CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AUGUST 25TH DUNIA SHOW FEATURING INTERVIEW WITH MICERE MUGO, MUSIC BY TEOFILO CHANTRE, OLIVER MTUKUDZI,SAM MANGWANA, BONGA, ILDO LOBO AND MUCH MUCH MORE
A Digital Essay by Onyango Oloo in Montreal
0.0. The Story of the Day
The news of the day had to with
whose crimes are legion Pinochet
1.0. On Being a Luo from Western Province
SIX of the most common names among the Luo are Omondi, Onyango,Ochieng, Odhiambo, Otieno and Oduor with their female equivalents,Amondi(or Akinyi) Anyango, Achieng, Adhiambo, Atieno- never heard of “Aduor”…
And these names have to do with the time of birth:
Omondi, Amondi and Akinyi are kids who were born early in the morning;
Onyango and Anyango are babies who were delivered in mid-morning- anytime
from 8:45 to 10:45- that time when you want to go and sit in your
Agola(veranda) and bask in that sweet sunshine; on the other hand, Oluoch
and Aluoch are infants born on a cloudy day(no time specified); Ochieng
and Achieng are mid day deliveries; Adhiambo and Odhiambo are daughters
and sons who were welcomed in the evening, especially around sunset; Otieno and
Atieno were zaliwad at night and Oduor is a midnight special….
That is the general guideline.
But get this:
Not all Ochiengs were born during the day and not all Anyangos are girls.
The Luos have a very intricate naming system.
Take me for instance.
Most people online call me “Oloo” even though strictly speaking THAT IS
NOT EVEN MY NAME- but my grandfather’s name and if I were to follow strict
Luo tradition, it is taboo to name a child after a living relative- and
Isaya Oloo died on Friday October 21, 1981, if memory serves me right. I
started using Oloo because my father used that name as his surname even
though his middle name is Achwal, not Oloo.
Now the original Oloo was called Oloo by HIS father Agina- also the father of Professor Ogot’s father- because this Isaya was born after a sibling who had died in
infancy- ‘Oloo’ is the name given to the child who brings the dead one
When I was born at approximately 9:30 am on a sunny Friday in August forty
four years ago in Nakuru... how can I be so precise?
Well, I was right there
REMEMBER, when I was being born?
As I was saying, when I was born on that nineteenth day of the eighth month my mom told me she immediately freaked out.
She freaked out because I was born with SIX FINGERS on each hand (you always thought Oloo was weird, now you have PROOF) which they immediately CUT OFF in hospital- not all the six fingers you numbskulls,just the extra ones and NO,I was NOT born with an EXTRA penis or SIX testicles, for goodness sake you deranged creeepozoids!
Check out this photos carefully to see if any evidence of those six fingers lingers today:
Wait a minute.
I am a bit lost.
Where was I?
Yes, I was saying that my mom-you see her below...
had to start thinking immediately what name to give me.
The timing of my arrival gave her an immediate clue:"Onyango".
She was an Anglican and so she started scouring the Bible and King David, the one who slew the giant Goliath with a single slingshot had always been her hero, so that
was a no brainer. Please do not ask me from which German trench my mom or my
Dad (both expired Kenyans for quite some time now) dredged the dreadful “Fredrick” from.
all the Freds,Freddie and variations of Fredrick out there, do not take
this personally, but as a former Fredrick, take it from me that I LOATHED
that name-especially when my Deep South Baptist American missionaries
dropped Onyango and Oloo and coerced me to use Fredrick as my last name
for FOUR AWFUL YEARS in secondary school.
The other thing you should know is that I am a double Onyango. And I am
not saying that my name is Onyango Onyango Oloo.
I am saying that I was named Onyango TWICE-once, because of the time I
was born and twice because Onyango was the name of my mother’s uncle who
had died a year previously.
But that is NOT ALL.
My paternal grandmother, Doris Awiti-a Luhyia woman from Emanyulia whose
folks had been FORMER LUOS who relocated to that neck of the woods from
Alego a generation before she was born- my grandmother had this penchant
for seeing visions just around the time kids were being born. I loved
my grandma to death, but I found her visions about kids rather
CONVENIENT, if you ask me. She would always WAIT until a child had been
NAMED and then, like the United States at the United Nations, she would
chime in with her VETO, saying sweetly and misleadingly innocently:
“You know last night your great grandfather Agina came to me in a dream and he said that your kid brother Otieno’s real name is actually Agina and if you do not comply he will choke that infant and take him away.”
