Saturday, September 17, 2005

What Can Kenyans Learn from Uganda's FDC?

Onyango Oloo Goes "Hodi! Hodi!" on our Jirani's Mlango...

In a shocking development, one of Kenya's top diplomats in the United States has been sent back to Nairobi after a reported incident of rape. Press reports indicate that the man raped the Kenyan woman who is also part of Kenya's diplomatic mission in that country.

My own sources in the United States are more specific:

I have a name, and let me just say that there is hardly another name that can top that one as far as the Kenyan diplomatic pecking order in that neck of the woods. I am told the rape victim works at the UN. I am told that the rape happened in the balozi's limousine and she called the American police. And of course all this happened when President Kibaki was in town. Given the nepotistic/crony connected nature of many diplomatic and political appointments, it is possible that the alleged perpetrator must have felt an extra surge of power seeing all those well connected elites in town. Let us be clear: rape is NOT about sexual intercourse, it is a violent manifestation of power.

What I am perplexed about is this:

Why on earth is the Kenyan woman being recalled as well?

She was the one who was physically, sexually and violently assaulted remember?

I am making a plea to Ms. Mkawasi Mcharo and other members of the STOP campaign as well as the leadership of the KCA to investigate this story and come out with a public statement on this issue.

In my opinion, we all must blow a very loud firimbi on this outrageous incident. First of all, the alleged rapist must be brought to justice. It will be a scandal if the Kibaki regime decides to cover up this sexual assault. It will be an atrocity if a Kenyan woman lost a well paying position and destroyed her career simply because she was unfortunate enough to be groped and raped by a power wielding diplomatic hooligan using his phallus as an assault weapon.

Anecdotal evidence has tagged the Kenyan High Commission in Washington as a beehive for a handful of magawadi who specialize in pimping Kenyan women to visiting diginitaries and politicians. Surely, this alleged rape incident, if verified, is the ultimate consequence of a culture of impunity where diplomatic rapists feel they can get away with anything because of diplomatic immunity.

And of course these diplomats take their cue from the higher ups. One former Kenyan foreign minister was barred from re-entering the United States after he allegedly raped the daughter of a then senior civil servant who is a powerful cabinet minister today. And in a previous digital essay I did pass on information that another senior cabinet minister who is currently travelling with President Kibaki and was allegedly nabbed during the Koinange Street raids is notorious for his penchant for commercially acquired, underage pum pum.

(Here is a breaking news development that I am posting at 10:41 am Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, September 17, 2005:
From: Dickens Odhiambo
Date: Sat Sep 17, 2005 9:42 am
Subject: HON NGAITHE SENT PACKING -: [KOL] Urgent SOS for Mkawasi Mcharo, STOP and KCA

I was out there last nite and this story hit the streets like a bush
fire. It is embarassing for the Kenyan Embassy here in DC and the
Diplomatic Core at large. Yes, the Kenyan government has not released a
statement but the US Dept. of State gave Hon. Ngaithe 48 Hours to depart the USA (Diplomatic Previllage) The details are sketchy but the facts remains hat he was caught on tape. Mengine baadaye)

Back on the home front I see that the Yes side got a very resounding NO when they tried to sell their putrid imperial draft to the people of Garissa.

By the way, is it not amazing that even those bastions of local reaction and repression, the chiefs and their assistants are trooping to the NO rallies to take, perhaps for the first time in their lives a democratic political stand against the Kenyan government?

What do you say about a regime which has five of its own cabinet ministers and several of its own civil servants and administrators casting their lot with the opposition to oppose an odious dictatorial constitutional subterfuge?

Do you call that regime desperate or what?

I call it a

dik dik caught in the jaws of an ingwe.

You know, the yelps from the hapless Kivuitu may very well turn out to be a trial balloon by a beleagured regime desperate not to face the ultimate humiliation of a resounding defeat at the referendum polls. An observer in Nairobi that I correspond with recently speculated that the Yes Team may actually be " rescued" by a friendly High Court which may, at the eleventh hour decide to rule in favour of KANU and the LDP and HALT the referendum- which of course would be a pyrrhic victory indeed.

