Dodging the harried bus drivers around Moi Avenue, I walked past the visitors idling by the Tom Mboya statue which is fast becoming a national shrine, zipping past the Zeep pub, risking my life by daring to cross at the zebra crossing just ahead of the Dedan Kimathi statue erected at the foot of the avenue going by the same name; pausing to screen the fading headlines of that day’s newspapers spread on the pavement in front of Corner House, walking parallel to the International House where the sixth floor offices of the Centre for Multi Party Democracy can be found, scanning the Trans National building where William Ruto’s AMACO insurance company resides, next to Nairobi Java House-the Kenyan answer to Starbucks-all this on a street named after Uhuru Kenyatta’s mother decades back; when his then ubiquitous bearded greying dad ruled Kenya with a fly whisk embedded in his iron fist.
Peering ahead of me, I spy one of my street smart broker and almost always broke pal, standing slightly away from this politically fueled madding crowd, legs akimbo, on Wabera street in front of what used to be the offices of the defunct Akamba Bus Company diagonally opposite La Trattoria restaurant.
He beckons at me.
Why are you not in the thick of things I ask him.
Usually, he would be the person jabbing the air, gesticulating, holding fort and forth, hammering his points home.
One of his friends from Umoja, in the city’s east end, he tells me, went through a similar ordeal.
He is about to shower me with a flurry of choice swear words. He abruptly stops and literally covers his mouth.
The owner of this joint which boasts it sells the most amount of beer across the entire country compared to the other outlets on a daily basis; the owner of Simmers just got elected MP in one of those counties in the western part of the country.
He has another friend, a former boss of mine when I served a short stint as political editor in a weekly that has since folded, who was also elected MP on the ticket that the former deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi sought the presidency.
Many of my buddies are already here, glued to the 7 pm televised news while carrying on a lively banter on the burning issues of the day.
They ask me to join them at their table near the stage where soon a local based Congolese band will try their best to imitate the likes of Fally Ipupa, Ferre Gola, Werra Son, Papa Wemba and Kofi Olomide.
There is a lot of back and forth.
“Supreme Court Justice So and So has been BOUGHT. I saw him with my own two eyes having lunch TODAY with (name withheld) at the Crowne Plaza. I am sure he was being given billions in gunias to look the other way.”
Another voice chimes in earnestly.
He was a couple of years ahead of me. A veteran of the left leaning clandestine groups, December Twelve Movement and Mwakenya, with his head covered in grey, he still declaims like the militant Communist he was in the early eighties.
A much younger man, a jaded journalist with post modernist illusions working with one of the dailies angrily dismisses the aging Marxist-Leninist.“Remember what Gheorgi Dimitrov of Bulgaria taught us: Fascism has to be FOUGHT and PREVENTED before it COMES TO POWER. Do not wait for the secret police to come hauling you away in handcuffs.”
“Omera, you must FINALLY EMERGE from the UNDERGROUND. It is almost half a century since you left Naivasha Maximum Security Prison. Did you get the memo that Daniel arap Moi retired? We have a new Constitution remember? Who would be that foolish?”
But for a while we were transfixed to the news coverage of Mwai Kibaki's farewell party staged by the head honchos of the Kenya Defence Forces.
It was quite the occassion, as you can see from the images below:
It looks like the Uhuruto tag team are not wasting any time in getting their hands on the levers of state power. Mr. Kenyatta is already acting Presidential complete with his heavy duty security detail and outriders. A few days ago he got a high profile briefing from senior state bureaucrats on how to handle the transition to the highest office in the land.
I am made to understand that one of the key briefings Mr. Kenyatta received was from a top secret position paper titled, Executive Summary: Issues Arising from the Implementation of the Office of the President Act.
The 11-page document has 12 points: (i) Determination of the Architecture of the New Government where the President Elect is advised to put in writing the number of ministries and departments guided by Articles 135, 131 and 150 of the 2010 Constitution which confers on him Executive powers to make this determination; (ii) Designation of Ministries and Departments in which there is a recommendation to consider ministries as departments; (iii) when it comes to applying for positions of Principal Secretaries among which is the recommendation that Permanent Secretaries should assume the powers and functions of Principal Secretaries in the interim and that the current Head of the Public Service should assume the role of Secretary to the Cabinet. There are other points but the gist of the recommendations is that the President Elect's first major administrative act should be to appoint that person who will be the effective head of the public service. In the meantime, until the new President is sworn in, all the members of the Grand Coalition Government Executive, including the President, the Prime Minister, the Vice President and the outgoing ministers should remain in office with the ministers effectively de facto Cabinet Secretary.
This may be a minor, even moot bureaucratic detail, until you remember how skewed in terms of power balance the Grand Coalition regime was with all the plum and powerful cabinet positions being hogged by Kibaki's faction including the portfolios of Finance, Defence, Internal Security, Foreign Affairs etc, the so called "Harambee Avenue ministries" as opposed to the "Community Hill" dockets, so named because of their locations with the former in geographic proximity to the Office of the President.
It was not altogether accidental that CORD supporters who showed up outside the Supreme Court on Saturday were tear gassed with one person even being shot by the police. Some reliable sources told me that the order came within the top echelons of the public service who have abrogated the role of being the "Government". The fact that the cops were attacking supporters of the sitting Prime Minister who effectively coordinates all ministries and the public service speaks volumes of the depth of contempt that these "Government" mandarins reserve for Raila Odinga and his wing of the Grand Coalition. Does the Inspector General know that he has no powers whatsoever to violate the constitution by allegedly "banning" demonstrations and other acts of democratic protests deeply enshrined in Kenya's supreme law of the land? Somebody should haul his ass to court pronto.
Hi, interesting msge on accepting 'elected leaders' in da name of democracy, not God, from Kibaki. Why da militry parade now? Is he crossing da t, dotting da i, on da coup?I too, pondered and wondered at the effusive pomp and splendour in an almost deserted martial event.
I have been asking myself too, why the sustained fury against some sections of Kenyan civil society as can be seen from the organogram below that I lifted from Facebook:
The following countries and institutions are waging a form of legal warfare — called lawfare — against Kenya’s electoral results and the winning team.There have been three swift responses to the scurrilous piece by Mr. Kimalel.
The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, the UK’s DfID; the Embassy of Finland; the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kenya; German’s GIZ; and UNDP’s Amkeni Wakenya Programme.
They almost wholly fund the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCog), a civil society group that unsuccessfully sued the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to stop the vote tally following the General Election, and now is part of a civil society lawsuit to nullify the results of the presidential poll.
He who pays the piper calls the tune. Lawfare is the use of the law as a weapon to achieve geostrategic or political ends, and consists of the manipulation of domestic legal systems by State and non-State actors to implement laws inconsistent with the general principles of sovereignty.
The refusal of AfriCog’s funders to congratulate the president-elect, and the “essential contact” statements by European envoys prior to the election, tell the tale.
That tale has to do with Europe’s position on the ICC cases against Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto, which is being represented as a principled stand for international law and for the victims of Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008.
That may have been believable in the early days of the ICC but no longer. The African Union and its members, and others in the international community now realise that the ICC may initially have been a well-intentioned attempt to increased human rights accountability globally but, sadly, it is now a form of lawfare against the sovereignty of African countries.
In a world filled with atrocity and the abuse of power by the most powerful — often with Western backing — only Africans have been brought to the ICC dock.
Now with European envoys directly willing to comment to the media about a foreign country’s elections — itself a rare, almost unprecedented happening outside Kenya — it is clear that the ICC cases, whatever their merits, are being used to determine Kenya’s electoral landscape.
Our envoy friends from the UK, France and Switzerland, speaking as they claimed for the EU, and America’s (isolated) Johnnie Carson, extend the historical interference in African affairs.
Since the end of the Cold War, much of the interference has been steered through what in Kenya is called civil society but is actually a movement of privileged local elites fully funded by foreign states.
Many of them issue a vague leftist rhetoric, whose hypocrisy is revealed by the fact that their expensive rents in leafy suburbs are paid for by foreign entities that are the geo-political soldiers of global capital. Not surprisingly, the AfriCog board includes Maina Kiai, John Githongo, Gladwell Otieno, and, formerly, Duncan Okello, who quit to become Chief Justice Mutunga’s chief of staff.
People who pose as warriors for justice and human rights, but who, as can be seen by AfriCog’s funding and actions, are part of a vanguard that, deliberately or not, whether from cynical self-interest or naivety, fronts Western interests in Kenya.
See the AfriCog website (http://www.africog.org/content/funders-and-financials) to see how these principled positions in a Kenyan court are being paid for by foreign interests.
To be a sovereign country is a precious right in a global system of powerful state actors that seek to control their weaker counterparts. Self-rule, independence, non-alignment during the Cold War, and pan-Africanism were what Kenya’s struggle for independence was about.
But Western powers are in the forefront of propping up dictators and then pushing for their deposing through regime change politics and military invasion.
Kenya is not in a similar league with these countries in geo-strategic terms. But it is still important as a country in which European interests and double-standards can be fully rooted if there is a pliable government.
