Saturday, September 24, 2005

Memo to Postponent Proponents- Postpone Your Duplicity!

Onyango Oloo Exposes the Shadiness of those Yelping "Tuihairishe! Let Us Postpone!!"

Yesterday (Friday, September 23, 2005) there was a remarkable coincidence in unanimity of opinion as the leader of the YES pack,

President Mwai Kibaki emphatically ruled out any postponement of the November 21st referendum poll- sentiments echoed and reiterated by one of the main spokespersons of the NO posse, Raila Odinga.

The Kenyan head of state and his Roads Minister may be coming from different ends of the mainstream political spectrum but what they say resonates with millions of Kenyans- including this lowly cyberscribe keyboarding these words from southern Ontario on the official third day of

Canadian autumn.

This essay is going to suggest that the Tuhairishe Kura ya Maoniaficionados are nothing more than closeted Yes supporters who have developed running stomachs in the face of the Hapana avalanche that threatens to bury many of the parliamentary turncoats in humiliating defeating in 2007- if not sooner.

The Gang of 74 led by Zaddock Syongo and Noah Wekesa are foot shuffling, spineless and waffling opportunists who, I suspect only make up their minds after watching which way the upepo is pepetaring the bendera. To me they are actually WORSE than the overt Yes advocates who are so desperate for victory that some of them have invested in gunias of bhangi and lorry loads of brand new pangas to be handed to hooligans targeting NO rallies.

Before I rip into these vibarakala further, let me first pause and express my solidarity and concerns for those Kenyans who are literally in the eye of

Hurricane Rita so to speak.

Earlier in the day I saw this report in the Daily Nation:

Facing the Eye of Hurricane Rita:

A Kenyan's tale of tough choices as deadly Rita approaches

Story by ITUMIA wa CUCU in Galveston, Texas: Daily Nation: September 23, 2005

Were it not for CNN, I would have said people are lying about the destruction that Hurricane Rita is supposed to bring. The ocean is calm and the trees are not swaying from side to side as in the movies. I have lived in Galveston for quite a while now, an island about 100 kilometres from Houston in Texas. It is a nice place, with the evening breeze and romantic walks, and, of course, the beach just three blocks from my apartment. I therefore do not understand why Rita has chosen this island as its path. Bad things are supposed to happen to other people.

It’s Monday and Rita is in the Key West area. The media are talking about the storm becoming a category two. I immediately start paying attention to this thing.

Having graduated with a history degree from Egerton University, Njoro, I go back to my books and remember that Galveston was wiped out by a hurricane in 1900. Between 6,000 and 12,000 people were killed. In my mind I am thinking, this is not 1900, and man has learnt a few things since then.

I start thinking about getting ready for Rita. Like a teenager going out on the first date, I do not have a clear understanding of what I should do, although there are a million warnings in Galveston about preparing for hurricanes.

I put off getting ready today. There is tomorrow. On Monday afternoon the mayor of Galveston holds a meeting and urges people to pack and leave.

On Tuesday, I go to a police training class. One of the topics for discussion is the approaching storm. The mayor declares an emergency on the island and the Governor of Texas does the same for the state.

It starts to hit me. Maybe I should start doing something about Rita. I plan on getting some petrol and some groceries from my local Walmart.

In the evening, I go by Walmart and the petrol station is swamped. There are long queues. I go in to get some groceries and the same long queues are waiting for me.

I decide to return at night, reasoning that there will be fewer people. At 11pm, I go back to the Walmart and the queues are still there. Many stores have long closed and my options are limited.

I have to get petrol now, so I line up and wait my turn. I then go inside to get groceries and the queues are even longer. The water shelf is empty; all the water has been bought. I pick a few things and line up for about an hour to pay.

On Wednesday, Rita has become a category four storm, with winds of 280 kilometres per hour. I start to become scared, but I tell myself I have been in the Middle East (in a war zone) and other countries, and I have been through Saba Saba in Kenya and, therefore, I should not be scared.

I start thinking of the Kenyans I know that live in Galveston County. There is the quiet lady from western Kenya that works at the library. There are the two sisters from Kiambu, and there is Joyce, Perris and one or two others that I see now and then.

I think of the two sisters from Tanzanian who live on the island, and I say a prayer for them. I hope all these people have been evacuated.

To Itumia wa Cucu, the two sisters from Kiambu, Joyce, Perris and all Kenyans, together of course with ALL the residents of the region regardless of nationality, citizenship, race, gender, age, class, age, religion or any another identifier, it is my hope that each and every person makes it out alive, safe and sound. As many of you know, I am not the praying kind. Our bonds of humanity however, make all of reflect on our shared destiny.

The other night, I spent an hour updating my meteorological knowledge thanks to the science heavy panel on Larry King Live, and anyone who has watched

Bill Nye knows why he earned the sobriquet of the “Science Guy”. I was left slightly non-plussed when I felt the pumping adrenaline trickling from the TV set to the living room from where I was watching as an assortment of water drenched CNN Alpha Males talk giddily and exuberantly of their excitement of being assigned to cover natural calamities like Katrina that have left in their terrible wake thousands of deaths and a mounting toll of devastation to entire communities in the Gulf States of the US. Of course it is almost orgiastic for these disaster groupies to cover a hurricane for live cable television when they know that an aircraft will airlift them to suburban safety as soon as the 20 foot watery invaders breach the levees and come slightly too close for News Night with

Aaron Brown….

One of the best moments in that Larry King gab fest came when a caller from Minneapolis asked a swali which gave the “Science Guy” his cue to talk about global warming, pollution, fossil fuels, the destruction of wet lands and other Bush supported corporate crimes against the natural and human environment.