Incidentally, I feel for the banana vendors in Western Kenya and the orange juice hawkers in Central Kenya. Poleni. Personally, I think there should be a Commission of Inquiry set up to unearth the braniac who came up with the idea of using the two innocent fruits as volatile political symbols. The culprit if found should be taken to Kamiti and... never mind, it was a joke!

Yesterday evening I walked into a restaurant called Liban which is located a few doors west of the Anishnabe Native Health Centre in the Queen and Sherbourne neighbourhood of downtown Toronto. The establishment, run by a Somali woman, is named after her son and is not to be confused for another Somali restaurant called Bilan on Dundas and Jarvis which the owner named after his daughter. I had gone there to share a meal with a very good friend of mine, a Kenyan who was born and raised in Eastliegh section of the Kenyan capital and is one of the authentic Somali Sijuis- his first language is Kiswahili. My pal is a long time Pan Africanist activist and organizer who has some very wonderful links with various African, Caribbean and Latin American social movements. He is also a reservoir of knowledge on East African politics. For instance, it is his assessment that no one should be surprised if a new, more vicious civil war breaks out in neighbouring Somalia. The Nairobi installed President and former war lord has provoked the ire of the Mogadishu war lords by decreeing that the capital of Somalia should be moved from Mogadisho to Joha- a move that is certain to be resisted vigorously and militarily by the militia forces that control that conflict prone battered Horn of Africa metropolis. Given my rafiki's previous assesment of the region, there is no reason for me to second guess him about this.

Reconnecting with my friend was also an opportunity to learn a lot of new things about political developments in the country that we Luos call "Piny Rabolo"- the Land of Bananas, not because it is a Banana Republic in the political sense, but because of its famed matoke, and may add senene. Of course, I am talking about the country that gave birth to Kabaka Mwanga, John Akii-Bua, Major General Nyangweso, the hip hop phenomenon Chameleon, Robert Serumaga, Okot p'Bitek, Yash Tandon, Mahmood Mamdani and of course Idi Amin Dada.

Isn't amazing that there are Kenyans just like myself, who are so consumed by the soap opera about machungwa na ndizi, ndio na hapana, raisi mtendaji na waziri mkuu, we are so absorbed in our collective Kenyan navel gazing as to be totally oblivous of what is arguably a bigger story, a bigger political drama brewing right next door in Uganda.

Here is a quick quiz. And please do not cheat by googling. Incidentally I am NOT providing the answers at the end:

1. Who is the Vice President of Uganda?
2. Where is Kabale located?
3. Who is the most prominent feminist of Uganda?
4. What was the Katikiro?
5. Which Ugandan President hunted down the Mau Mau?
6. Which Ugandan President used to sleep in Karachuonyo before he became head of state?
7. Which Ugandan President lived in Nairobi's East Lands?
8. Chandaria is to Kenya as blank blank is to Uganda...
9. Shivji is to Dar es Salaam as dash dash is to Kampala...
10. What is the name of the woman who is currently acting Chairperson of the main Ugandan opposition grouping?
11. How many Gikuyu-Ugandans do you know? How about Kalenjin-Ugandans? Swahili-Ugandans? Somali-Ugandans?
12. In which town do you find the headquarters of the Uganda Manufacturers' Association?

How well did you do?

Please give up your Kenyan kipande if you got less than four right.

It is amazing isnt it-I mean the abysmal ignorance that Kenyans have about Uganda.

As a Dholuo speaking Kenyan I always laugh at my fellow Jengs who claim that they cannot speak "Oswayo" ati because we are "Nilotes"-plus or minus our six missing or non missing teeth. You know, even though the TZ people say that " Kiswahili was born in Tanzania, died in Kenya and buried in Uganda" it is startling to find that in Uganda, in terms of ethnic groups with a facility for the Kiswahili language, one finds the northern Luo speaking communities of the Acholi, Langi, Padhola, Alur and others who are fluent in the language and the Bantu based Baganda, Banyankole, Basoga etc struggling with Africa's most widely spoken indigenous language. Part of this I am told has to do with the colonial British legacy where, unlike Kenya it was the Ugandan Luos and other northern and eastern ethnic groups who were recruited in the police and the armed forces where Kiswahili was the lingua franca and the southern Bantus, especially the Baganda assimilated into English because the British mkoloni mkongwe was intent on grooming them as junior to mid ranking civil service functionaries.