Kenya is where the West can be “moral” even while it supports nearby countries that are authoritarian and chronic abusers of human rights, with hardly a word in protest from Kenya’s funded “civil society”, even though many of its dashiki-wearing leaders in private dub each other “progressives” opposed to imperialism.
In the Marxist days of yore, there was a group of people in countries like Kenya that was called the comprador bourgeoisie. They were part of an indigenous national elite that was materially allied with foreign multinationals and military interests.
Today, their descendants are part of the NGO sector that utilises the precious territory of human rights, justice and democracy to advance the positions of the same old global power.
AfriCog’s lawsuits may be filed by Kenyans, but they are little more than Trojan horses for the Open Society Institute, local UNDP staff, and the British, Dutch, Finnish and German governments.
Hopefully, AfriCog’s board will honestly appraise its hopelessly compromised position and future governments will take steps to halt this deep penetration of Kenyan democracy by foreign interests.
The first is from the Swiss Ambassador to Kenya Jacques Pitteloud:
In a democratic society like Kenya’s, it is certainly anyone’s right to express an opinion about political events. The beauty of Democracy is that even unadulterated nonsense is covered by Freedom of Speech.
But repeat a blatant lie often enough and you will create a narrative which, if not tackled early, might inflict substantial harm on civil liberties.
That is why the opinion piece “Foreign Interests Funding Civil Society to Compromise Kenya’s Sovereignty” by a Mr. James Kimalel (The Nation, March 19th) begs for a clear and urgent answer.
It is not, as one might think, that the Swiss Ambassador takes issue with a “political scientist” depicting my country as a party to the EU-conspiracy against Kenya (for your information, Switzerland and Swaziland are not members of the European Union, but maybe the writer meant Sweden).
Joke aside, one wonders who is paying the numerous pipers who have taken to vilifying civil society in the press and on the social media since the election campaign started a couple of months ago. It would be quite interesting to know why people who were instrumental in making the “Second Liberation” possible are suddenly depicted by Mr. Kimalel as serving undefined, dark foreign interests. I also struggle to understand how, in serious political science, “dashiki-wearing people with vague leftist rethoric” can suddenly turn into “geo-political soldiers of global capital”. Just wondering.
The opinion piece claims that my country (amongst others) is waging war by other means against the Republic of Kenya. That is, diplomatically speaking, quite a strong assertion. So let me be crystal clear about a couple of facts:
Yes, even a comparatively small European country like mine does have interests in Kenya. We would like this Nation to be prosperous, peaceful, stable and democratic. Kenya, as the major East African hub, is absolutely pivotal in determining the fate of a whole region. Even in the most foolish conspiracy theories, nobody has an interest in seeing a destabilized Kenya plunging into lawlessness.
We have thus supported civil society in its efforts to promote accountability and freedom, to fight corruption and impunity. We have also supported the efforts of the Government of Kenya to allay the sufferings of starving Kenyans during the drought. Countless Swiss NGO’s do work tirelessly since decades to make health, education or vocational training available and affordable to Kenyan children. Quite an “attack on Kenya’s sovereignty”, this is.
If, as the writer claims, this is our way of being “allied with foreign multinationals and military interests”, let me then plead guilty as charged.
Unsubstantiated accusations hinting darkly at undefined foreign conspiracies are to be taken for what they really are: as an attempt to justify the curtailing of civil liberties Kenyans have fought so hard for. There was a time in Kenyan history when paid pipers would routinely attack foreign envoys and civil society activists for being the spearheads of a global conspiracy against the will of the Kenyan people (remember: that “popular will” was expressed by a very peculiar voting system).But these days are gone forever. A strong, modern and sovereign country like Kenya does not need to silence critical voices. Hate speech against human rights defenders will not work. Kenya has come of age.
UNDP wishes to make some important clarifications on Mr. James Kimalel’s opinion piece, published in the Nation Newspaper edition of 19th March 2013 and, which claims that UNDP, through its Amkeni Wakenya Civic Society programme, is funding civil society efforts aiming to compromise Kenya’s sovereignty.
UNDP neither funded nor provided any assistance whatsoever to the Presidential Election petition submitted by Gladwell Wathoni Otieno and Zahid Rajan to the Supreme Court of Kenya and would not do so under any circumstances. Nor did UNDP provide such assistance to any other Civil Society Organization to that effect.
Amkeni Wakenya is a civil society facility aimed at carrying out voter education programs targeted at rural communities and disadvantaged members of society. Through this facility, UNDP is funding Africog in a limited manner to support its activities in advocacy and research to bolster accountability within Kenya’s devolved system of Governance.
During the election period, Amkeni Wakenya carried out civic education programmes for almost one million citizens in 27 counties. This process was implemented in partnership with 50 Civil Society Organizations with very strong grassroots presence. UNDP believes that this civic education work significantly contributed to enhanced voter awareness during the elections.
As an impartial and neutral development partner, bound by the principles, charters and values of the United Nations, UNDP is committed to supporting the people of Kenya as the country moves forward on a path of peace, stability and development.
Equally shameful is the poisonous drivel slushing through the radioactive caves and catacombs of Kenya’s social media. There is a full-blooded attempt to delegitimise free expression, free association and the legitimate engagement of the judicial process in the name of protecting Kenya’s “sovereignty”; all in very rascally fashion.
Under this project those who, using the constitution, question the constitutional integrity of the March 4, 2013 elections are besmirched as “evil society”. Although a petition challenging the validity of presidential elections is provided for under Article 140, it tarnishes as an attack on Kenya’s sovereignty the constitutional question whether the management of these elections by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) passed muster as required by Articles 81 and 86 of the constitution.
Has the constitution been overthrown barely two years since its promulgation? It would seem so, if this campaign to criminalise hard-won freedoms is allowed to go unchallenged. This campaign is clothed in the garb of nationalism and patriotism: that those who speak out and demand transparency and accountability are really stooges of the West and out to overturn Kenya’s sovereignty.
This is hogwash of premier league proportions. It is clear that dissent is part of protected expression and action under the Bill of Rights; provided for in chapter 4 of the 2010 constitution. These rights are not borrowed from the leadership: past, present or future; neither are they enjoyed at the behest or pleasure of those who are in power. They are inherent, inalienable, indivisible, interrelated and universal. Only by carefully crafted legal provisions that strictly conform to the constitution can human rights be limited or abrogated.
Knowing this, the attempt is then not to undermine our rights through the use of known legal device: rather, it is to whip up antipathy against those who dare think or dream differently from those wielding power - using nationalistic jingoism, or “patriotism”. However, if care is not taken, this will seriously boomerang; “for patriotism, is indeed, a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.” And which successful nation has ever been built using narrow minds or mind-sets?
The consequence of ceding Kenyans’ rights to this carefully choreographed political maneuvering is dangerously grave: Kenya’s nascent democracy will swiftly revert to the paleontological era of dynastic rule. It will be back to the oppressive, repressive and regressive democratically pre-historic age of the rule of the mighty, by the mighty, and for the mighty. The rest of us will surely be damned!
The warning from the past about this form of rule is stark: it consumes not just those of us who wish to hold it to account, but also its own defenders, offspring and children. The story is told of the late Achieng Oneko, as Minister for Information and Broadcasting in post-independent Kenya but formerly one of the Kapenguria Six that included Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei and Jomo Kenyatta. Irked by a question from journalist Alastair Matheson, Oneko responded: “Matheson, you must never forget we never closed the detention camps after independence.” (Matheson had been key to organising the April 1961 international press conference for Jomo Kenyatta during his detention in Maralal). Oneko was to later be detained by Jomo Kenyatta for six years using the pretext of cracking down on the political activities of the Kenya Peoples Union (KPU).
Even closer in history, who will forget the late John Michuki stating soon after the NARC takeover of power from Moi-Kanu in 2003 that there was no need any more for constitutional overhaul and reform since President Kibaki was now in power? The lack of adequate and unequivocal constitutional protection would be used by Michuki some years later to, in early 2006, preside over the raid at the Standard Media Group’s offices.
The point being made here is this: we cannot allow our leaders however popular, charismatic and friendly to wield over us such powers that they can do with us as they whimsically and arbitrarily desire or wish. It was Thomas Paine who warned that freedom is like a forest; chop it down and you will then be hopelessly vulnerable to all the elements.
We will also quickly discover that, although methods may vary and have varied through the ages, the content of dictatorship, totalitarianism or autocracy is consistent. This virulent vituperation of civil society is coming from a notorious supporter of Uhuru Kenyatta; and only a single Supreme Court ruling away from a new dispensation where President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta may be handed the reins of power.
Is it reading too much to recall Uhuru’s call to obedience: “All of us should follow our muthamaki (great leader) Kibaki...I want to tell all the leaders here that if any one of them fails to toe the line, they should know that their politics is over. If Kibaki tells us to go to the left, we should do so, just like Ruto tells his people to go one way and they all do so.”