To come back to the shifting sands of the collapsing Yes Nyoomba wa Karata.

It has been amazing to see the diversity of tactics of what I should broadly call the Anti-NO Side, because some of them are already too embarrassed to associate themselves publicly with the Yes side.

I have seen and heard people exhort Kenyans to “boycott” the entire process; I have seen the hand-wringing and of course the pathetic bleating from the Yes- side’s back up choir of cyber supporters.

Incidentally as a socialist, I see nothing wrong with the term propaganda.

I also see nothing wrong with people having overt and explicit political agendas.

What amazes me is the hypocrisy of people who berate others for pushing "propaganda" and "hidden agendas" while simultaneously pushing their own overt propaganda and explicit agenda.

Yesterday I saw a propaganda piece by Peter Mwaura lambasting the propaganda methods of the NO side.

That Daily Nation article that appeared in today's paper has since then been recycled ad infinitum approvingly by open and closeted proponents of the Yes proposition.

In a series of back handed “compliments” Mr Mwaura on the surface “extols” the Orange team for seizing the thunder from their opponents- all the while oozing acerbic comment in every line of every paragraph of his op-ed.

In my opinion, and with all due respect to Peter Mwaura who is one of Kenya’s most distinguished journalists, I think that the writer is being not only disingenuous but actually slightly dishonest when he talks of the NO side’s propaganda while being a propagandist for the Yes side.

Having been a long time media watcher, especially of North American network television I know it is a very old trick to grab a pundit, dress him up as an “objective expert” and have him push this or that argument.

It has been argued for instance that an apparently “objective” feature story is more effective than a paid advertisement. For instance, if you have an African-American single mother of three formerly of the projects write an op-ed in the allegedly liberal leaning (some people think, not me!) Washington Post about how Bush’s tax cuts lifted her into the corporate boar rooms, you have scored a propaganda coup far more lethal than paying a Madison Avenue firm to run all day 30 second Republican commercial spots on CNN and Fox News.

Likewise in the Kenyan context, if you plant an innocent looking YES PROPAGANDA piece by Peter Mwaura in the NAKTION you can parlay the great editor’s international reputation of excellence in the profession as "evidence" that at last someone "objective" is skewering the propaganda tactics of the NO side.

Mr. Mwaura is simply NOT CREDIBLE when he passes over in silence the recent widely reported remarks attributed to Internal Security Minister John Michuki assuring the Agikuyu (even excluding the Meru, Embu, Tharaka, Chuka, Mbeere, Tigania and other affiliated Mount Kenya peoples) that they should sleep soundly because “their President” Mwai Kibaki is taking care of business together with “their minister for Special Projects” Njenga Karume.

Why no mention of the shameless propaganda lie by the Yes side that civil servants and state resources will be marshalled to push for the Wako Draft allegedly because it is a “government document” that was printed by the “government” on “government paper”?

Incidentally, since when did the NAK faction- a fraction of NARC take over the Kenyan government which is still legally a COALITION called the National Rainbow Coalition consisting of the 13 member National Alliance of Kenya and an entity called the Liberal Democratic Party?

What amazes me so much is that sections of the Agikuyu elite are completely and totally oblivious as to how their contemptuous and arrogant statements are playing in the wider Kenyan community. Have Kenyans with origins in the Mount Kenya region forgotten the huge backlash occasioned by an earlier set of arrogant fat cats- the so called “Kiambu Mafia”?

I have been saying for the last couple of years that the so called “Big Tribes” of Kenya- the Luos, the Agikuyu, the Luhya, the Kalenjin and the Akamba- have to be extremely sensitive to any propensity for tribal chauvinism because this is one of the ingredients that will eventually complete the macabre recipe for full-fledged civil war in Kenya.

The true import of Auschwitz and Rwanda is to embrace the watchword of “Never Again!”

And speaking of Auschwitz, let us pause for a moment of silence in memory of the venerated

Simon Wiesenthal who passed away earlier this week at 96 after more than five decades of pursuing aging Hitler war criminals to the ends of the earth literally. Rest in Peace Mzee Simoni wa Vienna.

Why is Peter Mwaura completely silent on the Kenyan Interhamwesque FM vile talk reported recently by Maina Kiai about a Gikuyu language radio station warning of the “animals from the West”?

Who are these nyamu cia ruguru?

How are they different from the

hundreds of thousands of inyenzi “cockroaches” who were dumped in the river Nyaborongo destined for “Ethiopia” by vengeful Hutu hate mobs in a small land-locked blood soaked land west of Kenya about eleven years ago?

Anyone who thought that the Yes side’s propaganda war is confined to verbal histrionics and rhetorical pyrotechnics should have sobered up after the Nairobi dailies revealed those gleaming brand new

pangas that may or may not have been purchased by hard working tax payers and then handed over to young hoodlums literally bused in from the teeming slums of Nairobi to cause havoc in Thika.

According to press reports

these violent felons were hell bent on making contact with Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Bonaya Godana, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi and other NO leaders assembled on the dais.

What were they going to do had they succeeded in clambering on to the stage?

Reach out with outstretched hands to say habari zenu wazee?

Let us not forget that the three killers of the Bomas Devolution Chair Dr. Crispin Odhiambo Mbai were also a multi-ethnic tag team recruited from the same desperate neighbourhood to snuff out the life of a man who symbolized the section of the Bomas conference that together with the Executive represented the gravest threat to some of those power hungry NAK mandarins.

It is scary how once completely decent human beings gradually become vicious and ruthless masterminds of political assassinations when the stakes are sufficiently high enough.

