By Adongo Ogony
If our First Lady,
Lucy Kibaki was
Camilla Parker Bowles, sorry, I mean the Duchess of Cornwall, the entire British media, particularly the tabloid writers of London, would be in jail. Actually I think they would all be rounded up and deported to Kenya and handed over to one, Sir Edward Clay for some tongue lashing before being thrown to Kamiti Maximum Security Prison to learn some manners from the inmates. This actually might be a good move. As nosy as those folks are they could help us sniff out the spot where their British compatriots buried our hero, Dedan Kimathi.
Now that would be news, wouldn’t it?
Anyways I was just about floored with laughter the other day to hear that our good friend the M.P for Makadara,
the one and only Rueben Ndolo, he of the ukiwaona hao fame, has composed some not very flattering lyrics in honour of our own Duchess of Othaya and found his behind in a police cell in Embu.
May be not.
I mean how many times do you get arrested in Nairobi and get interrogated in Embu?
Actually I shouldn’t be laughing-this is pretty serious.
But let me reassure Hon. Ndolo that for most rap artists here in North America being locked up for your lyrics is a badge of honour. It practically guarantees you, a platinum CD, a DVD to follow and a lot more, believe me.
At this rate though I am a little worried what would happen to our music genius Poxi Presha if he ever dared to venture into the forbidden grounds with his piercing lyrics. I would tell PP to keep it low at least for now.
Same with Gidi Gidi Maji Maji crew.
It seems the unbwogable Lucy is on the prowl. I may be wrong.
I don’t know much about Hon. Ndolo but I have been told he was one hell of a good boxer. He used to floor most of those cocky nutcases in the ring. Did I say that? Never mind. I meant he made sure those who came into the ring thumbing their noses at him left with a bloody nose instead, as a reminder not to play around with the would be Mheshimiwa.
I have known a few great amateur boxers in my life.
My all time great is
Crispino Ochieng, the man we simply knew in the University of Nairobi as “Pino”.
Tall, smart and just devastating to unsuspecting opponents who got their just deserts trying to mess up my man Pino. One of these days I am going to get a hold of Crispino to give me the inside dossier on Rueben and his boxing career.
Here in North America they have their own
Rubin Carter, whom they call “The Hurricane”.
This man might have a lot of advice for Hon. Ndolo. He was one of the very toughest in the USA, until good old racism caught up with him.
Carter was jailed for life for a crime he never committed just when he was approaching his peak as a professional boxer. In the US of A the black skin is half the crime, the other half is an accusing white “victim” and voila it is strike three. There are exceptions of course. Folks like O.J Simpson have managed to beat the rap after spending their entire fortunes on a legal team larger than the Gor Mahia Football Club.
Rubin Carter fought his way out of jail and into freedom and is now a Canadian citizen, having left the US. He is today running an organization that helps to free the wrongly convicted.
Now you see my point:
The two Ruebens/Rubins are going to need each other much sooner than later. Anyway Carter’s story is captured in one of Denzel Washington’s great movies,
“The Hurricane”. Our own Rueben better be watching that movie as soon as he gets out of that Embu cell.
My other favourite amateur boxer is a man by name Paul Otewa. He used to do his thing with the “Reru” crew; that is the Railway Boxing Club. He was as good as they come at his business. This man is very important in my life. You see when I was finally forced to take off from the Special Branch goons in 1987; I did not have the option of using our beloved Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. That route was closed for me. So I figured why not run to my then very cool girlfriend who was a librarian in a Teacher’s Training College which I am not going to tell you.
So there I was headed to check on “my girl” at this mysterious TTC. Never mind that I hadn’t seen her in all of two years, most of which I spent doing what folks do at Kamiti Prison, namely, battling with vicious lice trying to eat you alive, smuggling in newspapers to keep yourself sane, having those very stimulating political discussions and occasionally watching “oral movies”. For those with dirty minds, it is not what you think. “Oral movies” in prison is an art form in a class of its own. We had a man called Wamalwa, not the late V.P of course, and he was a very expensive item at Kamiti Medium Prison.
Wamalwa was a “mobile one man movie theatre” to be rented for the right amount of kali(Rooster brand, the official currency in Kenyan prisons) cigarettes; you remember those small wicked looking things, that some Luo women like smoking upside down( although THEY preferred the Ten Cent brand). I mean with the lit part inside the mouth. Talk about a unique art form.
Well, Wamalwa the movie would come to each prison hall on Sundays and narrate whole movies complete with the sound track and the whole works gripping the entire hall into complete silence, something even beatings from prison guards could never achieve. If one dared as much as to cough when the movie was on, he would get thorough and instant justice to restore silence. Needless to say his favourite movie was Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I am not making this up and it has nothing to do with Lucy and her own forty thieves that she promised Kenyans are being investigated. I wonder what happened. Could we get some update on that? Please.
Anyhow when I reached the said TTC, my “girlfriend” was nowhere to be found. You see in those days we didn’t have the almighty cell phones to arrange stuff. We relied on the villager’s luck. That is the one in a hundred chances that your host would be home when you pop up to see them without prior arrangement. Anyway for me not only was my friend nowhere to be seen, later on, I was devastated to learn she had been smart enough to get married instead of waiting up on a jailbird. I was doing my second stint in the jails since I knew her from my high school days and I think she figured it is hard to get anything going with a guy constantly behind bars. Good for her. Anyway don’t feel sorry for me, I am happily married now to the Princess from Eritrea. Did I say happily? No, I meant married, are you happy now? Good. Now let’s go.