How uncannily similar is this from the sentiments of founding President Jomo Kenyatta who at the zenith of his powers in November 1969 warned dissenters, “We will crush you like flour. Anyone who toys with our progress will be crushed like locusts.”
Clearly the trick is not in whether the system is Jurassic, Analogue or Digital. It is whether embedded into is an operating system that observes and respects human rights and justice, and fulfils and promotes the rule of law and accountability. Any one telling you different is selling you a constitutional doughnut: hollow on the inside, fluffy on the outside. Be warned!
Macharia Gaitho in his Sunday Nation column titled, Security team bent on silencing dissenting voices added his voice of concern:
The statement released late on Wednesday night by Public Service Head Francis Kimemia might have seemed like a routine advisory, but it signalled an impending crackdown on dissenting voices.That an urgent meeting of the National Security Advisory Council can be called late in the night to address ‘increasing tension’ would suggest an imminent threat to national security.On closer scrutiny, however it emerges that the ‘threat’ necessitating an emergency late-night meeting was not the danger of a major new terrorist attack, a military invasion by a neighbouring country or the outbreak of major civil strife.
The threat lay in the impasse over the presidential election results after the Cord alliance candidate, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, challenged in court the electoral commission’s verdict that the winner was Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta who contested on the Jubilee coalition ticket.
Despite Mr Odinga taking the initiative to call off the rallies, Mr Kimemia still found it fit to call a late-night session of the security committee to address a supposed emergency.
A statement that came out of the meeting, released by government spokesman Muthui Kariuki, came up with a raft of measures to address the supposed security threat, most notably a blanket ban on processions and rallies organised by the PM.
Considering that Mr Odinga had already cancelled his planned rallies, it appears the intention of the tough warning was to signal to the public that it was the security committee that had forced him to back down.
The badly-crafted statement read, in part: “Such meetings could obsolete (sic) gains made from the peaceful conduct of elections which demonstrated to the world that Kenya’s democracy had matured and investors were already releasing investment capital”.
Another intention of the message was to send the signal that Mr Odinga was Prime Minister in name only; that he was no longer part of the command structure that was now reporting to President-elect Kenyatta irrespective of the fact that a Supreme Court decision was awaited to determine the electoral outcome.
In direct reference to the court hearing, the government statement issued a stern warning to Mr Odinga’s supporters, referring to them as “idle, noisy mobs congregating outside Supreme Court of Kenya…any attempts to disrupt, discredit or intimidate the Courts, IEBC or other institutions of the State will not be tolerated.”
But as Mr Kimemia was issuing this warning, it was clear that he chose to ignore a move to intimidate the Judiciary by Mr Kenyatta’s supporters.
This was in the form of a public campaign on social media targeting Justice Mutunga and other Supreme Court judges the Kenyatta camp is apparently nervous about.
After the election petition was filed, bloggers and social media activists known to work for the Kenyatta campaign machine under the ‘Team Uhuru’ banner started posting on social media a harsh campaign seemingly aimed at setting the ground for a move to force the CJ out of the case on grounds that he was close to Mr Odinga, and to civil society groups that had filed their own petition.
The main evidence’ was past remarks by Mr Mutunga, before he joined the Judiciary, expressing admiration for Mr Odinga.
The campaign also drew links between Mr Mutunga and various key players in civil society groups dating back to his time as founder-director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and later as a key local official of the Ford Foundation.
The intention was to place the Chief Justice at the centre of what was projected as a grand conspiracy involving western nations and their development agencies operating in Kenya together with major civil society groups that have benefited from funding.
The online campaign soon moved to the mainstream newspapers with a series of Opinion articles in the past week echoing the same theme.
What caught suspicion, however, was that most of the articles were reaching the newspapers through circuitous routes, but ultimately were traceable to the same grouping of operatives serving as media liaisons for political campaigns. In tone, style and content they were remarkably similar, almost as if written by the same person. The biggest giveaway was that they were nearly all written under fictitious names.
All claimed in similar fashion that the petitions against Mr Kenyatta’s electoral victory were inspired by western countries through local civil society groups; that the CJ had close links to such groups and was a known admirer of Mr Odinga; and therefore must be removed from the Supreme Court panel that will hear the election petition.
Some of the social media postings went further to demand the removal of Justice Jackton B Ojwang’ on claims that his wife was associated with ODM. Others listed the judges ‘suitable’ to hear the petition.
Speaking of Uhuru Kenyatta and the Presidency there is this interesting article from Foreign Policy magazine:
Later on, after I had clambered aboard the matatu to my Eastlands abode I replayed the conversations from Simmers over and over again in my perturbed mind.For now, Uhuru Kenyatta is the president-elect of Kenya. On Saturday, March 9, after a week of suspense following voting, he bested his main rival and former boss, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who's challenging the results in court (and now claims, without furnishing much evidence, that he won). This is causing a lot of handwringing among allies of Kenya's who make human rights a centerpiece of their foreign policies, because Kenyatta is facing trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the violent wake of the last election, in 2007, ICC prosecutors allege, Kenyatta helped organize death squads.
Before this election, U.S. and European officials let out vague minatory noises about what would be done if Kenyatta won. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson warned, in what may have been the most embittering and most meaningless phrase of the campaign, that "choices have consequences." Kenyans have chosen. Now those consequences have to be defined. What they may entail, beyond making a point of not phoning Kenyatta to congratulate him, no one has said publically, but it's commonly agreed that the situation is unprecedented. The West has had to deal with reprobates already in power, but never has it suffered the anxiety of watching a man accused of crimes against humanity run for and then win the highest office in a friendly nation (and with British counsel). The journalist Steve Coll wrote in the New Yorker that "Kenyatta might well become the first democratically elected alleged criminal on that scale in history."That's not entirely true. A quarter-century ago, the United States and Europe faced a similar diplomatic tribulation. This one, closer to home, involved Nazis. Peculiarly Mitteleuropean though it was in tone, it provides an instructive precedent for what might be called "The Kenyatta Affair."In 1986, Kurt Waldheim ran for the presidency of Austria. Waldheim, who'd served as his country's foreign minister and then secretary general of the United Nations, was vain and unburdened by excessive intelligence (he once used his U.N. diplomatic pouch to send soft American toilet paper back to Europe) but otherwise seemed innocuous. Austrians, and most of the rest of the world, believed he came with a reasonably clean bill of history. Waldheim had always maintained that after Germany's 1938 annexation of Austria, he'd been conscripted into the army, sent to the eastern front, invalided by a grenade, discharged, and then returned to Vienna, where he sat out the remainder of hostilities studying law and rubbing his shattered ankle. He claimed he'd never even bothered to join the National Socialist party. (To see how well-practiced the story was, watch this 1974 television interview.)But for years, rumors circulated that Waldheim was lying. In the U.N. archives sat a file, opened by its War Crime Commission in 1948, which said that Waldheim was connected with a massacre of prisoners in the Balkans and was wanted there for war crimes. The file was mysteriously closed when Waldheim considered running for a third term as secretary general in 1980. As he readied his presidential bid in Austria six years later, however, the file reappeared, along with other files from other archives indicating that Waldheim had not just been a Nazi, but one hell of a Nazi. He'd joined a Nazi youth organization three weeks after the Anschluss, then the Brownshirts, and then served on the staff of a general involved in the Final Solution, who was later hanged in Belgrade. In addition to the Balkans massacre, for which Waldheim was decorated, he was, the evidence indicated, involved in the deportations of Greek Jews.The first people to connect the dots were Waldheim's opponents in Austria's Socialist party. They contacted a Vienna magazine, which printed the revelations. No one in Austria much cared. So the World Jewish Congress, an international advocacy organization, sent its general counsel to Vienna to investigate, and he brought his findings to the New York Times. Confronted by the paper, Waldheim slipped into the exculpatory-yet-incriminating ungrammar that would constitute his responses to the allegations for the rest of his life. "I regret these things most deeply," he told the reporter, and "it is really the first that I hear that such things happened."What transpired next still astounds. Waldheim's opponents assumed that their exposures would provoke international condemnation and force Waldheim to drop out of the race (the World Jewish Congress gave him three days to fold). They were half right. Countries from Canada to Britain got in a lather. But they underestimated Waldheim's glibness, and overestimated the national conscience. His opponents failed to appreciate that Austrians, Hitler's real Landsmänner, had never seen the point in the paroxysms of guilt suffered by his adopted countrymen the Germans. Many Austrian politicians of Waldheim's generation had been proud Nazis, some with more appalling résumés than his. The president of parliament, Friedrich Peter, had served in an S.S. extermination unit and had probably personally killed hundreds. As late as the 1980s, Austria was lousy with Hitler nostalgists. These weren't thugs in black nylon and crew-cuts, either, but everyday people, the satisfied children of historian Daniel Goldhagen's willing executioners, if not the executioners themselves. In 2010, I interviewed Neal Sher, who was at the time of the Waldheim Affair, as it came to be known, the chief prosecutor in the Office of Special Investigations, the U.S. Justice Department division that investigates war criminals. Sher recalled a pair of old Austrian women who, having seen his picture in the newspaper, approached him in a Vienna café. He smiled and greeted them. "Judenschweine!" they hissed back.