In 1997 I was flabbergasted to find out that one of the alleged masterminds of the Likoni massacres was the youthful Hisham Mwidau a KANU parliamentary aspirant.

I was astounded because I remembered Mwidau Junior as a somewhat bashful and bright eyed Form One student at HH The Aga Khan Kenya Secondary School when I was doing my “A” levels in that school in 1979-80.

Who would have thought that this innocent, intelligent, good-natured urbane teenager would grow up to be mixed up with ruthless, state-connected insiders like the late unlamented Karisa Maitha and the Idi Amin era fugitive war criminal Omar Masumbuko and other sinister members of a cabal that was fingered for having coordinated the series of fascist and terrorist attacks on innocent civilians whose only crime was that they could not answer a greeting in any of the Mijikenda tongues?

Much closer to home, these days, whenever I see and read of

Kiraitu Murungi’s increasingly unhinged political pronouncements, I find it very difficult to reconcile to the soft spoken man who helped me get a Kenyan passport in 1994 when the then Kenyan government was shuttling me from office to office; find it difficult to believe that this is the same man who took me to his South C maisonette for lunch where we discussed Kenyan politics avidly when he was then a Ford-Kenya MP; and of course find it difficult to believe that this is the same man who made a point of reconnecting me to Gitobu Imanyara, Wanjiru Kihoro and other political comrades when I emerged from prison in 1987- an event where he was almost singularly responsible as the lead lawyer who kept up the barrage of legal challenges to my continued incarceration after I had completely the required two thirds and was eligible for release on remission of sentence.

The Kiraitu Murungi I see these days is totally drunk with power.

I will not say that I have ever seen any statements attributed publicly to Kiraitu that implicate him directly with overt ethnic chauvinism in the way that the more honest (or reckless, depending on where you sit) Michuki keeps running off his ukabila infested mdomo.

Nevertheless, because he never challenges and denounces these deranged outbursts, I can assume that my former lawyer is complicit; that he endorses these remarks because Kiraitu Murungi, if he so chose, could stand up and contradict these tribalists who speak openly in his presence.

Yet this is the same lawyer who had to flee for his life in July 1990 because of his history of defending the Onyango Oloos, the George Anyonas, the Edward Oyugis and Wanyiri Kihoros.

Strange isn't it?

Related to the yodelling for a referendum deferral is the new found "insight" that the NO side are driven by a blind greedy quest for "power".

Here for instance is what one of my good cyberbuddies Papa F forwarded to a public forum from a Kenyan who did not want to disclose their name-or handle:

From: "nmatunda"
Date: Fri Sep 23, 2005 2:34 pm
Subject: Fwd: A Constitution Scholar's Comments on the NO Tsunami (Fwd)
--- In, "Fulbert Namwamba"


I am still awaiting to hear from yaya Andrew et al as to the
specific concerns of the orangemen.

A close observation of the NO campaigners, particularly their
rhetoric, clearly points out that their aim is not a new
constitution but to grab power. I am deeply disturbed by statements
that are calling for the replacement of the government in the event
the bananas lose. We are in a deep political crisis.

It is increasingly becoming clearer by each day that the orangemen
are emboldened in their thinking that the massive turnouts in their
rallies mean the Kenyans want a change of government. The question
is: what makes the orangemen think that once this government
collapses the Kibaki people would let them run their government?

What I am witnessing is a sad reality of African politics: we engage
in politics as a zero-sum game. What is going in Kenya is a steady
movement towards what Thomas Hobbes described as a "state of nature"
where every man is against every man, there is no place for
industry, no culture, no arts, no society, there is continual fear,
and violent death... According to Hobbes, this is caused by man's
unrelentless pursuit for power.

I do not know whether the orangemen are thinking this far but my
knowledge of the past tells me that they do not represent the best
hope for the country. As much as I find the proposed constitution
faulty is a number of areas, I still feel that those opposing it do
not have a credible position to kill it. Instead, they might end up
throwing out the birth water with the baby.

Let's pray our nation do not come tumbling down due to senselessness
and a hungering for power.

"Name witheld"
--- End forwarded message ---

Well, here is my rejoinder to the scholar:

First of all, the English idiomatic cliché (derived from German according to some literary geeks) you are grasping for is,

"throwing out the baby with the BATH water"
NOT throwing out the "birth water" with the katoi, ok?

So, Mwalimu, what is the Wako Draft all about?

Isn't it precisely about consolidating MORE powers in the institution of the presidency-even as its proponents exclaim that this is not the case?

So Mwalimu, what is the so called "Government of National Unity" all about?

Is it not precisely a naked strategem to smuggle into the state the very people Kenyans rejected at the polls in 2002?

Why is it that Simeon Nyachae, who adamantly and completely refused to join NARC back in 2002, is today in 2005, the Chair of the Yes campaign?

Why is Njenga Karume, who abandoned Mwai Kibaki for the Uhuru Project today one of the architects that Michuki was assuring the Agikuyu is taking care of the business of protecting their ethnic interests?

Who in the ruling coalition- NAK or the LDP- wants to consolidate power in even fewer hands by expelling cabinet ministers whose only crime is in exercising the very democratic rights for which millions of Kenyans voted out KANU for?

As I have argued elsewhere, the NAK Team has been plotting and executing their civilian coup for over two years now.

Why is the anonymous scholar NOT talking about THAT????

In any case, what is suddenly so wrong about grabbing political power today?

Why did I not hear anybody berate the DP team for plotting to grab political power from KANU in 1997 and 2002?

Why do some people assume that Kenyans are so naive, so simple minded as not to see the sub-textual messages which lurk behind these nameless outpourings?

My main point is NOT to belabour the above.