This is where my buddy Paul Otewa, comes in. From the TTC we tried everything to evade the noose of the SB that was getting closer by the day. We tried the Uganda route but the Museveni boys were too menacing for us, so we ended up in Migori and as luck would have it, who do we meet in Migori? It was Paul Otewa working at his father’s auto mechanic shop. As soon as he saw me he laughed as only he could and yelled at me “You lucky son of a gun, you are at it again” When I inquired why he was making such an outrageous statement he told me he had a feeling this time if I get busted, I am going in for a long, long time.
To cut a long story short, Paul Otewa is one of those in the long chain of sympathisers relatives and friends that made it possible for me and my comrade to escape the Special Branch dragnet and make it to Tanzania and that is why I have a particular fondness for boxers like Mheshimiwa Reuben Ndolo.
Now, I know Hon. Ndolo made a very strong statement denouncing his arrest as an act of intimidation and abuse of his rights as a Kenyan who has freedom of expression. I don’t know what the human rights groups and even other MPs have in mind about this very unfortunate development, but I for one have some very urgent questions for the Commissioner of Police Brigadier Ali and his boss John Michuki.
First of all, what exactly was Hon. Ndolo arrested for? The media says he was arrested for ridiculing Lucy and her husband, President Mwai Kibaki. If that is indeed the case, since when has it been declared a crime to make fun of anybody including, the couple in the big house? I mean if I was to get a penny for every funny cartoon from Gado of the Nation and Kham from The Standard that has satirized the First Couple, and I am using that term loosely, if you get my drift, I would be on my way to Kenya as a rich man to retire peacefully, instead toiling here in the snow of Canada.
Even during the Moi rule that we have all condemned as an era of intolerance towards dissenting voices, Kenyans still recall with fondness that very humuorous TV team known as “Redykulass” that made all of us laugh as they made fun of President Moi and anybody who invoked their talented wrath. Are we going backwards?
Secondly, who ordered the arrest of Hon. Ndolo? I mean we are told Ndolo was summoned to the CID headquarters in Nairobi. Obviously not the entire police brass was at the said event where the allegedly offending lyrics were performed. Someone must have made the judgment that Hon. Ndolo had committed a crime and should be interrogated. Was it the officers at the alleged scene of crime? Was it the officers watching the offence on TV? Was it the Commissioner of Police? Or was it the alleged victims namely, Lucy and President Kibaki?
I ask all these questions, because the worst thing that can happen to our country is to create a situation where politicians or even their spouses however powerful they are, can simply place calls to our police bosses and order the arrest of so and so and police officers without as much as blinking an eye are off rushing to apprehend the offending parties. Our country knows very well the bitter consequences of such erratic and undemocratic behaviour from the rulers of our country.
Such a scenario would and has created a situation where law enforcement officers arrest people first at the behest of political heavyweights and then find out if they can pin a crime on them. Tragically this is not an academic issue anymore under the Kibaki regime.
Not long ago, two Standard Newspaper reporters who published a story titled “Moneybags” were rounded up reportedly because Minister Chris Murungaru, then in charge of the police force was pissed off with them. By the time the whole fiasco exploded in the face of Murungaru and his friends and the journalists freed never to be charged with a crime, a chill had been sent all across the country, basically telling Kenyans that one can be arrested and humiliated by the police simply because some very powerful people were angry with them.
Then we have the case of David Makali and his colleague from the Standard who have just been found innocent after being dragged to court on obviously politically motivated charges arising from tapes of police interrogations regarding the unresolved case of the murder of a prominent Kenyan academic and a key figure at the National Constitutional Conference, Dr. Crispin Odhiambo Mbai.
The two journalists endured almost a year of what amounts to persecution simply for doing their job. Ironically the official suspects in the Mbai case have now been found innocent and released. The Kenya Police top brass have not even bothered to tell the nation and Mbai’s family what they are going to do next to bring Dr. Mbai’s murderers to justice and yet they seem to have all the time, officers and resources to be chasing politicians like Hon. Ndolo who obviously have not killed anybody.
In a country where thugs and robbers are running amok in every corner of the land wreaking havoc, it strikes me as truly absurd that our police force are playing political games trying to suppress the rights of Kenyans instead of investing their energies to apprehend real criminals including the kingpins of corruption who are ruining our country as we speak.
The other silly thing about the whole saga is that everybody knows that this kind of behaviour of terrorizing critical voices always backfires. Kenyans have no time for this nonsense anymore and Ndolo is going to be a free man however offended the First Lady and/or even our President may feel.
In my opinion, it is an act of political stupidity and a waste of resources for our law enforcement people and their bosses to engage in this cat and mouse business. At any rate as a result of the arrest, everybody is now desperately looking for the “Ndolo Lyrics”. Some have even come with titles for the CD, in names I don’t want to use in a family newspaper.
The mischievious folks online have already set up dozens of threads offering “Ndolo Lyric Competitions” and they are spinning all sorts of nasty and very unflattering stuff and generally having a ball at the expense of the First Couple. When we tell these guys that “The times, they are a changing” they think we are joking. Well at least the joke is not on us.
On a more serious note, let me say I think Hon. Ndolo is not being harassed because of whatever lyrics he waxed at that event. The man is being intimidated because he is emerging as a fearless guy who speaks his mind and they want him to shut up. It is also supposed to be a warning to others that they better watch out.
Well my fellow Kenyans, just remember the old saying that goes something like this:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out
because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out
because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the labor leaders, and I did not speak out
because I was not a labor leader.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one
left to speak out for me.
--The Reverend Martin Niemöller, a pastor in the German Confessing Church who spent seven years in a concentration camp
I don’t think we are going to allow that situation to happen in Kenya.
The writer is a human rights activist.
Friday, April 15, 2005
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