Waldheim's campaign managers, on the other hand, understood Austria perfectly. Even while he denied the charges, they designed campaign posters that looked like National Socialist propaganda. They warned crowds of a Jewish plot emanating from New York. (At the same time, because of his years at the U.N., Waldheim chose as his campaign theme song "New York, New York.") It worked. The Socialists realized that every time they brought up the war, they didn't win voters, but lost them. Someone, maybe from Waldheim's campaign, maybe just a fed-up citizen, posted flyers announcing "We Austrians Will Vote For Whom We Want!"
Nor was the indignation limited to nationalists. In her account of the Waldheim Affair in the New Yorker, Jane Kramer recorded that the mother of the magazine journalist who exposed Waldheim -- a resistance fighter interred at Auschwitz -- actually voted for Waldheim, because "of the hypocrisy of the whole campaign" against him. Jews voted for Waldheim, too, including, probably, Bruno Kreisky, the popular chancellor who had included Holocaust-collaborators such as Peter in his government. Kreisky was the soul of pragmatism: if he excluded competent one-time Nazis from posts, he pointed out, he wouldn't have much to work with. Kreisky was also tired of hearing about the past, just as most Austrians, including Jews, were tired of hearing about the past -- just as most Kenyans are tired of it today. (And if they had to hear about it, they certainly didn't want to hear about it from the Americans, who in the late 1940s, it was well known, had recruited Nazis, including some prominent Austrians, to use against the Soviets.) No less than Nazi-hunter Simon Weisenthal came to Waldheim's defense.
Waldheim won the presidency handily. This presented a headache in Washington, which, it was easy to forget, he'd often gone out of his way to help. In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, he'd acted as a shuttle between Israel, Egypt, the White House, and the Kremlin (eliciting from Henry Kissinger the most un-Kissingerian sentence of his career: "Thank god for the United Nations"). In 1979, Waldheim had flown to Tehran to try to negotiate the release of American hostages, and for his troubles was abused by the Ayatollah's drudges.
Unluckily for him, however, World War II was an inviolable canon for then president Ronald Reagan. (Unlike Waldheim, he hadn't fought in it.) When the Justice Department reached its conclusions -- that Waldheim had "assisted or participated in the transfer of civilian prisoners to the SS for exploitation as slave labor, the mass deportation of civilians to concentration and death camps" and "the utilization of anti-Semitic propaganda; the mistreatment and execution of Allied prisoners; and reprisal executions of hostages and other civilians" -- Reagan, whose sense of humor was always undervalued, did two things: He sent Waldheim a congratulatory note on winning the election; then he added his name to a list of people barred from entering the United States.
It was the strongest international rebuke. Israel merely recalled its ambassador. Nevertheless, Moscow denounced the Washington-Zionist axis, as did Arab League nations; never particularly interested in Austria before, they now extended effusive invitations to Waldheim. Pope John Paul II not only met with Waldheim but, bizarrely, conferred on him a papal knighthood. He was followed by Vaclav Havel, who, as usual, stole the show. Invited by Waldheim to address the Salzburg Festival in 1990, the Czech president agreed, defying a tacit boycott of Austria by European leaders. Havel spoke on the redemptive powers of confronting one's past.
Waldheim died in 2007, never having come clean about his war record, even after more revelations emerged. Before expiring, he was, amazingly, invited to Israel. He went, and without actually telling the truth, apologized for not being more truthful.
What can Kenya's allies learn from the Waldheim Affair? One lesson is that diplomatic isolation makes a nation's internal neuroses worse, not better. After Waldheim, Austria went from being unremorseful about its history to aggressively conflicted. It twice elected Nazi apologist Jörg Haider to a governorship, and then imprisoned historian David Irving for denying the Holocaust. Something similar may already be coming to pass in Kenya, where, after inviting in scores of international observers and media organizations to cover the election, the government, unhappy with the coverage, is threatening to expel foreign journalists. (Uhuru Kenyatta has accused the British government of trying to deny him the election.)
Another lesson is that while a proud nation can endure its own shame, it won't abide the shame of others. That Kenya received $875 million in U.S. assistance in 2012 doesn't make Kenyans feel any more obliged to Washington's best hopes for them. Nor does the fact that Kenya is a signatory to the International Criminal Court, while the United States is not. After Carson made his remark about choices and consequences, there was much talk about the new Kenyan friendships with China and Russia. Kenyatta's sworn-enemy-turned-running-mate, William Ruto, who's facing charges at the ICC for backing the Kalenjin gangs that battled Kenyatta's Kikuyu gangs, responded to Carson by saying "We know that you have a stooge, a puppet. But now that you have realized your stooge is going nowhere, you have resorted to threats." He was referring to defeated Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and, though exaggerating for effect, he was essentially right. Odinga was the candidate of the West, as well as of the Kenyan intellectual classes, not just because he isn't indicted -- though, according to Kenyan reports, he probably should have been -- but because he represented, they felt, Kenyans' only chance to confront their past. Imprisoned and tortured in the 1980s for his efforts to reform Kenya, Odinga evokes the tragic strain in its history. He sees himself as an essential lump in the national throat, offering liberation through truth, if only Kenyans would agree to weep.
But most Kenyans don't want to weep. They want to forget the past, as this election shows, not confront it. They didn't care to hear, again, about the murders and evictions that accompanied the 2007 election, nor about the decades of grief that came before. Kramer wrote of Austrian Jews in the 1986 that they "liked the euphemistic surfaces of Austrian life," and the same can be said of Kenyans today. A nation of aspiring entrepreneurs (and, like Americans, lifestyle-aspirants in the ballot booth), they preferred to recall the theme of success in Kenyan history. Perhaps the most telling summary of this election that I heard was a ten-second FM radio service announcement that aired a few weeks before voting: "It's important the youth remember Kenya is a brand," the DJ purred, "a brand people are comfortable investing in." Nobody symbolizes the comforts of investment like Kenyatta, maybe the country's richest man, through little effort of his own. His family is the premier brand in Kenya.
What Kenyatta's foreign critics, like Waldheim's, failed to concede -- this may be the most valuable lesson -- is that countries will confront their pasts, or not, only on their own terms. In post-conflict societies, many public figures have blood on their hands. Kenyans are as aware of this now as Austrians once were. They can take it. What they don't want is sanctimony. They'd far rather see defiance, even if it entails a certain sadistic hypocrisy. So, like the Auschwitz survivors who voted for Waldheim, Kenyans who saw family and friends killed after the last election voted for Kenyatta, though they knew he may have ordered those deaths. No, because he may have ordered those deaths. He allied with Ruto not to avoid these dark imputations, but to drive them home. Though tribe was the watchword of this election, their alliance, and their victory, was nationalistic, not tribal -- just as Waldheim's was. Their unspoken but resounding message was this: Yes, we killed. We killed for you, for Kenya. And we'd kill again. It's the most seductive platform in politics.