Talk about blood-curdling and macabre fear inspiring older relatives! My mother who was a born again Christian by then, simply added whichever name my grandma wanted to the ones she had already chosen. For some reason, my mama’s names are the ones
which STUCK, do not ask me why.
Which is one of the reasons you never hear anyone call Onyango Oloo,
Rapudo Mudhune. Now “rapudo” means tall and slender- something that I am
definitely NOT. Mudhune happened to be my FATHER’s uncle and he had died
around 1957, 1958, 1959, I am not sure, since I was not yet around, see,
otherwise I would remember OK?. A lot of kids who were born among that
branch of the Kagola clan around that time were called Mudhune- like my
first cousin Roselinda who preceded me to this planet by a few months.
And Kagola is only one of the many clans among the Gem segment. There are similar clans among other subgroups of the the Luo-Jo Ugenya, Jo Alego, Jo Seme, Jo Sakwa, Jo Kisumo, Jo Uyoma, JoImbo and of course the cluster we who are on “this side” call Jo Loka(people who are on the other side of the lake); Kagola is in addition one
of the dominant clans in Gem. It produced colonial functionaries like
the legendary and notorious Ruoth Odera Akan’go who is remembered for his
disciplinarian rule which led to bountiful harvests, roads and other
infrastructure and other achievements effected and enacted at the crack of
a whip- it is said that if Odera Akango caught a thief stealing bananas
for example, he would force miscreant to gobble down the whole thing-
and I am not talking about the single banana or even the bunch; Ruoth
Ogada of Malang’a; the aforesaid Mudhune; my grandfather, after going to
Mozambique or was it Tanganyika as a rifle carrier for the British
colonialists during the first World War came back to serve as an interpreter in
Butere(courts? I am not sure- will ask my Dad’s surviving siblings while
they are still around) that is where he picked up his Kiswahili- in the
1920s,(this to you all those twenty something Luos in America who cannot
SPEAK or WRITE Kiswahili in the TWENTY FIRST century). And of course, my
father’s second oldest sister Margaret(Waya ma Min Akongo to us nephews and nieces),one of three school teachers among my four paternal aunts,married BA Ohanga who was an educator(inspector of schools and later) a well known colonial
collaborator who together with Musa Amalemba were the first two Africans
appointed ministers in Kenya. Ohanga was turfed out of central Nyanza politics
by none other than his Kisumu neighbour Jaramogi Oginga Odinga whose son
Raila told me on August 25, 2000 that he grew up treating my Ohanga cousins like the late Veronica Nyamodi(whose spouse was a perennial rival to Oloo Aringo in
Alego) like his own brothers and sisters and they remained close in adult
life with Raila being one of those who delivered an eulogy when Akongo (as
we knew Veronica) died a few years ago. The Kagola clan also produced
Argwings Kodhek, Omollo Okero and if I am not mistaken Rading Omollo and
Oki Ooko Ombaka.
And this is why some members of my family took it PERSONALLY when in
1963 Martin Shikuku lobbied successfully for Luanda Doho to be hived off
from Gem in neighbouring Nyanza to become part of Western Province. Some
of my father’s brothers (my own Dad’s contrary views were inherited by
his first born son) actually started a half-hearted campaign in the 1980s to have
Luanda Doho revert back to Nyanza arguing for instance that the Luanda
Primary School and the Anglican Church in Luanda were well known as
SYMBOLS of learning and enlightenment all over Gem. They tried to argue
that one of Gem’s most illustrious scholarly sons, Professor Bethwell Ogot
woke up one day to find that he was no longer a Nyanza resident, but an
“alien” living in Western Province. One of the most well known benga bands
in Nyanza during the seventies was Gem Lucky Band formed by Richard Odongo
and some of his brothers, cousins and neighbhourhood friends- and their
home was literally across the road from us.
This little anecdote will explain why when Mrs Grace Ogot, the well known
writer (and spouse of Oloo’s historian uncle) wanted to vie for the Gem
seat, the Ogots LITERALLY moved to set up a brand new home near Yala
township(abandoning their ultra modern, by local standards dwelling at
the junction of the red laterite/murram road where one tip of the fork
snakes northwards to Got Regea and Got Kokwiri in Gem while the other
branches eastwards to Emanyulia, Eshirotsa, Ikomero and Khwisero, and if
you were adventurous enough,
One of my sisters(the one who is no longer around) was born in Namasoli on April 10, 1967
For younger, more urbanized Kagola clan members like myself, we did not
see what the whole effing deal was.