What I am trying to do is expose the duplicity of those calling for the postponement of the referendum on the spurious and specious grounds that the country is "divided".


This country has been divided for a very very looooooooooong time.

It has been divided between rich and poor; it has been divided between supporters of the dictatorial status quo and pro-democracy activists; since early 2003, ethnic based cleavages have been pushed to the fore as the andu aitu NAK parvenu schemers plotted openly to impose a Mt. Kenya-centric ethnic based civilian dictatorship over millions of the very Kenyans who voted overwhelmingly for Mwai Kibaki and the rest of the National Rainbow Coalition team; since 2004 it has been divided between Kenyans who endorse the democratic consensus achieved at the end of the National Constitutional Conference at Bomas of Kenya and supporters of Mwai Kibaki who want certain ethnic communities to ride roughshod over the rest of the populace; Kenya has been divided between the supporters of political pluralism and Kibakis, Nyachaes, Koechs and Biwotts who would want to revert back to the one party era through the dubious and ILLEGAL "government of national unity".

So what is all this hypocrisy about the referendum campaign "dividing" Kenyans into Yes and No camps?

This cleavage has existed for decades!

Why did we not see the same hand-wringing in 2002 when Kenya was divided between the supporters of the Unbwogable Team and the followers of the Uhuru Project?

Did anybody say then that the election of Mwai Kibaki would "divide and tear the country apart"?

Did anyone call for the Presidential elections to be postponed?

Give us a break already!!

Who are these mealy mouthed charlatans trying to transform themselves into volunteer speed governors attempting to put a brake on the people's forward march to more democracy, more accountability, more transparency and more popular participation?

The kind of selfish and convenient "consensus" building when your side is staring at imminent defeat is really, really quite galling.

After the Zero Draft was passed at Bomas, a self-seeking group miraculously identified some "contentious issues" and started a process to seek "consensus" on these mythical contentious issues. We saw how that shady process led to the subterfuge at Naivasha and the conmanship at Kilifi which culminated in the open bribery during the voting in parliament in the wake of the three mass action days in July.

When Kenyans were cautioning that the referendum was ILLEGAL because there is no provision in the current constitution for it, the Kiraitus and the Wakos pushed through with their mutiliation of our democratic constitutional aspirations and insisted that Kenyans were going to have a referendum tupende tusipende.

Now that it is clear that the YES side cannot prevail and will not prevail at the November 21st date that they set, a section of their yellow bellied supporters have now rebaptized themselves "consensus" builders.

My stomach churns when I see people like Noah Wekesa plead for a postponement.

Wasn't Western Province supposed to a No-GO Yes Zone?

What happened to all those mythical supporters of the Wako Draft?

I am kinda proud that Mwai Kibaki is increasingly exhibiting evidence, at long last, of possessing a political backbone. I am glad that he is sticking to his word.

Perhaps like some people, including my Toronto- area buddy Miguna Miguna have posited, the President is really a closeted supporter of the NO side and cannot wait to divest himself of his arrogant Yes Men.

Onyango Oloo

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Flying Oranges, Flashing Pangas, Rising Anger & Unfinished Political Homework

Onyango Oloo Delves Into the Phenomenon of Political Violence in Kenya

As Kenyans draw closer to the November 21st rendezvous with democratic destiny- when a referendum decides whether Kenyans build on the dejure proclamation of 1982 with the endorsement of an imperial presidency, or build on the gains of December 1991 and December 2002 with another step forwards to a democratic Katiba- as we draw closer to the climax of the contest between oranges and bananas, as we veer closer to what some people see as a precipice we can fall over or a doorway we can walk through- with each new day looks like yet another Made in Kenya Ground Hog Day- another ballot box face off, another round of unbridled politicized violence.

Last Saturday 4 ministers and other lieutenants of the YES campaign were pelted with oranges and rocks by a rowdy, irate crowd in

Garissa- an incident which left several injured and scores incarcerated.

This Wednesday

a NO rally in Thika

(Some of the 14 people who appeared in a Thika court charged with preparing to commit a felony during a rally organised by the Orange team on Wednesday. Pic by Jackson Ngugi)

was disrupted when two bus loads of panga wielding, YES hooligans tried to hack their way to the dais where Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Raila Odinga and other leaders of the anti-Wako Draft campaign were seated.

Today, Thursday, September 22, 2005,

(Anti-riot policemen beat a man who had tried to disrupt a rally organised by the Orange group at the Baraza Park in Garissa Town, yesterday. A number of people were injured. Photo by Bashkash Jagsodaay. )

after another NO rally had been disrupted in Garissa, KANU Secretary General William Ruto called for the arrests and questioning of John Michuki, Kiraitu Murungi, Chris Murungaru,

Maina Kamanda and Juja MP William Kabogo alleging state interference and instigation in the acts of political hooliganism while LDP leader Raila Odinga questioned the role of a civil servant like Andrew Mullei in the Yes Campaign- even as

Kiraitu Murungi was insisting that the YES "Must Win" and Michuki was telling the Agikuyu in Mathioya:

Mugikuyu no athii akome na ang’orote atakuhura ngoro tondu thirikari ya Kibaki na Karume na aria angi nitumugitiire” (You Kikuyus can sleep soundly and let your hearts not be troubled because you have Kibaki, Karume and others protecting you).

The admission by Kiraitu, Michuki and others that they are using state coffers to fund their Yes Campaign is quite bizarre given how DP in opposition berated Moi for using tax payers' money to rig himself back to power in 1992 and 1997. It is also a bit of a misnomer for a faction of the coalition government to arrogate itself the role of the "government" unless of course they are tacitly admitting that Onyango Oloo was right in August 2003 when he predicted that this very clique was planning a civilian coup!