As president, Allende adopted a policy of nationalization of industries and collectivization; due to these and other factors, increasingly strained relations between him and the legislative and judicial branches of the Chilean government (who did not share his enthusiasm for socialization of Chile) eventually culminated in a declaration of a "constitutional breakdown" by the parliament. On 11 September 1973 the military moved to oust Allende As troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende gave his last speech vowing not to resign, and then committed suicide.Following Allende's deposement, army General Augusto Pinochet declined to return authority to the civilian government; and Chile became ruled by a military junta that was in power from 1973 to 1990, ending almost 48 years of Chilean democratic rule. The military junta that took over became known for persecuting dissidents extensively… His three unsuccessful bids for the presidency (in the 1952, 1958 and 1964 elections) prompted Allende to joke that his epitaph would be "Here lies the next President of Chile." In 1952, as candidate for the Frente de Acción Popular (Popular Action Front, FRAP), he obtained only 5.4% of the votes, partly due to a division within socialist ranks over support for Carlos Ibáñez. In 1958, again as the FRAP candidate, Allende obtained 28.5% of the vote. This time, his defeat was attributed to votes lost to the populist Antonio Zamorano. In 1964, once more as the FRAP candidate, he lost again, polling 38.6% of the votes against 55.6% for Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei. As it became clear that the election would be a race between Allende and Frei, the political right – which initially had backed Radical Julio Durán– settled for Frei as "the lesser evil"… One month after the election, on 20 October, while the senate had still to reach a decision and negotiations were actively in place between the Christian Democrats and the Popular Unity, General René Schneider, Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, was shot resisting a kidnap attempt by a group led by General Roberto Viaux. Hospitalized, he died of his wounds three days later, on 23 October. Viaux's kidnapping plan had been supported by the CIA, although the then U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger claims to have ordered the plans postponed at the last moment. Many believe Kissinger's statement to be false and evidence points towards CIA director Richard Helms following orders directly from President Nixon to do whatever was necessary in order “to get rid of him”, referring to Allende. Nixon handed over a blank check to Helms, which allowed him to use full discretion in ridding Chile of Allende’s presence and “making the economy scream”. Schneider was a defender of the "constitutionalist" doctrine that the army's role is exclusively professional, its mission being to protect the country's sovereignty and not to interfere in politics…Upon assuming power, Allende began to carry out his platform of implementing a socialist programme called La vía chilena al socialismo ("the Chilean Path to Socialism"). This included nationalization of large-scale industries (notably copper mining and banking), and government administration of the health care system, educational system (with the help of an U.S. educator, Jane A. Hobson-Gonzalez from Kokomo, Indiana), a programme of free milk for children in the schools and shanty towns of Chile, and an expansion of the land seizure and redistribution already begun under his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva, who had nationalized between one-fifth and one-quarter of all the properties listed for takeover. Allende also intended to improve the socio-economic welfare of Chile's poorest citizens; a key element was to provide employment, either in the new nationalised enterprises or on public work projects...Upon coming into office, Allende and his government implemented various policies to boost employment and diffuse social unrest. In November 1970, 3,000 scholarships were allocated to Mapuches children in an effort to integrate the Indian minority into the educational system, payment of pensions and grants was resumed, an emergency plan providing for the construction of 120,000 residential buildings was launched, all part-time workers were granted rights to social security, a proposed electricity price increase was withdrawn, diplomatic relations were restored with Cuba, and political prisoners were granted an amnesty. In December that same year, bread prices were fixed, 55,000 volunteers were sent to the south of the country to teach writing and reading skills and provide medical attention to a sector of the population that had previously been ignored, a central commission was established to oversee a tri-partite payment plan in which equal place was given to government, employees and employers, and a protocol agreement was signed with the United Centre of Workers which granted workers representational rights on the funding board of the Social Planning Ministry. Free milk was introduced for nursing mothers, rent reductions were carried out, and the construction of the Santiago subway was rescheduled so as to serve working class neighbourhoods first. Workers benefited from increases in social security payments, an expanded public works program, and a modification of the wage and salary adjustment mechanism (which had originally been introduced in the Forties to cope with the country’s permanent inflation), while middle-class Chileans benefited from the elimination of taxes on modest incomes and property. In addition, state-sponsored programs distributed free food to the country’s neediest citizens, and in the countryside, peasant councils were established to mobilise agrarian workers and small proprietors. In the government’s first budget (presented to the Chilean congress in November 1970), the minimum taxable income level was raised, removing from the tax pool 35% of those who had paid taxes on earnings in the previous year. In addition, the exemption from general taxation was raised to a level equivalent to twice the minimum wage. Exemptions from capital taxes were also extended, which benefitted 330,000 small proprietors. The extra increases that Frei promised to the armed forces were also fully paid. According to one estimate, purchasing power went up by 28% between October 1970 and July 1971.Allende’s first step in early 1971 was to raise minimum wages (in real terms) for blue-collar workers by 37%-41% and 8%-10% for white-collar workers. Educational, food, and housing assistance was significantly expanded, with public-housing starts going up twelvefold and eligibility for free milk extended from age 6 to age 15. A year later, blue-collar wages were raised by 27% in real terms and white-collar wages became fully indexed. Price controls were also set up, while the Allende Government introduced a system of distribution networks through various agencies (including local committees on supply and prices) to ensure that the new rules were adhered to by shopkeepers… The possibility of Allende winning Chile's 1970 election was deemed a disaster by a US administration which wanted to protect US business interests by preventing any spread of Communism during the Cold War. In September 1970, President Nixon informed the CIA that an Allende government in Chile would not be acceptable and authorized $10 million to stop Allende from coming to power or unseat him. Henry Kissinger's 40 Committee and the CIA planned to impede Allende's investiture as President of Chile with covert efforts known as "Track I" and "Track II"; Track I sought to prevent Allende from assuming power via so-called "parliamentary trickery", while under the Track II initiative, the CIA tried to convince key Chilean military officers to carry out a coup…On 29 June 1973, Colonel Roberto Souper surrounded the presidential palace, La Moneda, with his tank regiment but failed to depose the government. That failed coup d’état – known as the Tanquetazo ("tank putsch") – organised by the nationalist Patria y Libertad paramilitary group, was followed by a general strike at the end of July that included the copper miners of El Teniente.In August 1973, a constitutional crisis occurred, and the Supreme Court of Chile publicly complained about the inability of Allende government to enforce the law of the land. On 22 August, the Chamber of Deputies (with the Christian Democrats uniting with the National Party) accused the government of unconstitutional acts through Allende's refusal to promulgate constitutional amendments, already approved by the Chamber, which would have prevented his government from continuing his massive nationalization plan and called upon the military to enforce constitutional order.For months, Allende had feared calling upon the Carabineros ("Carabineers", the national police force), suspecting them of disloyalty to his government. On 9 August, President Allende appointed General Carlos Prats as Minister of Defence. On 24 August 1973, General Prats was forced to resign both as defense minister and as the commander-in-chief of the army, embarrassed by both the Alejandrina Cox incident and a public protest in front of his house by the wives of his generals. General Augusto Pinochet replaced him as Army commander-in-chief the same day.According to Chilean political scientist Arturo Valenzuela (later becoming a U.S. citizen and Assistant Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs in the Obama administration), a greater share of the blame for the breakdown in Chilean democracy lays with the leftist Allende government. While both sides became increasingly distrustful of the other, the extreme leftists accelerated the process and left less room for political moderatism more than the extreme rightists. He writes "By its actions, the revolutionary Left, which had always ridiculed the possibility of a socialist transformation through peaceful means, was engaged in a self-fulfilling prophecy."On 26 May 1973, the Supreme Court of Chile unanimously denounced the Allende government's disruption of the legality of the nation in its failure to uphold judicial decisions, because of its continual refusal to permit police execution of judicial decisions contrary to the government's own measures.On 22 August 1973, the Christian Democrats and the National Party members of the Chamber of Deputies joined together to vote 81 to 47 in favor of a resolution that asked the authorities to "put an immediate end" to "breach[es of] the Constitution . . . with the goal of redirecting government activity toward the path of law and ensuring the Constitutional order of our Nation, and the essential underpinnings of democratic co-existence among Chileans."The resolution declared that Allende's government sought "to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the State . . . [with] the goal of establishing . . . a totalitarian system" and claimed that the government had made "violations of the Constitution . . . a permanent system of conduct." Essentially, most of the accusations were about disregard by the Socialist government of the separation of powers, and arrogating legislative and judicial prerogatives to the executive branch of government.Specifically, the Socialist government of President Allende was accused of:Ruling by decree, thwarting the normal legislative systemRefusing to enforce judicial decisions against its partisans; not carrying out sentences and judicial resolutions that contravened its objectivesIgnoring the decrees of the independent General Comptroller's OfficeSundry media offenses; usurping control of the National Television Network and applying economic pressure against those media organizations that are not unconditional supporters of the governmentAllowing its Socialist supporters to assemble with arms, and preventing the same by its right-wing opponentsSupporting more than 1,500 illegal takeovers of farmsIllegal repression of the El Teniente miners’ strikeIllegally limiting emigrationFinally, the resolution condemned the creation and development of government-protected [socialist] armed groups, which . . . are headed towards a confrontation with the armed forces. President Allende's efforts to re-organize the military and the police forces were characterized as notorious attempts to use the armed and police forces for partisan ends, destroy their institutional hierarchy, and politically infiltrate their ranks.Two days later, on 24 August 1973, President Allende responded,characterizing the Congress's declaration as destined to damage the country’s prestige abroad and create internal confusion, predicting It will facilitate the seditious intention of certain sectors. He noted that the declaration (passed 81–47 in the Chamber of Deputies) had not obtained the two-thirds Senate majority constitutionally required to convict the president of abuse of power: essentially, the Congress were invoking the intervention of the armed forces and of Order against a democratically-elected government and subordinat[ing] political representation of national sovereignty to the armed institutions, which