On both sides of the dirt road that delineated Nyanza from Western you still
find relatives and among both sides you find bilingual families with
dual ethnic heritage. I have written extensively about my Luhyia
grandmother, but not enough about Isaya Oloo’s own Luhyia MOTHER or my
mother’s LUHYIA grandmother who was married to this man in Ugenya who
sired my mother’s mother before SHE(my maternal grandma) got married to
this young hospital orderly called Jonathan Wandolo whose family had
relocated from Ugenya to Rawalo (just a pebble’s fling from Jina,
Nyamninia, Muhanda, Anyiko and Yala in Gem)..
I remember two of Professor Ogot's contemporaries-Gideon S. Were and
Godfrey Muriuki telling me and other first year BA history students in
Education Theatre II that there was no such thing as a “pure tribe” in
Kenya and I can attest to the truth of this by just looking at the “Luo”
people of Gem and “Luhyia” people of the adjacent villages of Ukura,
Ukhoware, Ujimbe(Uchimbe?) and other places and communities along this
section of the Nyanza/Western border all the way from Maseno(the Wanyore
of Luanda Siala) to Butere. There was so much admixture, so much intermarriage, such
cross pollination; it is not clear if TODAY we would NOT be having a
hybrid ethnic group called perhaps the Abanyoluoya as opposed to these
fractions feeding into the neo-colonial social construct of “Luos” and
“Luhyias”. Many Luos from other parts of Nyanza have long “accused” the
people of Gem of being “jomwa(non-Luos) because of our usage of such
terms like “khwarha (known in other parts of Luoland as “keto pi da'kuon”)
“osirigoho”(“chieth gweno” to Luo purists) “sikhokho”(giving someone the
evil eye) and other words which betray obvious Luhyia origins. Even some
contemporary “Luo” clans in Gem like Jo-Urewe, Jo-Uhoware and Jo-Ujimbe
were actually Luhyia clans as late as the second half of the 19th century.
And like I said, my own “Luhyia” grandmother used to insist that she was
originally from Alego even though she used to speak Luo with a slight
Luhyia accent. For some time I used to think that she was just trying to
fit in-until almost thirty years later when I was in Canada and had logged
on to the internet and there was this Kenyan woman living in France who
told this fascinating tale of this Luhyia community who had migrated there
from Alego. And guess where this Kenyan woman is from? Emanyulia- my
grandmother's home village. And she has relatives near Yala where I too
have relatives. I am pretty sure that if we compare notes closely, we will
find that somewhere we have COMMON LUO and LUHYIA forbears...
The foregoing makes nonsense of the strident claims of ethnic
particularism that I often accost on my cyber travels-from Kenyans who
have lived in America for three decades!
Without the interruption of colonialism, the so called Luos and Luhyias
of Kenya perhaps would have become part of the Buganda-Bunyoro Kingdom
and perhaps today there would be as many Luganda, Samia, Kigisu and Teso
words in my lexicon as there could be Maasai and Kamba words in whatever
Gikuyu would have evolved from.
The clearest proof of this lingustic elasticity has been the tenacious
survival of Sheng-which is not English, not Kiswahili but borrows from
both of these plus Luo,Gikuyu, Luhyia,Kikamba, and a host of other
My friend Mwila tells me that in her adopted home town of Lusaka their
Sheng is called Nyanja which is a mixture of Bemba and other Zambian
language; not too many people know that Lingala began as a kind of Sheng
among Congolese soldiers; in Johannesberg the argot is called
“tsostitaal"(tsotsi means hoodlum by the way); farther afield we have the Jamaican patois of Kingston and Montego Bay; the kreolo of Port au
Prince, the creole of Martinique,Seychelles, the African-American
ebonics and the Nigerian pidgin....
You would NEVER SUSPECT that I wanted to talk about poverty in Nyanza
would you now?
I do take my SWEET TIME strolling slowly to the point, don't I?
Does it drive you up the wall?
I know exactly how you are feeling.
Believe me, I am more apopleptic at this meandering wannabe scribbler
than you are!
I spit makohozi EVERY TIME I spy his eyesore of a name anywhere online...
Kwani did he jump out of the window every time he saw the English teacher approach the class room for another precis lesson?
Such linguistic criminals and grammatical fugitives should be castrated.
Or something equally painful and drastic should be performed on them by
an untrained surgeon, if you ask me.
But did you ask me, dear reader?
