Monday, August 16, 2004

The Reform Agenda is Kaput in Kenya-Tucheze Lele Mama na Ndombolo!

By Onyango Oloo

Prof. Makau wa Mutua wa Buffalo na KHRC

wrote in the Boston Globe yesterday an op-ed DRAMATICALLY announcing the DEATH of reformism in Kenya.

You can read it here

Onyango Oloo is certainly NOT going to drown lui-meme in the St. Laurent, Trois Rivieres or any other sludge filled tributary voie d’eau snaking through this nook or that cranny of this particular smog covered chunk of frenchified North American real estate because of extreme tristesse, desespoir or aneantissement- take that exclusif scoop from moi as in me as opposed to ancien tyran Toroitich.

Yesterday evening, being a Saturday night, I was very much tempted to put on my barely used dancing shoes and head straight to the Safari Club on Peel and the de Maisonneuve here in downtown Montreal.

Yes-I wanted to vigorously ululate and joyously hyperventilate at Montreal’s own Safari Club as I celebrated the GOOD NEWS in that steamy, din filled, buzzing dungeon of good natured, slightly inebriated African musical vice; a veritable, inimitable and indelible babbling Afrocentric sin palace where the gyrating Beninois who are not Wenge or Papa Wemba worshipping les Kinois hobnob with the head bobbing citoyen of Marrakech as the ndombolo specialist-doyennes of haute couture from Addis Ababa, Noukachott, Gaberone, Maputo,Takoradi, Lagos, Khartoum, Hargeisa, Antananarivo, Jinja, Tanga, Mwembe Tayari, Douala and Yaounde PREEN like vain, over praised peahens for the lascivious, amorous, drenched in Italian and French cologne, equally decked out jock strapped cheating cheetahs transplanted from Ndola, Massawa, Tigoni, Jos, Bujumbura,Tripoli,Cape Town,Dakar and Arusha as all the diverse, diasporic offspring of the mother continent collectively regale and revel, immersed happily as one in that one of kind, spicy, exotic, exciting and cathartic sonic potpourri of mbaqanga, rai, benga, chakacha, rumba, reggae, soca, hip hop, samba, merengue, dance hall, high life, bassa nova, kwaito, boogaloo, chimurenga, mtuashi, funk, bhangra, techno, tango, old school house, soukous, mbalax, morna, salsa, bikutsi, arrandbee and afrobeat served sizzling hot by the frenzied unseen curry loving audio-dj chef who was born on the planet Jupiter and arrived on earth as a precocious toddler of the turn tables in extraterrestrial diapers spinning his cornucopia of orgasmic tunes and seismic floor fillers until the clock veers, close, very close to quarter to three of another pre-dawn hang-over Quebec closing time, yet another sated moment concluding yet another session of let’s have a good time, time….

Yes-that was one sentence and it did NOT run away from me.

If you look closely, it is actually a poem, that is NOT laid out in verse.

Just a second.

Did I or didn’t I?

Did I visit that house of musical perdition?

Was I indicted into that dubious hall of audio infamy?

Was I shadow dancing by my lonely lonesome self or did someone else- soft, supple and sensual-stab my long suffering feet repeatedly throughout the night with sharp, feminine shoes before massaging them later, gently, with her soft caressing fingers as I lay horizontally in anticipatory glee?

That is neither here nor there,ama is it now?

Do you know what the letters MYOB stand for?

It is the brand name of an accounting software package aka Mind Your Own Business.

Hint. Hint. Hint.

You are here to read an essay from Oloo, ama ni aje tena msomaji wangu wa kila siku?

If I have an obituary for the freshly expired “Jaduong’ Kenyan Reform Agenda” it is this:

“Dear Dead Political Reject:

“You lived far too long-like Idi Amin Dada after 1979.

“You should have croaked and been dispatched to an unmarked grave seven years ago.

“What kept you going for so long?

“Viagra? Anabolic steroids? Gingko Biloba? Hirizi from Malindi,Super Manyasi from Yala, Gem or whatever mysterious concoction Sheryl Crow slips into Lance Armstrong’s water bottle before the Tour de France commences every year for the last six?

“Ladies and Gentlemen:

“I have come NOT to bury Jaduong Reform Agenda but to KILL HIM AGAIN.

“Dare he not stir or attempt a remote QUIVER in that cheap coffin but forever remain hopefully framed in permanent political rigor mortis.