neither can nor ought to assume either political functions or the representation of the popular will.Allende argued he had obeyed constitutional means for including military men to the cabinet at the service of civic peace and national security, defending republican institutions against insurrection and terrorism. In contrast, he said that Congress was promoting a coup d’état or a civil war with a declaration full of affirmations that had already been refuted beforehand and which, in substance and process (directly handing it to the ministers rather than directly handing it to the President) violated a dozen articles of the (then-current) Constitution. He further argued that the legislature was usurping the government's executive function.President Allende wrote: “Chilean democracy is a conquest by all of the people. It is neither the work nor the gift of the exploiting classes, and it will be defended by those who, with sacrifices accumulated over generations, have imposed it . . . With a tranquil conscience . . . I sustain that never before has Chile had a more democratic government than that over which I have the honor to preside . . . I solemnly reiterate my decision to develop democracy and a state of law to their ultimate consequences . . . Parliament has made itself a bastion against the transformations . . . and has done everything it can to perturb the functioning of the finances and of the institutions, sterilizing all creative initiatives.”Adding that economic and political means would be needed to relieve the country's current crisis, and that the Congress were obstructing said means; having already paralyzed the State, they sought to destroy it. He concluded by calling upon the workers, all democrats and patriots to join him in defending the Chilean Constitution and the revolutionary process.In early September 1973, Allende floated the idea of resolving the constitutional crisis with a plebiscite. His speech outlining such a solution was scheduled for 11 September, but he was never able to deliver it. On 11 September 1973, the Chilean military staged a coup against Allende.Just prior to the capture of La Moneda (the Presidential Palace), with gunfire and explosions clearly audible in the background, Allende gave his farewell speech to Chileans on live radio, speaking of himself in the past tense, of his love for Chile and of his deep faith in its future. He stated that his commitment to Chile did not allow him to take an easy way out, and he would not be used as a propaganda tool by those he called "traitors" (he refused an offer of safe passage), clearly implying he intended to fight to the end."Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!"Shortly afterwards, the coup plotters announced that Allende committed suicide. An official announcement declared that he had committed suicide with an automatic rifle. Prior to his death he had been photographed several times holding an AK-47, a gift from Fidel Castro. He was found dead with this gun. In his 2004 documentary Salvador Allende, Patricio Guzmán incorporates a graphic image of Allende's corpse in the position it was found after his death. According to Guzmán's documentary, Allende shot himself with a pistol and not a rifle.For years, the Chilean left-wing maintained that Allende had been assassinated, considering that a suicide would weaken Allende's figure. His doctor, José Quiroga, witness of Allende's suicide, who kept silence for a long time, said “It was more important the political issue of everybody believing that Allende had been killed by the military”. In recent years the view that he committed suicide has become more broadly accepted, particularly as different testimonies appear to confirm details of the suicide reported in news and documentary interviews. His personal doctor described the death as a suicide, and his family accepts the finding. The theory that he was assassinated persists and is referenced in the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine.In 2011, the controversy over the cause of death was reopened as the subject of an official investigation. On the basis of the original 1973 autopsy, Luis Ravanal, a medical examiner, expressed the opinion that the wounds on the body were not consistent with the theses of the alleged witnesses, as there were wounds caused by different guns. In January 2011, a Chilean judge ordered an inquiry, the first judicial investigation of the death. On 23 May 2011, Allende's body was exhumed in order to have an autopsy performed by an international forensic team. On 31 May, TVN, the state television station, reported the discovery of a secret 300-page military account of Allende's death. The document had been kept in the home of a former military justice official, and was discovered when his house was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. After reviewing the report, two forensic experts told TVN "that they are inclined to conclude that Allende was assassinated." This belief is supported by forensic expert Luis Ravanal who has been studying Allende's autopsy since 2007. Ravanal says he found details in the autopsy that were not in line with the official version of Allende's death. The cranium, he says, shows evidence of a first shot with a small gun, like a pistol, and then, a second shot from a larger weapon — like an AK-47 — which could mean that Allende was shot and killed, then shot a second time with his own gun, to make it look like suicide. Chile's Legal Medical Service confirmed on 19 July 2011 that the death was suicide, consistent with the beliefs of Allende's family. Dr. Patricio Bustos, the director of Chile's LMS, described the conclusions as "definitive". Briton David Prayer, an expert in ballistics, stated that the former president died as the result of two gunshot wounds which came from an assault rifle placed between his legs and aimed at his chin. The scientific autopsy team delivered a unanimous finding that Allende used an AK-47 rifle given to him by Fidel Castro. The gun was set to fire automatically and the shots tore off the top of his head, killing him instantly.
This is what I read:
Who sent me that message?Pray against the forces of darkness from America & the European Nations, working with the courts to nullify presidential elections. Prayer n fasting is key. Pls send only to trusted believers to intensify prayers for the next 14 days until ruling is given. Remember which side the Chief Justice is. Pls pray for the dark cloud to disappear, & 4 God to bring judgement upon this wicked politician who is only after bloodshed in this country.
More importantly, who is the original author?
Well, quite frankly, I do not know.
But I grew up on Agatha Christie detective novels and one of the things I found out that the real culprit is rarely the obvious suspect.
For instance, there are those who would rush to conclude that the text probably emanated from a certain well known political formation which did very well during the March 4 elections.
But are they the guys to blame?
If Agatha Christie were alive today, she would have cautioned us to cast our suspicious nets very widely.
This is what I have done.
I have about 8 suspects who could have composed and distributed that somewhat disconcerting SMS.
Let me list them:
1. A left handed hacker based in Kazhakistan (I mean why not? Do you know what left handed hackers from one of the former Soviet republics is capable of? Think!);
2. David Bowie's New York based Somali nephew via his wife retired Super Model Iman (she lived in a Nairobi suburb in the early eighties before she was "discovered"- did you know that?);
3. Robin Van Persie, the deadly striker of the Manchester United football club ( he has a charity in Kenya you know);
4. Lionel Messi ( yes, why not him? He is Argentinian after all, just like Luis Moreno Ocampo!);
5. The sister of Barack Obama's former speech writer ( remember the 44th US President may have had an interest on who was elected Governor of Siaya County);
6. One of Finland's Olympic medallists (everyone knows that Nokia is from Finland. Do you how many Kenyans are therefore affiliated to Finland via their mobile phones?
7. The Mayor of Ougadougou (personally, I have never trusted municpal officials from Burkina Faso even though my own son is named after the late Captain Thomas Sankara the slain revolutionary leader from that small West African state;
8. Jay Leno: US late night comedians can do ANYTHING to boost their TV ratings.
I hope NOBODY took me SERIOUSLY.
I was JUST KIDDING.
But I am consoled by the inspiration from Kenya's writers and public intellectuals who have once again come to the fore to speak uncomfortable truth to power. I want to end with a collage of four voices, some familiar, some not too well known.
Dr. Wambui Mwangi is a renowned academic who taught at the University of Toronto for many years but nowadays hovers closer home. Here are her observations on the relentless carpet bombing of poor, innocent, defenceless Kenyans with precision, media launched Peace missiles:
Vote and go home. Wait there for the results.” We did. “Be calm, be patient.” We were.SOURCE: The East African
“Defend the peace.” We did. “Accept the results.” We d.. We didn’t.
How, now? How, now?
We were taught the proverb “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” We know how lucky we have been in the relative smoothness of this past week. We should probably be grateful for our gifts of peace and calm.
Accredited international observers from the European and African Unions were shown on local media as generally approving of the voting process, although they were not quite as gushing about us as we are.
Perhaps now we’ve shown that we know not only how to vote, but also how to count fairly, accurately, honestly and in full constitutional compliance. Perhaps it is true that we Kenyans behaved in an exemplary democratic way.
We would all like very much to believe that we have had an election in which it is perfectly all right to lose because the process has been fair, transparent and just.
Maybe we should simply savour our exhausted gladness that the IEBC part of the process finally came to an end and rejoice that we have an official result at all.
Maybe we should not look this gift horse in the mouth.
Still, the ghosts of lost voices tug at our dreams and some questions beg to be asked.
It has been five years since last our authorised electoral body, the ECK, failed spectacularly before our disillusioned eyes.
The problem last time was that the institutional tallying process experienced visible glitches and, at first, unexplained delays. Then, the credibility of the electoral body’s results was immediately contested.
Unless we are groping at the very bottom of the barrel for our standards given this antithetical example and its consequences, we would reasonably have hoped that in the meantime the new IEBC would have expended every effort towards delivering fail-safe electoral systems and speedy results.
The problem this time is that the institutional tallying process experienced visible glitches and, at first, unexplained delays. Then, the credibility of the electoral body’s results was immediately contested.
Those ghosts, those echoes.
Still, maybe we deserve the accolades for waiting out the interminable hours and stretchy, choir-filled minutes before the announcement of the official results.
Maybe we are to be commended for the intensity of citizen attention to the process that glued us all to our radios and televisions. Perhaps this is the sign of an eager and knowledgeable citizenry and not the alertness of frightened goats catching the scent of a cheetah on the prowl.
Maybe also we should remember 2013’s overwhelming public campaign for peace and calm and its endorsement from almost every imaginable type of social actor and entity as the resounding success it undoubtedly was.
Perhaps, given how many Kenyans turned out to vote and how fervent the mutually-antagonistic support for the two leading candidates, we deserve a little back-slapping and high-five-ing for having mostly refrained from indulging in another gory spectacle.
Even though a number of our security personnel and civilians, presumptively all Kenyan citizens, died. Perhaps we should be grateful there were not more deaths and leave it at that.
However, if we’re going to accept all the praises without irony, with a straight national face, we cannot also mock foreign journalists for having brought their distasteful appetite for African carnage to our 2013 doors.
Obviously many Kenyans were anxious about the threat of violence as well or we would hardly have felt the need, at such a critical intensity, to exhort and plead with each other to maintain the peace and calm.
In the week before the election, anxious parents stocked up on UHT milk; some citizens temporarily moved in with relatives to escape from ‘opposition’ stronghold areas where they usually live; others actually left the country to watch the elections from the safety of neighbouring capitals; companies disseminated precautionary and emergency instructions prior to voting day. Nairobi during election week credibly imitated a city under military occupation.