2.0. Nyanza is Poor and Backward: Why?
One of the most obvious paradoxes in contemporary Kenya is the phenomenon of witnessing Nyanza province as the region in Kenya which has often boasted as allegedly having the highest per capita (unscientific surveys veering close to modern folklore) number of PhDs per square inch; this academic boast coexisting with some of the highest rates of absolute poverty in the country.
Some twisted Luophobes on the internet have said it is because Luos spend all their time worshipping their snake god
Omweri when they are not shitting into Lake Victoria or if they are men, updating their polygamous huts with additional barefooted teenage brides and infecting them with HIV through their uncircumcised dicks.
File this under “JUVENILE”.
Some rabid Gikuyuphobes from the Luo community have blamed it all on those so called “evil and conniving Kikuyus” saying, “Jorabuon ne oyako kendo ne gi iro Onagi” (the “Potato Eaters” plundered and bewitched the “People who Remove the Six Lower Teeth”) which is just as silly, simplistic and village like as it sounds in translation. When I was in Kamiti I heard a crude pseudo-socialist version of this canard which rendered the Gikuyus as Kenya’s bourgeoisie and the Luos as the proletariat. And it is soon after that that we began our political education classes to remove those stubborn cobwebs from such totally confused pitiful minds.
File this under “PAROCHIAL”.
But here is the AMAZING FACTOID.
Both sets of deranged comments are not from Nyamira, Githunguri or Chiro Mbero respectively.
I have heard these comments from Professors (some getting increasingly desperate for their tenures by the way) and very well educated Kenyan professionals living in such places like Toronto,Boston, St. Paul, Jersey City, Leeds and other cities in North America and Europe.
Obviously,the TRUTH lies elsewhere.
During the long night of KANU despotism, the fascist party’s hacks used to blame the Luo community en masse for being left out of national development plans. The official neo-colonial state propaganda went something like this: if only you Luos played ball and cooled down a bit from your political militancy and stopped following the Odingas blindly, perhaps the government would throw you a few morsels of maendeleo.
This piece of turd was swallowed whole by sections of the (so called) “Luo-Nyanza” petit-bourgeoisie who believed that if they elected pro-Kenyatta and pro- Moi scumbags to parliament poverty would disappear.
And yet when the government rigged in Odongo Omamo Ka Liech as MP for Bondo what happened?
The already substantial and corpulent mirthful former educator promptly grabbed Utonga farm and made ahois out of his many constituents, thus deepening the problem of poverty in his locale.
My dad’s Ulumbi cousin Omolo Okero did EXACTLY ZILCH for the people of Gem and Matthews Ogutu, who married one of Prof. Ogot’s sisters did even LESS for the people of Ugenya. Meanwhile in the old South Nyanza, the only lasting legacy of the Amayos and Oyugis was the network of notorious state security torturers and killers like the Butcher of Nyayo House, James Opiyo. People who went to Nairobi University in the early 1980s perhaps remember the tragic-comic figure of JJ Ouma who enrolled in the campus ostensibly to study engineering but was a straight up student informer(I have related elsewhere the night he burst into Room # 016 in Mboya Hall to find me, Mwandawiro and the late Muhoro discussing Marxism and then JJ proceeded to “strongly suggest” that perhaps we should go out and BURN DOWN A COUPLE OF POLICE STATIONS to drive a dubious point home!) He was actually arrested together with all of us in 1982- after release in 1983 he officially went to Kiganjo for the formal training. Somebody told me that he later became part of the collateral friendly fire damage of the Ouko murder mayhem.
So “maendeleo” had nothing to do with being “pro-government”.
File this under “UJINGA MTUPU”.
Among the Luo there is another competing hypothesis of equally spurious and suspicious quality:
“Wan Joluo ok wan kaka Okembo kata Adhiamo. OK waherore; ok wakonyore; wan gi nyiego kendo wahero duodore...”
"We Luos are unlike the Abagusii or the Agikuyu. We do not love and cherish each other; we do not assist each other; we are envious and jealous of each other; we like laying traps for each other and bringing each other down”.
File this also under the “SUPERFICIAL” section.
It contradicts the widespread sense of camaraderie that has given rise to the other competing stereotypes-Luos are too full of themselves and inward looking- we go to homesquared every weekend to bury strangers we are remotely related to; if we live abroad, we are preferred customers; if we live in Nairobi, Eldoret, Mombasa , Kisumu or Nakuru and we have a job, most likely we have offered a spare bed, a kitchen floor or a servant quarter to an upcountry relative who has just finished school and is desperate for work; Luos love their culture inspite of their notoriety as the “ Inglismen who remained behind omera; wan Joluo wan jo nyadhi; wan Up to DATE YAWA!”