“This morose Mzee was worse than that jumpy jajuok who was caught in the next village last week- Mzee Reform Agenda was a LIAR and a POLITICAL CON MAN who deluded hundreds of former militant activists in Kenya that real change would come in Kenya through tinkering and tailoring now with the tail of the constitution and now with the elbows of the Katiba..

“Stay dead Jaduong’ Reform Agenda, REMAIN IN YOUR CRYPT or I will personally HACK you to TINY, TINY, TINY pieces with this sharp PANGA that I have hidden underneath this KABUTI as you can see when I expose my belly button to you.

“Members of the Funeral Committee:

“You can STONE ME NOW.

“Na Kwa Haya Machache, Nitakomea Hapo.”

In this essay I want to look at two documents brought out by the organized expression of the liberal democratic reformists-Prof. Makau’s commentary as well as the joint statement issued by several Kenyan civil society groups.

These interventions are fascinating-to dissect that is.

I also want to move beyond reformism to reconnect with familiar REVOLUTIONARY threads, roots and traditions that are already part and parcel of Kenyan history.

Armed with a pair of efficient, razor sharp scissors, let us cut to the chase, heading for Makau’s neck FIRST.

Prof. Makau wa Mutua utters a series of disturbing untruths to his largely East Coast American Liberal audience, anchored with his arrogant death knell on any future social change in Kenya.

What startles me in an academic so young, so steeped in contemporary struggles is his shameless flashing of the Ukabila trump card.

I am particularly OFFENDED,as a Kenyan who comes from the Luo community by his REPEATED ETHNIC SLURS that he mouths behind our backs (as in the now notorious secret letter leaked to the whole world by the ever intrepid “Kipchirchir” who lurks in cyberspace detailed to unleash to the entire world the clandestine correspondence of Kiraitu Murungi); or as in the Boston Globe article that is under digital heavy bombardment presently.

When Professor Makau talks of the “fanatical” Luos, who is he talking about?

Is he referring to Luos like his own colleague Steve Ouma, the Deputy Executive Director of the KHRC?

Is Makau talking of Luos like Odindo Opiata and Rubiik from his days in the University of Nairobi’s “Interim Committee”?

Could Professor Makau wa Mutua be talking about Luos like his fellow Professors Edward Oyugi or Peter Anyang Nyongo?

Is he talking about sedate and conservative Luos like Raphael Tuju and Dalmas Otieno?

When Professor Makau talks of “fanatical” Luos who follow Raila Odinga blindly, is he by chance referring to Luos like his fellow lawyers James Orengo and Miguna Miguna or his fellow civil society luminary Oduor Ong’wen?

When Makau wa Buffalo is talking of “fanatical” Luos who follow Raila blindly could he be referring to Luos who are hardworking ambassadors in the NARC government like Ms. Raychelle Omamo in Paris or Mr. Peter Nicholas Rateng’ Oginga Ogego in Ottawa?

When the KHRC supremo is talking about “fanatical” Luos is he perchance thinking of Shem Ochuodho, the President of the Agwambo Tinga Tinga Fan Club or the late Hezekiah Oyugi who must have organized a few nyama chomas to raise funds for the Kibaki kingmaker?

When Professor Makau wa Mutua is talking of “fanatical” Luos could he be referring to Marxist idiots like Onyango Oloo, underground retards like Omondi K’Abir, militant socialist nincompoops like Okoth Osewe, revolutionary imbeciles like Adongo Ogony or radical activists like Atieno Odenyo?

Is that why Professor Makau wa Mutua hastily and publicly demanded that I should take him off the Kenya Democracy Project mailing list-suspecting perhaps, that Onyango Oloo was one of those “fanatical” Luos who follow Raila Odinga blindly?

Who are these “fanatical” Luos and where can I find them?

I think they would make an amazing study in modern social anthropology.

To think that an ENTIRE ETHNIC GROUP can be so SINGULARLY afflicted with this all encompassing tribal virus called “railamania-2”-a more powerful strain than the “jaramogifever” of an earlier generation is simply mind boggling.

Which makes me ponder the following:

Is Makau himself a fanatical Kao blindly following Kalonzo, Kibwana or Ngilu?
Is Koigi a fanatical Kikuyu blindly following Kibaki?
Is Rai a fanatical Mijikenda blindly following Maitha?
Is Obwocha a fanatical Kisii blindly following Nyachae?
Is Mungatana a fanatical Bantu blindly following the leaders of the anti-Nilotic choir?
Is Khalwale a fanatical Luhyia blindly following Kombo?
Is Michuki a blind GEMA ideologue blinding following the andu aitu fictions of power?