But perhaps these foreign journalists will be more careful about thrusting us into their stereotypical boxes next time. Perhaps we should just take that as a triumph and call it a day.
Even so, we should notice that it is no compliment to be congratulated for not having slaughtered each other over an election result.
Rather, these accolades foreground the painful wounds we inflicted on our collective psyche the last time around. They also raise ethically irrepressible questions about our obligations to the memories and claims to justice of our 2008 PEV dead.
For their deaths we owe a sincere and transparent search for the truth.
Maybe we still intend to pursue the difficult questions of who killed them, under what orders and whence those orders came.
Those ghosts, those lost voices.
For now, while it is clear that the Kenyan people have honoured our new Constitution and sustained our sovereign democratic processes, it is not yet as clear that our constitutionally mandated institutions have kept faith with us in their turn.
Whatever our horse has been in this electoral race, we all agree that we did not and do not want a repeat of the violence of 2007/2008.
We do not ever again want to watch pangas flashing in the lights of burning fires. We agree that we must use our constitutional institutions to execute and resolve electoral processes and disputes.
We agree that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over whatever issues remain to be faced. We will accept the Supreme Court’s judgement no matter what it turns out to be.
But we need our constitutionally-mandated institution and especially the Supreme Court, to keep faith with the people of Kenya and with the Constitution, too.
We need the court to tell us in truth and integrity whether or not the IEBC tally should continue to hold our trust. We need to know whether or not the IEBC itself worked as it was told to work by the Constitution we are all bound to obey.
Flattering as the compliments directed our way are and tempting as it is to preen, “Reputation is what others know about you. Honour is what you know about yourself.”
We owe to our Kenyan honour a full measure of constitutional rigour in resolving the current electoral dispute. Not mindless acquiescence or cowed compliance nor yet a peace woven from justice denied or invisible.
Lest we change our mutual gift of peace and calm into a Trojan horse of unending national distrust, constitutionally-grounded justice is the standard to which we aspire.
In a similar vein the sardonic, often acerbic columnist and cricket aficionado Clay Muganda weighed in thus in a piece carried by the March 19, 2013 Daily Nation:
We cannot stand being told to change direction even when we have been blindfolded by the Government and are being pushed in to an abyss.Many of the above sentiments on the role of the Kenyan media in the just concluded elections were echoed during the recent Article 19 seminar convened at the Stanley Hotel here in Nairobi. Giving my contribution at that event I said that there was a very narrow definition of both the media and social medi. On the former, I posited that concept of media must embrace those of us who are on vibrant online platforms like Jukwaa for instance; on the latter I insisted that social media did not just comprise of bored outbursts shared as Facebook updates and certainly went beyond the sparse cryptic Twitter tweets. Many Kenyans were veterans in social media platforms like Kenya Online, Kenya Community Abroad, Mwananchi, Kiswahili and others which had hosted focused and serious discussion forums on the Yahoo! based Groups for over twenty years and therefore it was wrong to stigmatize Kenyan blogosphere as a hotbed of hate speech.
You do not have to be an opportunistic foreign journalist to realise that the Kenyan media is not only in bed with the Government, but is also living in a make-believe world where milk and honey flow from diamond-encrusted faucets built by the gods themselves.
The accusations that we numbed ourselves with messages of peace, slept on the job, censored ourselves or preached peace at the expense of justice during the recent elections are neither here nor there. After all most, if not all, of our investments, kith and kin are in this country and we had to employ all means to protect them.
But by numbing ourselves with messages of peace and censoring ourselves, we were just admitting that, ever since the “hostilities” ended in 2008, there has never been peace, that what we have had is just a tinderbox waiting for the smallest spark to explode.
By censoring ourselves, and, by extension, the people, we were conspiring with the Government to hide the fact that, through its lopsided resettlement and compensation schemes, it had failed to foster peace among different communities since the chaos of five years ago.
Instead of being a watchdog, the media has turned into a partner, a collaborator of the Government, a feat which the latter achieved — knowingly or inadvertently — by continuously heaping praises on the former as was witnessed during the recent elections, or with semi-autonomous Government bodies incessantly dishing out awards to the media, so much so that our work is nowadays not for viewers, listeners or readers, but for media awards panelists.
As a matter of fact, the impact of our work is nowadays not measured by how much it has helped change the lives of Kenyans, but by the number of awards it has won.
It is, therefore, not uncommon for journalists to say they are working on stories to be submitted for different awards, or for them to take to the social media and start remarking how a story is so going to win an award even before all of it is aired.
Of course there is nothing wrong with winning awards, aiming to win awards or even being ambitious, but when you are blinded by personal gain and bias and the urge to be ahead of an imagined competition as opposed to informing and educating the public, then you lose focus.
Let us not lie to ourselves, we are doing this country more harm than good and we are not becoming better professionals by continuously patting ourselves on the back, sometimes literally, during live news broadcasts or by attacking those who point out our shortcomings.
We are so fast in casting stones at others but we lack the wherewithal to look within and see that the reports by foreign journalists say more about our low level of understanding of the world around us than about their high standards of journalism, considering that they are called upon and paid more than double our yearly wage to train us for less than a month.
For all the noise that we make about our professionalism and independence, we have never remembered that we do not even have a professional media body or a Press Club where we can meet and share ideas or compare notes.
Muthoni Wanyeki, the former Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and before that FEMNET recently asked in her weekly column whether it was worth it for Kenyans to come out in their millions to vote:
...we are also beginning to ask the questions we must about the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya.Next, let us listen to the novelist Stanley Gazemba:
How did it happen that every guarantee recommended by the Independent Review Commission failed? Because the failure of both biometric identification and electronic transmission systems is not about technological failure alone.
It is about the failure of two critical lines of defence. First, ensuring that only validly registered voters cast their ballots and do so only once. And second, that problems of counting, tallying and transmission of results are guarded against.
It is already clear that the breach of these two lines of defence has introduced questions as to the accuracy of the results.
Even a cursory comparison of the provisional voters register against the online (and deemed official) voters register as well as the numbers of registered voters drawn from the announcements of official results reveals inconsistencies.
A deeper analysis of the patterns of these inconsistencies shows an interesting alignment of deletions from one political party stronghold and additions to another party stronghold.
Then there is the maths. The numbers in the announced official results do not add up. The numbers in the online official results differ from the announced official results.
There are differences within constituencies between the numbers cast at each level of the vote — with the presidential vote registering consistently and significantly higher numbers than the votes for the five other levels.
What does this all mean?
First, it means that we should understand why the decisions made by a section of civil society and one political party to take these concerns before the Supreme Court are so critical.
We deserve to know what happened to our vote. We deserve to know whether the IEBC upheld its legal mandate to guarantee the integrity of the vote. If not, we deserve to know why.
It is that slow-dawning realisation that is responsible for the nervous calm that seems to now pertain. Is the Supreme Court aware of the weight now upon its shoulders? It would seem so from the Chief Justice’s request to the media to broadcast its deliberations on any electoral petitions live. It would also seem so from the decision to observe the same deliberations by the African Judges Forum.
What then is the weight upon our own shoulders? We must pay attention to what is submitted before the courts. We must weigh it ourselves. And we must commit ourselves to also come to our own conclusions about the Supreme Court’s handling of the electoral petitions.
But whatever those conclusions may be, we must also accept that our Constitution provides for no further redress for anybody still aggrieved.
On the morning of March 9, I was on Waiyaki Way, a major Nairobi thoroughfare, when I came upon a throng of supporters of Uhuru Kenyatta, who was declared the winner — by the narrowest of margins — of the presidential election held five days earlier. The demonstrators brought the traffic on that busy highway to a stop. At dawn, the same mob had awakened me, as hordes of young people paraded through residential suburbs in an anticipatory celebration for Mr. Kenyatta, a son of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta. Seated in a minibus immobilized by traffic, I got a close look at them. These were no urbanites. If you have lived in Nairobi for as long as I have, you are able to tell country folk who are new to town just by their looks. Someone had bused them in.SOURCE: The New York Times.
What shocked me, though, was not that they were snatching cellphones out of open car windows. It was the expletives they were shouting through those windows. A nation of Kikuyu — Kenya’s dominant ethnic group, of which the Kenyattas are members — had triumphed once again over the Luo, the minority to which Mr. Odinga belongs. The tribal invective was ugly. But the shocking bit was watching kids of around age 6 wallow in the rhetorical filth, egged on by people I assumed to be their parents. We were drawing from the basest of our primitive reserves in the name of celebrating a victory that had yet to be confirmed. (Mr. Odinga has refused to concede defeat, and is challenging the results in court.)
This depressing scenario doesn’t bode well for Kenyan democracy, a half-century after Kenya attained independence from Britain.
