Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Uhuru's New Wine Is Decadent in KANU's Old Wineskin

Onyango Oloo Hauls Kenyatta Junior Onto the Ratili and Finds The Opposition Leader Underwhelming...

1.0. Retrieving From the Old Sunday School Lessons of Yester Year...
Matthew 9:14-17:
Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
15 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
16 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (NIV)

Mark 2:18-22:

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"
19 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
21 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins." (NIV)

Luke 5:33-39:

They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."
34 Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."
36 He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, "The old is better.'"

Selections from the Gospels According to Matthew, Mark and Luke; New Testament, Holy Bible

How Wine was made in Palestine Back in The Day...

Wine was made by treading barefoot on the grapes in a wine press, a square or circular pit hewn out of the rock, or dug out and lined with rocks and sealed with plaster. (See Isaiah 63:2-3; Job 24:11b; Lamentations 1:15; Joel 3:13; Matthew 21:33; Revelation 14:19-20; 19:15, where treading the winepress was a symbol of judgment.) The juice then flowed through a channel into a lower vessel, a winevat which functioned as a collecting and fermenting container for the grape juice or must.

In the warm climate of Palestine, grape juice began to ferment very quickly and there was no easy way to prevent fermentation. After the first state of fermentation had taken place in the winevat, the wine was separated from the lees (that is, sediment of dead yeast, tartar crystals, small fragments of grape skins, etc.) and strained through a sieve or piece of cloth (cf. Matthew 23:24). After four to six days it was poured into clay jars lined with pitch (called amphorae in Greece, e.g. Jeremiah 48:11) or animal skins for storage and further fermentation.[3]

Wineskins were made of whole tanned goatskins where the legs and tail were cut off and had been sealed (1 Samuel 1:24; 10:3; 16:20; 25:18; 2 Samuel 16:1). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word nebel, "skin-bottle, skin," is translated by the KJV as "bottle" which gives us images of glass wine bottles. But these were rather whole goatskins, with nubbins bulging out where the legs once were, the neck tied off where the wine has been poured in, the whole large skin bulging almost to bursting as the carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentation process stretches it to its limit...
(Excerpted from an online Christian site).

2.0.Applying a Biblical Parable to a Kenyan Political Renovation Attempt

"You should no longer feel the cold, they came with a wave and swept us, but now we are on track. Go home knowing we have given our party a new life and momentum...they have managed to get away with passing the buck and referring to the past and Kanu... enough is enough, we have apologised for our past...we will no longer be apologetic but we shall now be at the forefront of voicing the concern of our people.."- Uhuru Kenyatta at the June 20th, 2005 launch of Building a New Kenya: KANU's Strategic Plan for 2005-2010

Yesterday, the leader of the Official Opposition and the distant runner up in the last Presidential elections

Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled KANU's plan to reclaim the political leadership from NARC come 2007.

An affair not totally devoid of political melodrama, the launch, at Bomas of Kenya, of the KANU roadmap to power was marked by earnest sounding fighting words from an increasingly assertive Uhuru Kenyatta no doubt bouyed by opinion polls that consistently show him besting the indolent Ikulu incumbent.

The fact that the incident took place without incident- a day after Uhuru had addressed a rally that had been "cancelled" by the NARC government on allegedly "security reasons" may point to the fact that Kibaki has finally wisened up slightly to realize that any flirting with the Biwott faction was equivalent to draining a glass full of

concentrated hydrochloric acid. Or it could be a reflection of discreet donor pressure to stabilize the major factions in the mainstream parties by "convincing" Kibaki and his cronies that it is NOT in their interests to destabilize KANU. Or it may just be a case of Uhuru Kenyatta, knowing the internal preoccupations within the NARC alliance deciding to call the ruling formation's bluff and go ahead with KANU's agenda.

As I indicated a couple of weeks ago, Uhuru Kenyatta has increasingly cut a figure as the most consistent nationalist figure in the current mainstream contestations for political power- he seemed to have shunned the MEGA tribalists at a time when Safina, NAK and certain sections of KANU in Central Province seem to be pushing a GEMA andu aitu agenda of ethnic supremacy; his top lieutenants seem to come from the Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western and Coast Province at a time when his other mainstream rivals-





are perceived to be retreating to their respective tribal and regional laagers; he stole the thunder during the recent IPI conference denouncing NARC for undermining democracy at a time when the Kibaki regime is squirming because of the Lucy Kibaki gaffes and the G-8 debt relief rebuffs; untainted by any long term insider ties to the ancien regime, he also can milk his surname for its political brand value.

I have not, of course, had an opportunity to read the KANU blue print in any form and my impressions of its contents are confined to the cursory descriptions I have seen of it in online versions of the Nairobi dailies.

For instance here is how BERNARD NAMUNANE and MURIITHI MURIUKI of the Daily Nation reported the story:

Kanu yesterday launched a blueprint for the 2007 elections and asked the Government to stop blaming the former ruling party for its failures.

At a meeting held under tight security at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, the party pledged to establish a revamped secretariat at its headquarters and energise its vast branch network built during its 40 years in power.

The secretariat, headed by the executive director, Mr Julius Sunkuli, is to have four departments whose duties will range from research, recruitment, fund-raising and publicity.