Where am I going with this?

I am looking for an excuse to start yapping about the FDC.

Every Kenyan should learn all about the FDC because in my opinion the FDC is likely to mushroom into the ANC of East Africa in terms of sophistication of political organization, extensive mass base, strong international links and serious impact on the region's geo-political contestations.

What is it? Or rather, who are they?

Well, for me, pictures are usually more eloquent than words, so why do we start with a few that I lifted off the FDC website:

The Emblem of the FDC

The head office of the FDC

The Leadership of the FDC (minus the South African exiled Dr. Kizza Besigye)

FDC Rally in Kanungu

Launch of the FDC Kamuli branch

FDC function in Kinkizi

The Chair of the FDC Dr. Kizza Besigye and Sam Njuba

Betty Kamya and Salaamu Musumba, the acting Chairperson of the FDC

Ekanya making a point during a FDC presentation

The Ontario based physician, Dr. Muniini Mulira, a long time supporter of NRM is Canadian Coordinator for the FDC these days.

Odonga Otto

Latigo, Kanyerezi and Kamya

Bushenyi Mbarara launch

Boston Launch

Texas Launch

FDC Meeting in Bangi


, living within the country and abroad, who love our Nation and desire and seek peace, harmony and the best future for our country and People:-

UNITED AND ACTING as members of this new, patriotic, nationalistic, enlightened, non-sectarian and ideologically all-embracing party- the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and desirous to see all political forces of goodwill working together for the salvation and good of our beloved Uganda.

CONSCIOUS of the historical reality that, since its independence in 1962, Uganda has lived through cycles of national progress followed by chaos due to constitutional and political instability, and determined to break this stagnating cycle and move the country to a new plane of socio-political emancipation and progress.

RECOGNIZING the enormous socioeconomic potential of Uganda and the successes that the country scored in the 1980s and early 1990s when governance by the Movement leadership was based on the principles of openness, all-inclusiveness, honest consultations, consensus building, selflessness, sacrifices and patriotic participation in national affairs, and also on the goodwill of we Ugandans.

BUT FURTHER RECOGNIZING the drastic change in trend towards national stagnation and even decline, arising from deliberate undermining of the country’s democratic ideals as enshrined in the 1995 National Constitution; increasing reliance on individuals rather than national institutions; dominance of monologue over dialogue; intolerance of alternative views; use of bribery, sectarian divisions and sycophancy in key political processes; greed and wasteful deployment of national resources; and unpatriotic and increasingly debilitating focus on self and petty self-interests rather than on the nation and its well-being.

DEEPLY PAINED by persisting abuse of the fundamental human rights of Ugandans, particularly their rights and freedom to hold and express divergent political views; the false accusations and arrests of people, and incarceration based on trumped up treason charges, illegal detention in ungazetted so-called safe-houses; unleashing of violence against perceived opponents of the Movement (NRM-O) using security organs and illegal paramilitary groups, such as Kalangala Action Plan (KAP) and Popular Intelligence Network (PIN); and the shameless manipulation of parliamentarians and the rigging of electoral processes and elections.

ALSO DEEPLY PAINED by the persisting hemorrhage of national resources through rampant corruption, political patronage, reckless ventures and administrative laxity and ineptitude; and by the wanton destruction of youthful lives in numerous local and cross-border conflicts that have brooded through neglect and mismanagement, have engineered or have involved ourselves in-- particularly the Congo conflict, the now ended Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) insurgency in Western Uganda, and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency and cattle rustling in Northern and Eastern Uganda.

KNOWING that all the various negative activities and trends have undermined the faith of our people, locally and in the Diaspora, in our democracy, governance, politics and the authenticity of political leaders; is threatening harmony among our people and communities; has grossly undercut the image of Uganda and its people and the respect enjoyed by them internationally; is perpetuating insecurity and political instability internally and in the Great Lakes Region at severe cost to the development of the country; and is scaring away investors and long-term investments critical to national transformation.