But perhaps the most hard hitting critique that I have seen in the Kenyan mainstream print media lately is this scathing indictment by Tee Ngugi who declared that there was a sharp turn to the right after the March 4th elections:
The question, then, in the aftermath of the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as president and William Ruto as his deputy, is whether the two are capable of driving an agenda that was crafted and pushed by the anti-Kanu movement at great cost in blood and tears.In terms of confronting some of the looming dangers on the Kenyan political horizon, instead of paraphrasing what I said in a blog post on this very site on Saturday October 13, 2012, I will literally reproduce it below:
My sense — looking at their political and social history, how they galvanised their political support, and their positions on various issues in the recent past — point to an ideological outlook opposed to a social democratic agenda.
For instance, both have profited immensely, politically and materially, from Kanu patronage. Ruto campaigned vigorously against the new Constitution and was opposed to the appointment of human-rights crusader Willy Mutunga as Chief Justice, and both he and Kenyatta supported the unconstitutional appointment of high-level officials by President Mwai Kibaki.
Again, both not only invoked the Kanu era tribal configurations of Gema (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association) and Kamatusa (Kalenjin, Maasai, Turkana, Samburu ), but also used them as the central organising principles of their campaigns.
Lastly, both have shown a hostile attitude towards the history of the bitter struggle for human rights in Kenya, often haranguing people to forget the past, and neither has ever condemned human-rights abuses in Uganda or Zimbabwe, etc.
So Kenyans should expect to see appointment of Kanu types to the Cabinet and other positions, a less than robust implementation of constitutional provisions on integrity, slowing down of investigations into Kanu-era mega-corruption scandals, a less enthusiastic approach to the land question, official banishment of the glorious struggle for democracy in Kenya, a warming up to rogue states that spew anti-Western rhetoric, subtle and not-so-subtle restrictions on intellectual and creative spaces.
The best time to fight fascism is BEFORE it comes to power and that the people to lead this onslaught are the most radical and progressive political forces in society.
However, the urgent need to consolidate the democratic gains achieved in Kenya through struggle over the last thirty years cannot be overemphasized.
It is important that the forces of social justice, democracy, sustainable development, gender equality, youth empowerment and constitutionalism maintain the upswing, the moment which picked up especially after the defeat of the Moi-KANU Uhuru Project in 2002 and the patriotic victory following the promulgation of the Kenyan Constitution in August 2010.
Kenyans cannot afford to revert to the status quo ante-the period of arbitrary arrests and detentions without trial; kangaroo trials; pork barrel tribal politics; state instigated violence; grand corruption; grand larceny; official misogyny, anti-youth bias; religious bigotry and other forms of backward and reactionary policies at the national, county, constituency, municipal and ward levels.
We can choose to fret, whine, quake and shake about the chilling possibility of a nefarious putschist plot or we can opt for the more sensible option:
Maintain eternal vigilance and redouble our efforts in steadfastly implementing our new constitutional order.
As some kind of post script, check out this article from the Standard:
By Mwenda Njoka
KENYA: While President Kibaki goes through the final stages of handing over instruments of power to his successor and the outgoing president’s kitchen cabinet is busy packing to leave town, a new crop of powerbrokers has coalesced around President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President-elect William Ruto.
And as happens in any new administration, the powerful players behind the scenes are often men and women essentially unknown to the larger public. These are political players who have, over the years, worked closely with the principals earning their trust, confidence and in the process gaining unlimited access to the centre of power. Power, they say, does not flow along the lines of an organisation’s organograms; power is fluid and often asymmetrical.
Access is power, those who have unlimited access to leaders often tend to have more power and influence on decision-making processes than elected leaders holding seemingly powerful positions.
As political historian Hedrick Smith writes in his book, The Power Game – How Washington Works’ access to a president means involvement in major decisions and actions of the State. Smith writes the most vital ingredients of power are often intangible. Information is power. Visibility around the president or his deputy is power and so is access to the inner sanctums of government.In this special report, The Standard On Sunday gives you a guide on the people who will wield enormous influence in the Uhuru-Ruto administration should the Supreme Court rule the petition in favour of the Jubilee Coalition team.
So, move over old order, the new kids are in the block.
Besides being younger brother to President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, Muhoho and Uhuru enjoy a close friendship. Muhoho is media-shy and studiously avoids the limelight. He is more comfortable in corporate boardrooms where he holds directorship in many blue chip companies.
Nevertheless, those close to Uhuru say that the President-elect frequently consults Muhoho before making major decisions. By virtue of being brother to President-elect’s mother, naturally Muhoho will have unlimited access to Uhuru, and thus be in a vantage position to wield massive influence in Uhuru-Ruto administration. Having shown absolutely no interest in a political position, Muhoho will be in a good place to be an independent and reliable voice to Uhuru without any perception of appearing like a future competitor. There are members of the Uhuru family who are also likely to wield significant influence should Uhuru-Ruto team prevail in the petition against their election.
These include cousin Beth Mugo, uncle George Muhoho, and mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta among a couple of others.
David W G Murathe:
He is a former MP for Gatanga, who has worked closely with Uhuru since the president-elect’s entry into politics in mid-1990s. Over the years, Murathe’s relationship with Uhuru has grown from that of two political allies to a firm friendship.
He is a former Personal Assistant to President Kibaki and also a former schoolmate of Uhuru both at St Marys School and Amherst College, USA. His experience in operations of the State having worked in the inner sanctums of State House in the early years of Kibaki presidency will come in handy in an Uhuru-Ruto administration. He played a significant role during the Uhuru-Ruto campaigns often serving as liaison between the campaign and the outside world.
Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi:
Or JB, as he is popularly known, is a lawyer, a former magistrate, and a former Member of Parliament for Siakago. During his years in Parliament, Muturi established good rapport with Uhuru and ever since they have been close allies. After losing his parliamentary in 2002, Muturi retreated from active politics but remained in the limelight by virtue of being chairman of Centre for Multiparty Democracy, a pro-democracy NGO.
This suave son of former Cabinet minister Maina Wanjigi is one of the best-networked businessmen in town today. He is a former schoolmate of Uhuru’s at St Marys School. Jimi is media-shy and prefers operating from behind the scenes. He was a staunch supporter of Prof George Saitoti and would have done everything in his power to help propel Saitoti to the presidency had fate not come in between. When Saitoti died last year, Jimi was left without a presidential candidate to support. He briefly toyed with the idea of backing Raila Odinga, but for some reason, this did not go far.
Although not an original supporter of Uhuru Kenyatta, Jimi started working closely with William Ruto and soon enough he, Jimi, was a most integral part of Uhuru-Ruto presidential bid. Jimi is credited with having single-handedly crafted the deal that saw Ruto opt to support Uhuru instead of going back to Raila camp, as had appeared at some point months before the March 4 elections. The very act of delivering Ruto to Uhuru was worth its weight in gold, in political terms. Having Ruto stick with Uhuru rather than go back to Raila was the game-changer in the last elections. Being the man responsible for this, Jimi will definitely have a lot of clout and influence in a Uhuru-Ruto administration.
Charles Cheruiyot Keter:
He is a former MP for Belgut who won the Kericho senatorial seat in the just-ended General Election. He is one of the closest allies to Deputy President-elect William Ruto who consults him on almost all political issues. Keter not only enjoys Ruto’s undivided confidence, but he also happens to be closely allied to another most significant player around Ruto, city businessman Jimi Wanjigi.
Keter is destined to be one of the most influential players in a Uhuru-Ruto administration. Indeed, there has been talk that Keter, who is also a former assistant minister for Energy, may at some point resign his senatorial position for appointment to the cabinet as Energy Secretary.
He is Uhuru’s nephew and has also been his long-serving personal assistant. Jomo is son to Uhuru’s sister Jeni and Udi Gecaga. By virtue of being family member and a PA, Jomo will enjoy more proximity to the centre of power than possibly most other people in a Uhuru-Ruto administration. Being at the centre provides one with the ability to be in the loop on major decisions and also influence decisions one way or the other.
He is a lawyer and one of the people who have stuck by Uhuru’s side for the longest time through thick and thin. He is a strong defender of Uhuru and is also fiercely loyal to the president-elect. He has been mentioned as a likely Comptroller of State House in a, Uhuru administration. Such an appointment and his personal rapport with Uhuru would make Njee Muturi another very vital player in State House controlling access to the inner sanctums of power.
Aden Bare Duale:
He is a former MP for Dujis who got re-elected to the National Assembly in the just-ended General Election. He has been at Ruto’s side in recent years always ready to defend Ruto whenever the deputy-president elect was under political attack. It was perhaps because of the relationship they’ve built over the years that Ruto had Duale take a key post his party, URP.
He is a former commissioner of the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission, and also secretary general of Ruto’s party, URP.
From this vantage position, Chirchir has been established himself as a key player around Ruto. During the campaigns, Ruto relied on Chirchir a great deal on logistical issues. In a Uhuru-Ruto administration, Chirchir is likely to continue being a man of influence around the centre of power.
Onesmus Kipchumba Murkomen:
He is the newly elected senator who beat Nicholas Biwott in the game. Although a political newcomer, Murkomen, a former law lecturer at Moi University, has within a short time got close to Ruto and is today one of the people deputy president-elect turns to when he wants legal advice on political matters.