My former attorney should realize that one of the reasons why the civil service networks in Canada and the UK- and these are NOT perfect organisms- are lauded for their efficiency and professionalism is precisely because they assidiously stay out of partisan politics in their official capacity although they enjoy their full citizenship and civic rights as private individuals. In Ontario or Quebec for instance, you would have to guess the ideological leanings of that Ministry of Education officer or that Health and Safety Inspector that you spoke to on the phone last week. In fact their jobs are liable to be on the line should they display any overt biases. Likewise a prospective employee for the municipal, provincial or federal services can sue a hiring committee if they grill him about his or her political beliefs or voting record. For the same reason the same bureaucrat will still be doing their job no matter who is voted in or out of power. I know for certain that things are not any different in Kenya- at least in terms of policy expectations. If anything, these desperate ministers are playing with fire- are these not the same civil servants who were being clobbered only months ago when they tried to strike for better working conditions? Some of them are from the Moi era and if I was in that government of so called national unity, I would not PROVOKE civil servants further by basically ordering them to campaign for a document they may privately detest. It may very well boomerang and I am shocked at the crass display of naivete mixed with arrogance and tribal chauvinism that was on display within the Yes team today. Kiraitu Murungi is a fairly smart chap and he used to be a squeaky clean man of impeccable integrity. What happened to my once hard working and conscientious human rights lawyer? Did power get to his head? That is so sad...

These three incidents point to two persistent strains in Kenyan politics:

Machismo and organized thuggery.

In a sense, this is how we have grown up politically.

Before I came to Canada in the late 1980s, I used to assume that the very act of attending a political demonstration or rally implied donating your skull to be cracked open by rung'u wielding, tear gas lobbing riot cops engaging their “opponents” in running street battles.

What a “shock” way back when we used to huddle together with people like Abdallah Bafagih, his sister Shekha, Mohamed Ibn Yusuf, the brothers Mohammed and Omar, the late Mzee Mahmoud Adam, Adongo Ogony, Hussein “Buyuni” Jahazi, Kathure Kebaara, Julius “Marx” Tago and other founder members of the Kenya Canadian Society filling out an application to hold a demonstration either outside the US consulate just south of Dundas on University here in Toronto or the Kenyan embassy on 415 Laurier Street East in Ottawa.

The “shock” came from the fact that permit was ALWAYS granted; more than that, there were at least 4 police officers assigned to the demonstration to PROTECT the protestors and guarantee that the two hour protests started and finished peacefully. Far from battling the cops, we actually rushed to report our then ambassador Peter Nyamweya to the police the moment he took out his camera and started taking snaps of the demonstrators- many of them from the Greater Toronto Area.

Those days we could go to a demonstration confident that we would survive the peaceful expression of our political stance against the undemocratic government of Daniel arap Moi.

Of course these years (1989-1992) coincided with heightened repression and simultaneous opening up of democratic space in Kenya- Muoroto; Saba Saba ’90; the Matiba/Rubia led clamour for multi-parties; the emergence of the original FORD; the repeal of Section 2 A; the launch of FORD and its amoebic offshoots; the formation of DP; the politically motivated clashes; the dastardly activities of YK 92; the election of a slew of opposition MPs all over the country and of course the political assassinations of Bishop Muge and Dr. Robert Ouko.

It seems as if we Kenyans have allowed the violence of the state to spawn a counter violence from the masses- that saw for instance a Special Branch lynched at a FORD-Kenya rally in Nairobi in the early 1990s.

This either/or treadmill is fuelled often by machismo chest thumping often orchestrated by our respective “leaders”:

Kama ni wanaume wajitokeze tumenyane!” implying this is NOT a contest for females;

Whether it is a Dr. Bonny Khalwale inviting Andrew Ligale to a fist fight in a Kakamega bar or a Garissa NO supporter aiming an orange at the nose of John Koech or a hired Yes hooligan brandishing his brand new panga in the direction of Uhuru Kenyatta- it would appear as if all our political discourse from the state repression( the police, the chiefs, the AP, the GSU, the Special Branch) of the government of the day to the spontaneous and not so spontaneous hooliganism during the public rallies- it would appear as if we Kenyans are politically stunted by violence.

Where does this violence come from?

Ugandans, Somalis, Ethiopians, Rwandese, Sudanese, Burundians, South Africans, Angolans, Liberians, Congolese and Sierra Leonians reading this may be surprised to hear a Kenyan describe his fellow Kenyans as inherently violent- because our country has the superficial reputation as one of the most “peaceful” nations in Africa.

Frankly that is a MYTH.

Let us look at the violence against women- whether it is sexualized as rape or “domesticated” as wife battery; let us reflect on the violence by teachers against students; the violence of students against other students; the violence between communities, ethnic and otherwise; the violence of cattle rustlers and their Anti- Stock Theft Unit pursuers; the violence of competing soccer hooligans; the violence of rival matatu touts; the casual brutality of criminal home invaders; neighbourhood ngeta specialists; marauding kuzacha jewel snatchers and of course the gangsterism of opposing political factions….

And of course the state violence often exhibited by the Fanya Fujo Uone GSU, the AP, the regular police, the Flying Squad, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Prison Warders, the Chiefs, the Sub Chiefs, the PCs, the DCs, The Dos, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, MPs, Councillors, Bishops, Imams, Cult Leaders.

We do live in one of the most violent societies in the world.

How many people reading these lines have paused from lunch time window shopping in downtown Nairobi to participate in a deranged orgy of “mob justice” scrambling to smash the biggest rock on the head of a stranger fingered as “mwizi” by another stranger who may or may not be the actual culprit?