ALSO KNOWING that all these things prevent us from maximally exploiting, for the benefit of all our people and the rapid transformation of our land, the great gift of nature, cultural diversity, and uniqueness and industriousness of our people that the Good Lord so generously bestowed upon us and our country.

BUT ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that recommitting ourselves, purposely uniting and working selflessly together, and standing ready to make all necessary sacrifices, we will set a new mission based on a shared national vision, stop the decline, and collectively take ourselves and country to new heights of peace, unity, harmony, achievements, development, transformation, greatness, and international standing and admiration.

NOW THEREFORE, AND WITH GREAT HUMILITY, present to Ugandans and all who wish our country well, this FDC Party Platform which encapsulates the challenges facing our country and what we seek to do to overcome them and move our people forward; and as a rallying call for us all to stand up and be counted, to unreservedly unite and offer ourselves and all that we have for the common good and the future of our people, and to finally banish from our country dictatorial tendencies, sectarianism, political instability, violence, insecurity, rule by cronies and all those elements and forces that have persistently undermined democracy, peace, happiness, national cohesion and dignity and our socio-economic advancement.


"One Uganda, One People – United for Peace, Progress and Prosperity".

As Uganda transitions from the Movement governance under President Museveni and his overbearing dominance of national institutions to a new multiparty political dispensation, utterances by NRM functionaries, actions by some organs of the State, increasing assault on the Judiciary, and disregard of the rights and freedoms of opposition political actors provide clear evidence of difficult times ahead. It is the conviction of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Party that the country must once again pause and take stock of where it is heading, and collectively define and agree on what we all must do to protect the democratic and socio-economic gains we have made and to break away from the recurrent cycle of progress followed by chaos and decline.

Without a doubt, it is again time for a new beginning in our beloved nation; a time to put our country back on a steady path to peaceful transition to democratic governance, national reconciliation and broad-based economic development.

FDC takes the position that there are indispensable rights that are preconditions without which democratic governance is impossible, and which any government is obligated to respect and fulfill: civil and political rights, economic and social rights, and the right to peace and security. The fundamental elements of these rights are freedom of association, freedom of speech and access to information, the provision of basic needs, and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The above convictions underpin the FDC’s Vision for leading Uganda forward: “One Uganda, One People – United for Peace, Progress and Prosperity”.

Click here for the FDC Leadership Team.

For more information browse the website yourself, OK?

The Forum for Democratic Change in Uganda has obvious echoes to Kenya's own Forum for the Restoration of Democracy in the 1990s or the National Rainbow Coalition, in the sense of being a broad based convergence of national democratic and patriotic forces.

On closer examination, one sees this resemblance as superficial.

In the Kenyan context, the original FORD was a loose conglemeration of respected nationalists like Jaramogi, Muliro, Matiba, Shikuku, Nthenge at the top with a very mixed bag of wananchi at its base. The National Rainbow Coalition was/is a temporary electoral marriage of convenience that brought together 14 political parties with the express purpose of running a single Presidential candidate and pooling opposition resources in order to defeat Moi and KANU at the 2002 polls.

With all due respect, I would argue that the Forum for Democratic Change in Uganda is a cut above, slightly more sophisticated and advanced outfit than either of the two Kenyan political formations. Part of this has to do with the very dynamics of Ugandan history- which has undergone three military coups, at least three guerrilla wars, and two decades of this unique experiment with "no party government". The Ugandans have learned from their own history, from what has been happening in Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambqiue, and through their diasporic and exiled members- Canada, the United States, the UK, Scandinavia, continental Europe and elsewhere.

In one sense therefore, the Ugandans are both our teachers and students in terms of political organizing- having seen our own pitfalls and forging new models for democratic mass mobilization.

One can see that the Forum for Democratic Change, while clearly an electoral machine hoping to implement political pluralism after the 2006 elections, also has clear elements of a more stable, extra- parliamentary national social and political movement.