I hope that Professor Makau wa Mutua does not mind Onyango Oloo calling him a fanatical Kamba.

After all, among the Kamba as in the Luo community, we have some dominant political leaders- it should follow IPSO FACTO that ALL KAMBAS follow THESE DOMINANT KAMBA LEADERS BLINDLY ama sivyo?

The man is being a ridiculous TRIBALIST and he should cease and desist from this political NONSENSE.

Let me cool down a bit.

Now let us examine the FACTS.

Is Raila Odinga a member of parliament from the so called Luo Nyanza?

Professor Makau wa Mutua, can you tell me?

Does the population of Langata constituency consist entirely of fanatical Luos who follow Raila Odinga blindly?

Here are some relevant election results:

1992 and 1997 Langata Elections Results

2002 Langata Results

Report on the 1997 Elections

If I am not mistaken, MORE GIKUYUS across the country may have voted FOR Raila Odinga than Koigi, Wangari Mathaai and Munyua Waiyaki combined when Agwambo vied for the Presidency in 1997. At that time, that so called “Luo chieftain” came in third behind Moi and Mwai but ahead of Wamalwa, Ngilu and other “progressive” “non- tribal” “PRO REFORM” candidates running that year.”Visionaries” like John Harun Mwau and Omondi Oludhe for instance…

When you read the following profile of Raila:

do we see an “ethnic demagogue” with “no history of reform”?

Why was Raila detained in September 1988?

I will tell you.

Some of Koigi’s people in the KPF made some mistakes which led the Special Branch to find out that Raila Odinga had traveled to Arusha, Tanzania as a leader of the underground Kenya Revolutionary Movement to meet with Koigi wa Wamwere, the leader of the Kenya Patriotic Front to see how Kenyans underground(like Raila at the time) and in exile (like Koigi and some people we know) could create a national united force to bring down the one party rule of Mtukufu Raisi Daniel arap Moi.

What was Makau wa Mutua doing in September 1988?

As far as I can recall,the Kenya Human Rights Commission had NOT YET been formed- that claim to political legitimacy was to follow a few years down the road.

Who knows, he may have been working in some underground unit.

But which one?

He had drifted from KAIF soon after his departure from Dar es Salaam.

Is it a case of political amnesia or have Kenyans FORGOTTEN that Raila was arrested and detained in 1990 for his association with Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia?

Is it a case of political amnesia of have Kenyans FORGOTTEN that Raila Odinga was among the not so Young Turks of FORD like Gitobu Imanyara, Paul Muite, Kiraitu Murungi, Michael Wamalwa who did the donkey work to launch the original FORD as the MOST POPULAR single opposition force in early 1992?

Where was Professor Makau wa Mutua at the time?

Busy registering the KHRC in the USA, I guess.

Incidentally, it would appear that the year 2002 is already a dim memory because the likes of Makau wa Mutua have forgotten the hundreds of thousands of people that Raila Odinga and others helped mobilize to turf out Moi and KANU.

Why do SANE and INTELLIGENT people like Professor Makau wa Mutua LIE SO OPENLY when they are writing for non-Kenyan audiences?

Is this ethical, honest and principled?

I certainly do not think so.

One person that I admire profoundly and sincerely is Professor Makau’s teacher and mentor, the quiet and unassuming Dr. Willy Mutunga.

Now, Willy and I do not look at each and every issue identically.

But Willy is NOT A POLITICAL LIAR, even when he is harshly criticizing an ideological colleague or adversary.

Contrast what the real Mwalimu said about Raila Odinga to what the tribal minded student is telling his liberal Boston readers. It is from a Sunday Nation op-ed in September 2003 and I quoted from it in the very first dispatch I sent from Nairobi last year. Ironically that piece was uploaded from the KHRC offices-who I may add, are still committed to participate in the publishing and launch of my book-I am the one who is holding up the process by adding new chapter after new chapter….

Anyways here is
the link to the Mutunga piece

Professor Makau wa Mutua I am publicly calling on you to give Willy a call and get some badly needed tips in political humility and HONESTY.

And Prof:

Look for some potent kamuti whether it is in uptown Katse or downtown Mwingi to cure you of that virulent Luophobia.