A few days ago, about three quarters of an hour past midnight, I was strolling along Bloor Street just west of Ossington with a certain young Kenyan woman friend of mine. We had just emerged from an Ethiopian eatery where we had feasted on Lamb Tibs (avoiding the Kitfo- in those injera serving restos, “rare” meat means served raw, literally dripping with fresh blood, ok?).

We struck up a conversation about the worrying escalation of violence within the Somali communities in Toronto’s west end. She had been barred by the police from entering an apartment complex because three young men had just been shot to death within that edifice- and this came in the wake of other killings earlier in the summer outside the Phoenix Theatre around the Sherbourne and Carlton area.

We talked about this upsurge in violence because it was NEW and STARTLING- Toronto for such a major North American city, is one of the most placid- a metropolis where you can roam the streets in the wee hours of the morning and expect to sleep in your bed safe and sound without accosting a single brigand. Meanwhile I can remember how worried my hosts used to be in Nairobi when I was not back home by 7:30 pm – the last time I was in Kenya in 2003.

But really, seriously:

Are Kenyans born with a “Violent Gene”?


As a practicing Marxist-Leninist I do not buy the socio-biological determinist reductionist HOGWASH that reduces complex social issues to imperfect DNA wiring.

To get a handle on the roots of the violence embedded in Kenyan society, you have to look at our history as a nation.

Two hundreds years ago Kenyans DID NOT EXIST- although the peoples who make up present day Kenya were already inhabiting many of the regions they still claim as their traditional homes today.

The creation of Kenya was an aggressive, external act of extreme political violence. In order for the British to create first the “Protectorate” and later(1920) their “Kenya Colony” they literally had to kill thousands of people, grab hundreds of thousands of hectares of communal lands; displace millions of people and force entire communities into colonial servitude via forced labour and mandatory taxation. The cultural violence of imposing Christianity and denuding us of our African traditions- the very process of claiming the territory we now know as Kenya for Queen Victoria was a horrendous act of violence. And with that act we instituted systemic state violence. The modern day police officers and chiefs learned their “trade” from the colonial askaris and chiefs. In Gem the name Odera Akango invokes an early 20th century “reformer” as well as a very brutal colonial servant... The Kenyan Armed Forces is a clone which was until barely twenty years ago led by career soldiers who had first cut their teeth in the colonial Kings African rifles. Many of the prominent public administrators after “independence”- PCs like Mathenge, Mahihu, Oyugi and Nyachae had been first employed by the kaburus; people like Hinga, Gethi and John Michuki were notorious Home Guards in one form or another.

The laws we inherited in 1963 had been colonial Ordnances put in place to stifle our people’s collective aspirations- with some being written specifically with the Mau Mau War for National Independence in mind. Those of us who were born in the early sixties had parents who could relate RECENT anecdotes of colonial whites unleashing their Alsatians onto African children.

The Kenya we became in 1963 emerged from the womb of a battered mother who had been brutalized by imperialism and colonialism.

All of us pretend to be Pretend Dr. Phil these days and there is no shortage of unsolicited psychobabble advice waiting for you at the end of the telephone line if you deign to call up a friend for a chit chat. So since we are all Dr. Phils, I am sure we are all “experts” on “violent” and so called “broken homes”- if the violence is not addressed, it will be perpetuated in that home, in that family in those individuals and their offspring.

In a macro sense, until we start asking with Chinua Achebe where the violent storms started “beating us” we will forever flail, wringing our hands and draining our bleeding hearts with consternation about our propensity for violence.

If like I am arguing, the violence flaring up at Garissa and Thika is a direct outcome of the violent colonial and neo-colonial circumstances that have so far shaped the destiny of Kenya, it follows that only a sharp departure from that imperialist, colonial and neo-colonial trajectory will lay the basis of a more peaceful, more humane, more just Kenyan society.

And you guessed it- we come full circle to the way we live, the way we govern or misgovern ourselves. If our current laws and the constitution it is based on is rooted in our colonial legacy of violent state repression and widespread violent social relations throughout the length and breadth of Kenyan society, it therefore follows that a new political dispensation will provide an impetus for that potential reality to emerge.

At this stage in our country’s political history we have reached a national consensus as nationalists, liberals, communists, social democrats, conservatives, people of faith, women, youth, elders- we have come to a national consensus that the most democratic way forward in building Kenya Tuitakayo is through a New Katiba that is Democratic and People Driven.

So it all comes back to:

Saying NO to Wako!

Rather surreal, isn’t it, how we keep coming back to that pesky Zero Draft that was passed at the conclusion of the National Constitutional Conference at Bomas of Kenya on March 15th, 2004 ama namna gani?

Onyango Oloo


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Preliminary Assessment of Tuju's New Chama

Onyango Oloo Takes A Glance at RT's Brand New Political Katoi....

First, I would like to extend a mkono wa heko to Raphael Tuju with the following words:

"Kudos for your new PPP"!

I think it is wonderful that

Raph Tuju
has formed a new political party.

Like my friend Oduor Ongwen in Nairobi, I was hoping that it would be a NATIONAL party rather than a narrowly focused, ethnic party geared towards corralling LUOS in a certain political direction.

For that, the newly fangled People's Progressive Party of Kenya immediately suffers in comparison to FORD-Kenya, FORD-People, LDP, KANU, NAK and Safina which seek members and have a mandate that covers the whole of Kenya.

In scope, objectives and reach therefore, the PPP closest equivalent is the other regional party- the Shirikisho Party at the Coast.