To the extent that the FDC has consciously decided to eschew a clear ideological program in favour of the big tent approach, they are making strides in transcending narrow sectarian and parochial preoccupations. At the same time, we know that failure to define in very concrete terms how the Forum for Democratic Change looks at Uganda, the East and Central African and wider contintental and global context will have a very direct impact in terms of the long term sustainability of the FDC because we do know that international finance capital has a long standing tradition of coopting, neutralizing and circumscribing national democratic processes by coralling them within the confines of a neo-colonial box wedded to a neo-liberal paradigm.

I recall talking to the late Claude Dusaidi, one of the founders and key leaders of the Rwandese Patriotic Front who for a long time worked out of a certain basement in the North York neighbourhood of Toronto. He used to talk very casually about "going down to Washington to talk to the State Department" and I did not take it seriously. Today, the imperialist designs on the Democratic Republic of the Congo using Kagame's Rwanda are very clear to all.

Having seen how people like the billionaire currency speculator and Open Society head honcho George Soros have used NGOs and civil society organizations to unleash synthetic "revolutions" in Georgia, the Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe; having followed, for almost twenty years the machinations of both the National Democratic Institute and the National Republican Institute as well as its sisters like the National Endowment for Democracy(NED), it is pretty clear to me that the political organizations we launch in Kampala, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Asmara, Addis Ababa, Khartoum, Juba, Kigali, Bujumbura, Kivu, Goma, Kinshasha and elsewhere are not immune to the interference and manipulation of surrogates of the CIA, the MI5, CSIS and the direct state authorities in Ottawa, Washington, London, Paris, Stockholm, the Hague, Oslo, Tokyo you name it.

James Petras has spoken of "neoliberalism from below" when referring to the nexus between NGOs (often populated by ex-Marxists) and imperialist linked funding organizations.

That is why one must openly posit the possibility of either direct infiltration from imperialism or an even more direct flirtation from the inside by local players trying to parley their outfits to the international monopoly capital by pledging future economic and political stability predicated on a continuation of the same noxious fumes of imperialism downloaded in the local context as this or that "bilateral or multilateral cooperation pact".

Knowing next to nothing about the Forum for Democratic Change of Uganda, I will of course NOT rush to sit in on judgement on them, preferring instead to take my time to get to know the movement and its leaders a little bit better. Fortunately, at least in the Toronto context, some of these Ugandan patriots may already have very close links to their Kenyan neighbours, a country many of them passed through during the Amin, Obote, Okello and of course now Museveni years on their way to Canada.

It is far too early to suggest collaboration between the FDC and Kenyan patriots and democrats, although this does seem like an inevitable and natural development once we get to know each other better.

In the meantime, the Forum for Democratic Change may offer a glimpse of how we Kenyans can go about building something that I called for a few months ago:

A Broad based Mseto Moto Moto.

That is all I wanted to say today.

Onyango Oloo

PS: Announcement of FDC Meeting in London, the UK:

Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) UK

One people One Uganda

18bMessaline Avenue, London W3 6JX

Tel: 07 81 3 07 75 61

Uganda and the Long Road to Real Democracy

FDC UK invites you to a Public Meeting, Dinner and Dance with

Hon Salaamu Musumba – FDC Vice Chairperson

Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo – FDC Vice-Chair

Major General Mugisha Muntu (East African Legislative Assembly) – FDC Chief National Mobiliser

Hon. Reagan Okumu – FDC Deputy National Co-ordinator

Where? Danubis Hotel Regents Park (Nearest Tube Stn. St Johns Wood- Or bus No 113, 13 and 84)

When? Saturday 17th September 2005, starting at 2 PM

Uganda government officials as well as UK representatives of the UPC, DP and CP are expected to attend

UK MPs and government officials, Diplomats, Academicians, and representatives of International Humana Rights and Development Agencies, will attend

Entry fee: Meeting only (£5) and Dinner and Dance (£35)

RSVP: Sam Akaki 07813077351; Beatrice Hamjuni- 07947605266; Godfrey Ekemu- 07947564547; Edith Mpanga- 07780988147; Stella Ikanik- 07903802853


DALAHOW said...

Great articles,

Your words on democracy speaks for themselves..I wish I can borrow some pictures on pro-democracy figures especially the ones from Somali North Eastern Kenya..

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