The committees will be headed by vice-chairmen Dalmas Otieno (research and policy analysis), Henry Kosgey (party organisation), Chris Okemo (fund-raising and mobilisation) and Katana Ngala (publicity and public relations).

The committees are meant to place the party on higher political ground in readiness for re-election in 2007.

A think-tank of professionals will be hired by the party to advise and assist Kanu MPs with the knowledge to perform their role in Parliament as the Official Opposition.

To give a new vibrancy to their performance in Parliament, the shadow cabinet, which has been deserted by some MPs who were co-opted into Government, is to be restructured to play its role effectively.

Others to be replaced are those in a rival camp headed by Kerio South MP Nicholas Biwott...

Perhaps I missed something- but the Nation report does not mention what KANU's socio-economic agenda is. I fail to detect anything substantially different when I go over to the Standard to pore over their own coverage of the same event. their reporters-Nixon Ng’ang’a and Ayub Savula- inform us that the blueprint is glossy and we learn that Uhuru Kenyatta made some appropriate noises about fighting corruption and increasing democratic space- the usual platitudes and motherhood statements we expect from those who have learnt by rote the mantra of "transparency, accountability and good governance".

I want to submit to Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Chris Okemo, Dalmas Otieno and the new power brokers in KANU version# 2005(Reloaded) that it takes more than a freshly minted plan on glossy paper to earn the mantle of a party for change, a party for the future.

Let us go back to the Christian parable of the old wine in new wineskins for just a sec. The last sentence from the St. Luke rendering of the story indicates quite clearly that "And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"

Even a non-connoisseur like myself is aware of the rudiments of vintage- in other words, the older the wine, the better it is, supposedly.

Unfortunately, the laws of wine-making sometimes meet their diametrical opposite when it comes to the fundamentals of political struggle and social change.

Older, as we know after suffering through 39 years of Kenyatta/Moi iron fisted dictatorship DEFINITELY does not EQUAL "BETTER" in our concrete Kenyan context.

On the other hand, as we ruefully found out, the superficially "new" as in the old KANU wolf in the "new" NARC sheepskin, is sometimes worse than the old because of the higher expectations from the Wananchi.

Sitting here in

Montreal, Quebec a distance of 11,719.7951 kilometres (and 7-8 hours in terms of time zones) from

Nairobi, Kenya
Does NOT,contrary to some reactionary pundits online, (who were apparently bypassed by news of the digital revolution) prevent me from asserting with ease that KANU is still very much OUT OF SYNC with the democratic aspirations of the people of Kenya.

Why do I say so?

Because I have seen KANU tongue tied when it really mattered.

Uhuru did not say ANYTHING when the Kibaki regime was cracking down on the striking nurses and civil servants.

KANU did not say anything when the donors refused to grant Kenya debt relief.

Nor has the opposition party spoken with anything which indicates a different vision when it comes to a dynamic foreign policy.

Part of KANU's problem is that NARC is the old KANU with a different coat of paint while Uhuru's KANU is the same KANU with a new coat of paint and the Biwott faction is the old KANU without the varnish. FORD-People is the tired KANU rump that wants to help NAK revive the old KANU without the younger Kenyatta and the younger Moi. LDP is the old New KANU struggling to distinguish itself from both the old KANU in NARC and the "new" same KANU in Uhuru's faction and the same old KANU in Biwott's faction.

Given this dizzying choice of KANU clones and retreads, the most sensible choice for the Kenyan wananchi to make is to say firmly:


Come 2007.

As long as the mainstream Kenyan political parties remain moored in the neo-liberal swamp land; as long as these parties remain wedded to the same old, same old neo-colonial strategems for personal, tribal and regional power; as long as these political parties do not have an agenda for radical and far reaching SOCIAL and ECONOMIC reforms that REJECTS the IMF/World Bank/G-8 privatization/retrenchment/profit repatriation formula; as long as these political parties shut out women and youth and progressive voices from their national leadership structures; as long as the main preoccupation remains who will sleep in State House come January 2008- then these mainstream political parties will remain BANKRUPT and IRRELEVANT to the majority of Kenyans who are deeply disillusioned with mainstream Kenyan politics and their opportunistic, flip flopping leaders.

Uhuru Kenyatta had better have something going for him other than his relative YOUTH- the world has seen many a young fool graduate into becoming into an even older political buffoon. Uhuru Kenyatta should understand that his family name is both a blessing and a curse- the blessing being that he can cash in on Mzee's enduring enigmatic charisma and the curse being stuck with the last name of one of Kenya's most notorious land-grabbers. Unless Uhuru Kenyatta reinvents himself as a SOCIALIST(something I do not see happening- unless

Elephants begin to win Ndombolo competitions and

a Zebra wins the Kentucky Derby) and KANU adopts a National Democratic Program of Action, both will remain stuck in the Kenyan past.

This goes in equal measure for all the KANU clones on the mainstream Kenyan political stage at the moment.

Is there an alternative to KANU, NARC and all the other KANU clones?

Of course.

Find out more by clicking on this link. and this other one as well. and if you have some extra time, check this link also....

Onyango Oloo

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