Let me also take umbrage at Tuju’s assertions that Luos have hitherto been herded like sheep right, left and centre.

Is that, actually a fact?

A closer examination of the actual history of Nyanza province as a region and the Luo community as a whole punctures holes in these rather sweeping remarks.

From the 1950s, there was always a lot of political diversity in Luo politics, whether at its Nyanza base or elsewhere in Nakuru, Nairobi, Mombasa and elsewhere.

To give a few examples.

Let me kick off with examples from my own immediate family.

My late uncle (in fact strictly speaking I do not know whether it is accurate in Luo terms, to call him uncle- he was married to one of my father’s older sisters) Apollo Ohanga, as we all know, was a colonial ministerial appointee who was turfed from the helm of Nyanza politics in 1957 by the more radical Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. From different political schools, they were nevertheless very civil to each other. When I met Raila in Toronto in August 2000 he told me that his family and the Ohangas grew up side by side in Kisumu and he was an age-mate of my late cousin Veronica Nyamodi whose late husband, Dr. Nyamodi was a perennial rival of the pro-Odinga Oloo Aringo.

Another of my dad’s cousins was the late Agwingu Wuod Odhek better known as

Not THIS GEM Argwings-Kodhek, a Senior Research Fellow at the Nairobi based Tegemeo Institute.

Argwings K’Odhek
for some arcane anglophilic assimilationist reason- even though the CMG appellation at the end of his name did not refer to some British royal honorary title, but rather his nickname- Chiedo More Gem. Agwingu came back from the UK as a lawyer and made his mark defending members of the Mau Mau in Nairobi. It was there he launched his national political career in the late 1950s with his own party, the Nairobi Congress Party. His rival in the same city turned out to be another young Luo, albeit of a more conservative pro-imperialist mien,

Tom Mboya who led the Nairobi Peoples Convention Party. These parties were regional only because when the British colonialists relented a bit in terms of the stringent conditions of the Emergency in 1956, they could only allow district based parties. And you will notice that at time, because of the genocidal and Gikuyuphobic policies of the same wakoloni, people from the Mount Kenya region were completely disenfranchised- in fact either living in home-guarded pro government villages if they were not languishing in the giant concentration camps and detention centres. Both men distinguished themselves as KENYAN politicians who were popular in cosmopolitan Nairobi despite their Luo ethnic origins. There was also a South Nyanza Congress Party. Again, the fact that they had different political stances did not preclude their participation in Kenyan politics.

Of course in the 1960s the biggest political rivalry involving Luo politicians had to do with
photo hosting and image hosting by

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Tom Mboya, both brilliant mobilizers and opinion leaders in their own right but veering towards opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

Ironically it was NOT Jaramogi, but Mboya who sought to vanquish his political rival and remove Oginga Odinga from the national stage.

Sadly it was to be Mboya who would be felled by an assassin hired not by Jaramogi, but by Mboya’s mentor and godfather, Jomo Kenyatta. Another irony is that Mboya was preceded to the grave by his 1950s rival from Gem, Agwingu wuod Odhek Ja Malanga who died in a tragic road accident in early 1969 in a death that many Kenyans still hold suspicious.

At the time of his death Agwingu was the Gem MP, a constituency he served from 1963 to 1969. In fact if you look at Gem politicians you will notice considerable political diversity. Here is an excerpt of an article that was first published in the Kenya Times last year:

Gem is a constituency which in the past has been represented by such luminaries as the late CMG Argwings Kodhek (1963-1969), the late Wasonga Sijeyo (1969) Omollo Okero, Owitti Ongili, Otieno Ambala, Grace Ogot and Joe Donde.

Sijeyo, a former Kanu Senator for Nakuru District at independence won the Gem seat in a by election following the death of Argwings - Kodhek in a road accident in April 1969. But Sijeyo did not last for long. He was in the same year arrested along with other KPU MPs and detained for several years following the disturbances in Kisumu during which the late President Jomo Kenyatta’s motorcade was stoned by the radical KPU youths.

The by-election which followed was won by the current chairman of the Kenya Airways Mr. Isaac Omolo Okero, who retained his seat in the 1974 and 1979 general elections respectively. Okero lost the seat to the late Aggrey Otieno-Ambala in 1983. Ambala served only one term before he was trounced by the late Owiti Ongili who won the seat in 1988. After Owiti’s grisly murder in Siaya town, Mrs Grace Ogot who by then was a nominated Kanu MP resigned her parliamentary seat and successfully contested the by-election that followed.

Mrs Ogot who served in the Moi government as an assistant minister had her term disrupted and cut short following the clamour for multiparty democracy which saw politicians allied to the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his Ford – Kenya Party sweep the board (the late Oki Ooko Ombaka won the seat).

Even though sidelined by voters, Mrs Ogot left behind an enviable track record of development in Gem. She lost the seat to Ooko Ombaka in the first multiparty election of 1992.

Joe Donde’s performance in Parliament ( 1997-2002) was another remarkable achievement particularly his popular but contentious Donde Bill. In the year 1997 Donde retained the seat on a Ford Kenya ticket, but this time not under Jaramogi, but under the late Wamalwa Kijana. NDP failed to produce a credible candidate to challenge Donde.

The topsy turvy fortunes of politicians in Gem alone rubbish the notion that Luo people are like sheep. Okero and Mrs. Ogot were staunch pro KANU figures throughout their terms-and they also happen to be my relatives. Okero like Ombaka and Agwingu and

Prof. Ogot to whom the

former Gem MP is married are all members of the dominant Kagola clan to which I also belong- which demonstrates that the same clan can produce right wing neo-colonial apparatchiks (Okero, Ogot); social democratic lawyers (Ombaka) and unrepentant communists (Onyango Oloo).