And remember, in some parts of the country people say wikuma wilika and sometimes they add Nguli syonthe itiania musoani.

The other aspect that I wanted to deal with was this paragraph in Prof. Makau’s opinion piece:

“What has arrested Kenya's renaissance is a tale of perverted personal ambitions, ethnic demagoguery, and a political elite that has yet to internalize liberalism, democracy, and human rights. Political parties are not driven by ideology but the whims of party leaders and their quest for raw power.”

I agree with the last sentence 100%. I do not agree with the logic behind the first sentence.

Contrary to what Makau wa Mutua says, what has arrested Kenya’s renaissance is NOT “perverted personal ambitions, ethnic demagoguery and a political elite that has yet to internalize liberalism, democracy and human rights.”

What has arrested Kenya’s renaissance has been the REFUSAL by some elitist elements to accede to the clearly and popularly expressed democratic mandate to have a constitution. The wranglings within the NARC coalition is indicative of political dishonesty which has reached crescendo and epidemic levels with some ministers even denying outright pledges on the NARC platform like housing for example.

The ongoing corruption scandals and dragging of feet in seeking justice for victims of state repression for instance speaks volumes about the immediate priorities of the pigs at the trough.

It there have been any public expressions of ethnic demagoguery it has been from the Michukis, Koigis and Kamandas of this world and their odious “andu aitu” talk that President Kibaki has so far refused to scorn, disavow and denounce.

How can Prof. Makau insult the collective intelligence of his Kenyan compatriots to his American readers by uttering hogwash about not being able to internalize liberalism, democracy and human rights. Did we have elections? Is there a functioning media? How about our civil society?

It is interesting that Makau FIRST PUBLIC COMMENT on the Kisumu killings is NOT to a Kenyan audience but to a liberal American one. Not only interesting but veering close to opportunism because if I recall, many people, including some veteran “human rights advocates” were pointedly SILENT when the crackdowns happened in early July.

When Professor Makau, in a secret letter to a leading government official was calling for the en masse sacking of one half of a coalition government was he talking as someone who has internalized liberalism, democracy and human rights?

Not in my estimation.

Say what you will, the national constitutional conference- a process ten years in the making, was the apex of our people’s expression of liberalism, democracy and human rights. The fact that some Kenyan elites seem to have lost out in their myopic power positions does not negate this reality. Dismissing the delegates as KANU and LDP merely because some of them happen to be from certain ethnic groups would appear to me to be pandering to some of the worst manifestations of tribal fear mongerings that I have ever witnessed-especially for people like Makau who knew for instance that several if not all of the KHRC staff were Bomas delegates.

What has ended in Kenya is not the fight for reforms, but rather the end of hypocrisy that the elites in power today are any different from their KANU predecessors. In certain instances, because of their arrogance and overt tribal agendas they are actually a worse bunch than Kenyatta’s or Moi’s- and they have been able bare their fangs within eighteen months in power.

It is in this context that I do not quite to know what to make of the recent joint statement from various civil society groups .

Having been individually and collectively responsible for contributing to the log jam of the constitutional process- some even going to court to block the will of the Kenyan people- it is astounding to see the same civil society forces who were, just the other day, rubbing their hands in glee thinking they had buried the Zero Draft now wringing their hands worriedly, plaintively asking Kibaki to refuse assent to a bill, that until it was pointed out otherwise, they thought had been the coup de grace against the faction that Makau characterizes as having “fanatical” followers.

Personally, one of the saddest things I am witnessing right now is how some of my long time comrades have completely refused to see that they are BLOCKING DEMOCRATIC REFORM in Kenya by opposing the Bomas Draft. What is even more revolting is that when the Onyango Oloos and Adongo Ogonys point out this fact-and people know we have fought Luo tribal chauvinists viciously for years- we are NOW tagged as the NEW TRIBALISTS who are working for Raila Odinga!!

I never thought I would live to see the day when comrades we have spent years in the ideological trenches pushing the lie and the line that we are tribalists- even when for years some of us tolerated the "occupational hazard" that we would be the only Luos in certain meetings in certain rooms among certain groups in certain places and how some people would insist on speaking in their mother tongues when discussing matters meant for the collective…but I do not even want to go there today.

However, I am confident that our long term goals and shared history and aspirations will lead us sooner or later back to the same common ideological perspectives for social change in Kenya and where we will reconnect as part of one Kenyan national democratic force with one progressive agenda to fundamentally alter the power relations in this country and initiate wide ranging social, cultural, economic, technological and political transformations in Kenya powered by wananchi based formations all over this beautiful land.

