almost all the other categories, where even in the obvious categories like Education, Zimbabwe is ranked a distant 24.
It is clear that Countries like Algeria, Ethiopia and Angola ranked at number 25, 33 and 39 were unfairly ranked lower than they deserve.
These incongruities only confirm that the Mo Ibrahim foundation serves right wing, west-leaning interests in Africa, while veiling their rankings as scientific and impartial under the cover of untrue figures. The lies also confirm that the IIAG should not be used  as “a framework for citizens, governments, institutions and business to assess the delivery of public goods and services, and policy outcomes, across Africa” as they would want it to be used.

Benedict Wachira
16th October 2013


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Westgate Mall Terrorist attack: Could it have been carried out by the CIA? From whom should we learn from? and why IG Kimaiyo should just go

The Westgate Mall terrorist attack was the worst of the continued Terrorist attacks in the country since the birth of Al Shabaab organisation.
What sets terrorism apart from all the other deadly crimes that Kenyans encounter on a daily basis, is the fact that it causes fear, curtails our free movement, its objective is to kill, and it is impossible to negotiate with it.
For instance, in the case of armed robbers, they are interested in their loot, with all the intention of enjoying it later, so if you cooperate with them, they will most likely spare your life (that is why most of the survivors said that they thought it was a ‘normal robbery’). In the case of ethnic clashes, it is easy to prevent, and talks between communities will usually solve matters. If it organized criminal gangs, it just takes the government to deal with them since most of these mafia-like groups operate openly.
Terrorism tends to cause a lot of fear, whether we like it or not. Kenyans will fear(albeit temporary) going to churches when churches become targets, they’ll fear going to clubs when clubs become targets, they’ll fear taking public transport to Eastleigh when they become targets, they’ll fear going to the mosque when mosques become targets, and they will now have a subconscious fear when going into any of the big malls and even supermarkets.

Reforms needed
Now that the blame game has begun, all eyes are rightly focused on National Intelligence Service(NIS), for the failure to unearth the Westgate Mall attack beforehand.
This is not the first time that the NIS has been blamed for laxity, with the highest blame coming in the 2007/8 PEV. Of course, this criticism reduced when during the commission of inquiry on the PEV it became evident that the NIS had the information, and they passed it on to the Police who then failed to act adequately.(I wonder what will happen if the NIS informs us that they had already informed the Police, again)

The question that was however left unanswered after the PEV inquiry was, since it’s clear that the NIS cannot act on what it gathers, what reforms should have then been made? This problem, in my opinion, can be solved by making the Inspector General of National Police Service answerable to the Director General of NIS, in addition to the president.
Nevertheless, the NIS, whatever they tell us this time round, must reorganize its priorities. The NIS is known for doing very good work on spying on politicians and patriots, but not the same work when it comes to prevention of crime.
The best way that I can describe the NIS in terms of its capabilities is that “it can do an excellent job towards preventing the toppling of the President by progressive civilian uprisings like the ones that we see in Tunisia and Egypt, but will do a terrible job in preventing gunmen from shooting the President at a political rally.”

David Kimaiyo should just go
I have always asked for the removal of the IG Kimaiyo, and with good reasons for that matter. We’ve tried to engage the National Police Service Commission to this end without any success.
On comparison, Kimaiyo is the worst of the three Police heads that we’ve had since 2004. Major General Hussein Ali was intelligent, confident and did well in TRYING to reform the Police force (save for the PEV blot). Mathew Iteere did not improve things at the Police Service, he rather maintained what Hussein Ali had began. But David Kimaiyo!! This IG still lives in the Nyayo Era days, and in my opinion, he is far less intelligent than his two predecessors. He seems not to have the slightest understanding of civil rights, it is as if he does not understand that we now have a Police service and not a police force, and he appears more proud when stating that they have arrested 20 prostitutes in Mombasa, than he does when explaining more important security matters. He is also “untouchable” since he gets all the protection he needs from another Nyayo era dictatorship mentality fellow, Francis Kimemia (and his wing man Mutea Iringo).
Actually, two events happened last week, which just shows how incompetent the man is;
        1.       Dealing with Hawkers.
Last week, some ‘activist’ friends of mine were working with a group of Hawkers, and they had organized a demonstration against the Police/Council Askaris constant wars. Then on the day of the Demo, the OCPD central called the activists and told them to call off the Demo, since he had intelligence information that a criminal gang wanted to join in the demo and cause havoc in the City, and he instead offered to organize for a meeting between him, the Governor and the Hawkers later that day. After long deliberations, the activists agreed to the OCPD’s request since this was the first time that he was cancelling a demonstration, but on condition that they would go and address the hawkers together, which they did. The Police intel was accurate, in that even after calling off the demo, a group moved out and went ahead to cause a lot of chaos and destruction in the City.
Two days later, the IG tweeted that he had created a special force of 450, yes, FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY Anti-Hawkers Police squad, drawn from the RP and the AP, to deal with the hawkers. If that is not a joke, then I do not know what is. The questions that we should ask are; Why use 450 Policemen to deal with Hawkers? What is the mandate of these policemen?? If we need 450 Policemen to deal with hawkers, then how many do we need to deal with crime in this country???
As for the talks, it was declared that there would be no negotiations with the Hawkers.