There is remarkable political sophistication, internal dissent and diversity within the Kenyan Luo community whose members are to be found in each and every province in the country and therefore can not be seen as an unvariegated monolith with a monochromatic political vision.

The careers of two other Luo politicians- lawyer James Orengo and Prof. Anyang’ Nyongo (especially in the 1997-2002 parliament) also serve as a rebuff to Tuju’s contention that Luos are herded right, left and centre like sheep.

Many people have told me that Raphael Tuju owes his political existence NOT to his popularity at the Rarieda grass roots where he apparently lost hands down to a more popular opponent during the NARC nominations, but to his pocket book and the same Raila connections that he is today deriding. To put it bluntly, he was rigged in following a nod from the LDP top brass.

So perhaps he could be referring to his own recent and continuing history of being a beneficiary of this or that political god father.

Far from being an "independent" move, the launch by Raphael Tuju of his PPP is a nod to the reality that he has merely changed political masters. He now calls

Mwai Kibaki his "father". To me, any politician who still needs a "father" or a "mother" still has some growing up to do.

I am a bit disappointed and surprised actually that Raphael Tuju did not aim higher. He is someone who had a national appeal as one of the most recognized and photogenic broadcasters in decades past and a successful tycoon today. Why did he not attempt to cut a national swathe- rather than troop to Kisumu and surround himself with a bunch of Luo political has beens for a photo-op?

His move is a paradoxical one for someone so high profile in the NAK brains trust. One of the things the Kiraitus, Mugos, Kirwas, Mwakweres, Dzoros and Kibwanas have been berating Raila and the LDP with is their breakaway retention of party independence at a time when some forces in the ruling formation want NARC to morph from a 14 party coalition into a single entity registered as a political party. Why is Tuju splintering the NARC family further?

What is even more interesting is to see Tuju’s party being registered at a time when the registrar is threatening to strike off the Official Opposition- KANU itself from its own records. It comes a year after the same registrar refused to register the Mwananchi Party leading me to make charges of political favouritism.

My own preliminary analysis of the PPP is that it is actually not a party, but a Nyanza platform that the NAK government has launched to fight Raila Odinga in his so called home turf- even though the LDP linchpin is actually a Nairobi MP.

The PPP will fizzle and die, not because of any concerted hostility from the LDP, but more because it will be seen, rightly so as a conduit to divide and conquer the Luo community, an outfit that will be linked to tribal cabals in Central Kenya rather than with a genuine grass roots mobilization in Nyanza.

The timing of the PPP launch was simply ghastly- smack in the middle of the Referendum Campaign which leads me to question the sincerity of the move. Surely at a time when Kenyan politics is so charged, so polarized, this was hardly the time to spike passions even further by unleashing what is seen as a financially well-oiled conduit for the Yes campaign.

Raphael Tuju should go and visit the political graves of some living politicians like Odongo Omamo and some expired ones like Matthews Ogutu and contemplate why none of the millions of Kaliech were able to stave off ignominious defeat at the polls when the political tide started to turn.

Had I been in Tuju’s inner circle, I would have taken a different route. Since I am not in his inner circle I am not going to outline, leave alone detail that route.

You know what:

I have been wrong many times when it comes to this business of political forecasting, but I never steer away from the challenge of making bold pronouncements. It is quite likely that the PPP will be the next Big Thing in Kenya. I think not.

Tuju’s cardinal mistake, like Orengo’s in 2002 lies not so much in his political choices which he has a constitutional right to, but rather his total misreading of the popular mood. Sooner or later it will dawn on the Rarieda MP that it does not matter how many mobile clinics you have brought to how many villages- if you do not have your finger on the pulse of the national mood, you will be swept away by the people’s forward march.

Right now the mood in the country is one of anger, a bitter sense of betrayal; people are pissed off at Kibaki and those around him because Kibaki betrayed that tumultuous Unbwogable Spirit that swept him to power.

The NAK team, in their arrogance has plainly told the Kenyan people to their faces that they think the wananchi are stupid and will vote for anything the government asks them to vote for. Such arrogance and contempt for the intelligence of the people will be severely punished, first at the upcoming referendum and later during the 2007 elections.

Politicians from the Ford-Kenya and Ford-People fold can already feel this palpable seething resentment against the incumbent government and that is why you see them dithering between Yes and NO, hoping there is a Maybe slot on the same referendum ballot paper.

Kibaki, Michuki, Mwiraria, Kiraitu, Karume may try to play the Mount Kenya Tribal Card, but I would suggest that this is a very serious and expensive gamble with the lives of millions of Kenyans who live in the Central and Eastern province, the Rift Valley, Nairobi and indeed every major Kenyan urban centre. Why are the andu aitu tribalists setting up entire ethnic communities from the slopes of Mt Kenya to widespread national hatred?

After releasing the Mkabila Djinni from the bottle, will these NAK schemers put it back?

For Raphael Tuju, Morris Dzoro, Kivutha Kibwana, Kipruto Kirwa, Simeon Nyachae, Musikari Kombo, Moody Awori, Maalim Mohamed and Mukhisa Kituyi to then latch on to this parochial ethnic agenda of myopic domination is a testimony to their selfish callousness- to save their own ministerial backsides, they are prepared to help provoke open ethnic conflagration that may consume millions of Kenyans in an inferno worse than Rwanda.

Raphael Tuju like I said a long time ago, cut his own political throat a long time ago when he decided that in order for him to rise on the national political stage, he had to pull down the colossus from Langata and Bondo.

That was a rather daft political decision.

Onyango Oloo

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