It is true that the reform agenda in Kenya has died.

Let us remove the corpse from the morgue, drive it for the memorial service and finally bury the remains of the moth eaten cadaver of the wishy wishy Kenyan reformist neocolonial opportunists and apologists for imperialism.

And it now to push the REVOLUTIONARY agenda in Kenya for Kenya by Kenyans.

Some of us think it is a REAL tragedy that we have been TOO LIBERAL rather than too little.

When I hear someone like Prof. Makau talk about liberalism I shudder involuntarily.

Earlier in his political evolution, Makau wa Mutua was associated with people who later formed the Kenya Anti-Imperialist Front which was Marxist oriented. Perhaps he can still recall that a Marxist-Leninist considers it as an INSULT if you are referred to as “liberal” because in our lexicon, the word “liberal” conjures up a politically spineless, wishy washy flip flopper with no discernible ideological or demonstrated personal discipline.

Prof. Makau has traveled a long way indeed if today being a “liberal” is the yardstick of being progressive.

In the essays I have been writing since September last year I have said repeatedly that the Kenyan people are way ahead of the political elite. They long saw through the Murungarus and Kiraitus-you can see it is only now that Makau can publicly criticize my former lawyer-not back then when it could have made a difference.

The Kenyan people are worried about jobs, about housing, about education, about health, about safety and security-the very things the Kenyan government has made a point of doing a shitty job about.

The Kenyan people want a new constitution-and we know who has been preventing that from being a reality.

Civil society voices like Prof. Makau wa Mutua have rendered themselves politically useless and irrelevant through their open contempt of the wananchi’s intelligence and their public embrace of overt agendas driven by the worst stirrings that base politicians can degenerate to.

I am pretty excited about this.

Over the next two years, a new leadership is set to emerge in Kenya- and it will emerge everywhere- from the depths of the civil society movement; in the regrouping of veteran anti-imperialists; in the political mainstream; in the diaspora-in short everywhere.

And this new leadership will not be as arrogant as Makau and some of his collegues. Look at what happened to the formerly humble workhorses in our democratic movement- Kiraitu and Kivutha.

Power, Lord Acton said, corrupts and absolute power corrupts absoliutely.

Already here at Kenya Democracy Project, we are making contact with young Kenyan socialists who were literally in diapers when some of were cutting our political teeth a quarter of a century ago; we are also getting emails from compatriots who are older than Ngugi wa Thiongo.

I see ALL of the mainstream political parties disintegrating within the next three years to reemerge in various forms. KANU is like the former National party in South Africa- it will continue to be two parties in one until saner heads prevail; FORD-People will disappear when Nyachae becomes one of the office bearers of the new “NARC” party; FORD Kenya allure as a national party peaked soon after the 1997 elections. LDP will lose some of its members to NAK which will increasingly consolidate itself as a Greater DP.

Within civil society the Makaus are toast-in terms of credibility. I know that I will NEVER take him seriously as long as he remains that arrogant and obtuse.

We know there is turmoil. Orie Rogo Manduli must be seen to be taking the NGO Council to heights not yet scaled. It would be interesting to see how she asserts her leadership within a context that compels her to work with people who are openly contemptuous of her leadership. She must demonstrate that she is not an amoral political mercenary as has been alleged in certain quarters or a grand stander and of course, she must be a consensus builder as Chair of the NGO Council.

I recently shared my views on the plight of Kenyan women so I will not repeat it here.

And I have written extensively on Kenyan workers.

Overseas, those Kenyan organizations(and I do not have to cite them by name) that do have a mandate of representing the interests of Kenyans abroad must be seen to be doing this practically if they want to remain relevant in the long term.

When it comes to the media, the country’s traditional mainstream media must come to grips with the ramifications of the digital revolution.

For instance Onyango Oloo knows that you can create, expand and sustain a global audience just by doing some very basic things on the internet. Our voices are no longer marginalized- in spite of some people’s best efforts. With initiatives such as the Kenya Independent Media Centre taking root, the future looks bright.

To sum up, I would not be happier to hear that the reform agenda is kaput in Kenya.

I want the revolutionary agenda to be unleashed.

Onyango Oloo

6:36 PM EST

August 15, 2004

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i would really like to know where geniouses like Steven OLudhe that founder of NDP disappeared to.