Back to the OCPD central meeting, one question that he could not answer was, if they knew that a criminal gang was planning to interfere with the peaceful demo, why didn’t they just go ahead and arrest them before the demo? In any case, they are criminals, meaning that there are other crimes that they have committed before and they can be arrested for those crimes.

I have had a chance to engage with the hawkers too, and these hawkers have proposed solutions (which are of course temporary, given the unemployment rates in this country..) which include opening up of back streets like the late Karisa Maitha had done 10 years ago, letting them operate on certain streets on certain days, and specific times; re-evaluating those operating at Muthurwa Market, so that anyone with an investment of above, say sh20, 000 may move to proper shops in town since their investment is above that of a hawker and many other good proposals. Why Kimaiyo prefers to use force and not a mixture of talks and if need be, force, is something that is incomprehensible.
The second thing that I have come to learn is that there is a group that charges the hawkers monies between sh50 and sh100 daily as protection fees. This group spies on the City Askaris and alerts the hawkers of their presence. This is the group that also fights out with the Police/Askaris in River road and Ngara, as the hawkers take cover. The group collects a minimum of sh75, 000 daily. I believe that this is the criminal gang that the OCPD was talking about, and if it’s the one, then the Police should be able to deal with them with ease, unless they want the status quo to remain, because I wouldn’t be surprised  to hear that senior policemen get a share of the over sh75, 000.

       2.       How he dealt with the Westgate Mall saga
The second event of last week that confirmed to me that we have the wrong person at the helm of the Police Service was how IG Kimaiyo appeared at Westgate during the siege.
The fellow was fully aware that he was dealing with a terrorist attack/hostage situation, and then he appears at the scene with a helmet and an AK47 leaves behind his officers who are better equipped and wants to single handedly walk into the Mall and kill all the terrorists! And it had to take pleading from his juniors so as to bring him back into sense!! If this is not utmost carelessness, incompetence, a joke or a mixture of the three, then I do not know what is. Up until now, I am still trying to understand his motivation that day, and I zeroed down on four postulations;
      ·  Either he was so angry with the terrorists that he wanted to deal with the matter himself, in direct combat (which epitomizes his incompetence)
      · He has watched too many Commando and Rambo movies and wanted to implement what he had watched (going by his preferred Police Hat, the beret, this could be a high possibility)
      · He was intentionally doing that for the TV and cameras (The fact that he can perform such a show  when hundreds of lives are at risk is a huge disappointment)
      · Or maybe he has emotional-mental problems (which should be taken seriously)
Whichever reason he had, if that is how he is leading the Police Service then I think the man should just go, since in command institutions, the leader really matters. Great commanders lead from the front, but not Kimaiyo style.

Who should Kenya learn from?
The Kenyan media seems to be infatuated with the Israeli and the American forces. Even when the President says that there were no foreign forces involved in the final assault, the media (especially the Nation media) still insisted that these foreign forces were involved. Kenyan government also holds the American and Israeli forces in high regard in relation to military stuff, and even the GSU’s Reece squad trains in Israel.
Not that we should not learn from foreign security forces, on the contrary, we should. However, we should learn from those in similar circumstances first.
If Kenya’s intention is to occupy other people’s lands, practice apartheid and to terrorize innocent people in other countries, then the best teachers will be the Zionists in Israel. If the intention is to dominate other people, kill innocent civilians in countries abroad, topple governments, host and train terrorist groups so that they can cause havoc against perceived enemies etc, then we can best learn from the Americans.
Kenyans cannot allow such colonial-imperialistic habits, nor can Kenya afford such.
Terrorism is not a new thing. If we want to learn how to effectively deal with it, now that we expect more of it, then we should learn from countries like Tunisia, Algeria and such. These two countries have had long experiences in dealing with Islamist terrorists and all their tactics, from suicide bombings, to taking of hostages, hijackings etc …… and here we are talking about 20-30 years experience.
I happened to visit Algeria earlier this year, and I could see the vigilance right from the airport. I interacted with a few Kenyan students on scholarship in Algeria, and they were full of praise of the Algerian Police, how helpful they are, how if you are lost or need anything, they will go to great lengths to help you, and also how firm they are. Nevertheless, what further impressed me was when one of them told me that Algerians “ni wambenye” and if you happen to be new in a neighbourhood, the neighbours will “Snitch” on you to the police. The civilians themselves do not joke with their security. The people are the first line of intelligence.
Then I flew to Tindouf, Southern Algeria, so that we could attend the 40th Anniversary of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front, in the refugee camps (the reason our stay was in the refugee tents was because the Moroccan Kingdom, with the support of France, has been illegally occupying half of Western Sahara Republic since 1975.)
 So when coming back, at the airport at Tindouf, I somehow forgot to remove some things from my pocket, and the Security officer moved his hands all over my body, and began feeling my pocket, and he asked me; “flashdisk?” I said yes. “Keys?” I said yes…then he amazed me when he asked me “lapel pin?” I responded yes….and finally, there was something that he could not decipher, so he asked me “what else?” I said nothing, just that. Then he said “no no, there is something else, please empty your pockets,” and kumbe what he could not decode was the Key holder, which is a metallic Whistle! I then passed through the metallic sensor really impressed.  All this checks were being done despite the fact that I was using the government VIP facilities.
Early this year, Algeria dealt with terrible hostage situation at one of its natural Gas complexes, where 37 multinational hostages were killed, 29 Islamist terrorists killed and 3 arrested alive, at a complex with over 700 workers. The US and other western countries had offered to send their Soldiers, but the Algerian government, which is very critical of the west, turned down the offers and successfully dealt with the situation, keeping in mind that it borders Libya, Mali and Niger.
I think these are the people that we should learn from. Countries where Security forces are well trained can be trusted in matters of Security, and countries where people know that they have a role in their own Security.

HSM Press and My Conspiracy Theory
I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but some questions are leading me to this believe that there is one here.
When the Kenya Defence Forces rolled into Somalia, there was, alongside the war at the front, a ferocious propaganda and lies war on the media and specifically on Twitter, where KDF’s Major Emmanuel Chirchir was battling it out with whoever runs Al Shabaab’s HSM Press. I was following both of them, though I believed more on what KDF’s spokesperson Colonel Cyrus Oguna and Major Chirchir told us.
But all this changed when in September last year, some KDF soldiers were captured at the battle front, and after some days, KDF claimed that they had rescued some. This raised two contentions; firstly, KDF had said that those captured were five, and secondly, that they had rescued two soldiers. Al Shabaab on the other hand claimed that they had captured more, and none had been rescued.
So as to end the argument, Al Shabaab posted photos that killed my appetite for that day. They were photos of bodies of young Kenyan soldiers, some with their KDF ID cards and ATM cards placed on their chests. Kenya responded by condemning the showing of photos of the dead (no longer denying).
From that point on, I begun taking the HSM Press tweets seriously. Eventually, when KDF made the final and impressive amphibious attack and captured Kismayu, I did not fully believe the triumph, until the HSM Press confirmed it. The HSM Press had claimed that they were still holding on, but a few hours later, they admitted that they had been defeated and had closed operations from Kismayu……and the tweets that followed were angry tweets against Somalians who had betrayed them and worked with the “Kuffars”.

What I appreciate about the HSM Press is the fact that their updates are very genuine and honest. For instance, when police stations along the border were attacked or a bar in Nairobi was bombed, they would celebrate the killing of the policemen/civilians, but admit that they were not responsible, and when they were responsible, they did not hesitate to proudly tell us so, and they would also correct themselves when they gave wrong information. Secondly, they give information as it happens, hours before other media stations relay it, eg the attack of the Somali UN complex, the attack of Somalia President Sheikh Mohamud’s armored convoy among many others.
Anybody who was following the Al Shabaab on twitter will agree with me that the person who used to update that handle was extremely intelligent, composed and with a very good command of English. S/he could always fit sensible information within 140 characters.
But just a few weeks before the Westgate Mall attack, the “official” Al Shabaab handle was suspended. This was a strange move, and I couldn’t understand why it was suspended at this time. I remember that at the time of KDF’s incursion in Somalia, there were calls to close down their account, since their propaganda was demoralizing Kenyans, and the US government (without being asked) said that it supported the closure. KDF’s spokespeople however, in a show of confidence, opposed the idea of closing the account, saying that they(Al Shabaab) should be allowed to say whatever they wanted, since whatever they updated did not interfere with the battle on the ground, and in any case, their updates were just lies. The HSM Press therefore continued to operate.
Fast forward: A few days after the closure of this “official” account, another account was opened and closed, and another one opened, with others that were already there running parallel to the original one becoming more active than they were before.
During the Westgate Mall attack, we had the newest HSM Press account throwing in updates after every while. What was clear was that the person updating this new account was not the person who used to update the old account. The present manager of the account is erratic, makes too many grammatical errors and is extremely inconsistent when compared with the “official” updater. The present manager knows the Westgate Mall very well, and s/he can even throw a few Swahili sentences (which means that his message was to Kenyans and not Kenya government.) At some point, it felt as if the guy was updating the account in between sips of beer and w*#king in Nairobi.

The big question is: Why was the ‘official’ Al Shabaab twitter handle suspended in September 2013 when it was very  harmless? Was the US government behind the suspension? Why would they push for its suspension now?

The other thing that leads to the idea that this attack was not an Al Shabaab attack was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reaction to the matter. He kept on insisting that no foreign forces were involved in the main operation, and that even though foreign governments had offered to intervene, only the Kenyan forces under Kimaiyo (and Gen Julius Karangi) would deal with the matter. This insistence for me appeared strange. Unlike the Algerian government which is known for being wary of imperialism and which has a lot pride in itself, the Kenyan Government would ordinarily welcome support from Israeli and American forces in this kind of rescue operation.
Why did Uhuru and his CS vehemently deny the involvement of external forces, even when Mossad and SAS soldiers had been involved in the foremost rescue attempts at the mall? Why didn’t they continue working with them alongside the KDF Special Ops force? What is it that Uhuru Kenyatta knew about the Israeli, British and the US forces that he did not want their continued involvement? Why did CS Amina Mohamed point out that some of the terrorists were US citizens in an interview with Al Jazeera even before the Mall was secured by KDF?

Wikileaks info tells us that the US government was strongly against KDF’s entry into Somalia. We know that what aggravated the situation in Somalia was US support for some militants and Warlords in Somalia, an act that most conflict analysts viewed as sabotage by the US government on the Peace efforts that were being hosted by Kenya. We also know that the US government has been reaping billions in terms of protection fees against piracy off the Somali Coast. We also know of some multi-national companies being in the process of exploring Oil and natural gas in Somalia, in cahoots with a few warlords. Definitely the CIA has made some infiltration into Al Qaeda and its affiliate organisations.
Does Peace in Somalia mean losses for the Empire, and hence the efforts to sabotage the efforts in Somalia?

Some individuals will begin demanding for the withdrawal of Kenyan troops from Somalia, since that is what the new “unofficial” Al Shabaab kept on demanding.
But how will the withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalia ensure Security for Kenyans? If these terrorist began attacking even before KDF’s entry, what will they do with KDF’s exit? What if the terrorist continue with the attacks and demand that Kenya withdraws from the former North Eastern Province, will we withdraw for the sake of Peace? How far back will we go? Kitui? Eastleigh?
I have in an older post on this blog said that the KDF was invited into Somalia by the Somalia government, which was a legitimate government since it was born out of the Islamic Courts Union of Somalia. If the present Somali government says that we should withdraw, then Kenya must withdraw, but such withdrawal should not be because of the terrorist attacks in Kenya, or because of foreign funded NGOs push, or even because the US feels that Kenya should withdraw. As a Pan-Africanist, I know what Peace in Somalia means for Africa and the region.
On the other hand, the KDF should not retaliate and punish Somalians for this terrorist attack, that will be against their objective. They should continue with their operations under AMISOM in collaboration with the Somalian government as they had planned. I am saying this because we have before seen backward generalized retaliation against the population by the Police in Eastleigh, and by the Military in Garissa in reaction to terrorist attacks.

Benedict Wachira
26 September 2013

The MPs should stop this stupid talk of giving watchmen guns. That move will only endanger the lives of innocent Kenyans and that of the guards themselves even when it comes to ordinary crimes like robbery…….and please, they should stop giving examples of Kampala guards…they look so helpless with their funny looking guns.

It is so sad that those terrorists took the lives of so many Kenyans, including that of the brilliant Peter Simani, Chairperson of the Political Parties disputes Tribunal. I remember first, and severally thereafter engaging him in the tribunal when we filed a case against Peter Ndwiga, Mutahi Kagwe, Mutua Katuku and the registrar of political Parties for hijacking our Party, the Social Democratic Party of Kenya. We were then in the Youth League of the Party, and we could not afford legal representation, so we represented ourselves. The other side was represented by well known lawyers, and the three hijackers were all serving in the Mwai Kibaki government. Most people told us that even though the facts were on our side, we would lose the case with costs, since we were going up against powerful Kibaki people. But the tribunal, under the leadership of Peter Simani, Chacha Odera and Jessie Mutura listened to the case, and gave us our rightful victory. He appeared as a man with arrogant intelligence, but very fair when listening to cases. So sad that he, and many other compatriots are gone.