That I will not translate-get it via linguistic osmosis.
Another tribal “explanation”from Luo haters around the world goes like this, and excuse my French:
“Luos like to f-k. That is why they are all dying of AIDS. If they only f-ked LESS and worked and saved MORE, perhaps they would not be so poor.”
File this one under“INSANE-MATHARE DESTINED”.
When I was in prison, some members of the Kenya Air Force who had just been transferred from Naivasha Maximum Security imported a cult they had started there called “Dini ya Power(after the August 1 chants)”. The leader of this sect, a very wily Luo called Ochieng convinced his otherwise intelligent fellow former soldiers that he, Ochieng, was airlifted to heaven EVERY NIGHT after lock up and he came back in the morning in time to be counted by the morning askaris taking over from the night shift. He also walked solemnly, right hand out stretched, ending in a clenched fist where resided an INVISIBLE staff downloaded through the generations from Moses' kid brother Aaron, can you believe this guy? He convinced a huge chunk of his followers not to seek medical attention when they were sick-they woke up pretty quickly after someone died.
Lately another grandson of Ramogi, one Gilbert Deya, who informed, emailed, faxed, voicemailed and telegraphed to anyone who would listen that he, Deya came FROM A FAMILY OF THIEVES and that CRIME was in HIS BLOOD, managed SOMEHOW to convince a multinational congregation of extremely gullible and dimwitted, if desperate groupies that he, Deya, could make a BARREN POST MENOPAUSAL WOMAN DELIVER THIRTEEN BOUNCING NYITHINDO IN FOUR YEARS FLAT OMERA, KENDO IWACHO ANG’O YAWA NYIEN NI BUT DO I SAY- DON’T JOKE WITH A GODLY CONMAN WHO HAS FOUND A CHURCH FULL OF EAGER VICTIMS LINING UP TO BE RELIEVED OF THEIR LIFE SAVINGS.
It is not for nothing that we Marxists say that DINI is the BHANGI of the WANANCHI.
Among a section of people who always look for metaphysical explanations both traditional and Christian, there is a firm belief that the Luos are suffering because of a terrible CHIRA or curse either from the ancestors or Jehovah and that is why Luos are stuck in a rut.
File this under “LAUGHABLE DRIVEL”.
The other things worth pointing out is that Nyanza is NOT a “Luo Province”; it is populated by Kisiis, Kuria, Abasuba, Luhyias, Kalenjins and in places like Kisumu, Kendu Bay, Homa Bay, Yala, Oyugis, Migori etc, by Kikuyus, Somalis, Wahindi, Wazungu, Waarabu, Waswahili, Tanzanian and Ugandan immigrants and many other communities.
And like I indicated at the beginning, not all Luos live in Nyanza. People like Oloo are going to soon seek an audience with that Luhyia chauvinist called Dr. Bonny Khalwale-the one who provided an anti-dote to Raila’s Luo rituals at Wamalwa’s funeral; the same Khalwale who was warning Moody Awori to stick to Nyanza which is “LDP” territory while Western if “FORD-K” country. Khalwale will tell me whether Western Province belongs to his grandfather.
This of course confuses the one track minded tribalists who like slotting people into neat ethnic pigeon holes.
And for folks like that, I propose a permanent solution.
Instead of scowling while frowning wondering what to call these diverse people who call Nyanza home and all those Luos who live outside Nyanza side by side with other communities- to solve that huge labeling problem, I propose, I coin, I unleash a word that has NEVER BEEN USED BY A TRIBALIST BEFORE.
Try it, you will get used to it with practice.
What is this term?
Let us SUMMARIZE the pseudo explanations for Nyanza’s backwardness.
Let us do this by simply recalling the sections under which they were filed:
INSANE MATHARE MATERIAL
I have run out of the STUPID EXCUSES I have over and over and over and over again.
Time to get a little bit more serious.
3.0.What is Uneven Development?
This is a term that was first fully formulated by Lenin almost one hundred years ago and it talks about how capitalism develops in contradictory ways both within the boundaries of a single country, across regions and a global scale. Well known examples include South Africa under apartheid where you basically had two nations and two economies co-existing within the confines of a single racist state; some have cited the North/South divide within Nigeria, Uganda, Italy, Sudan and other parts of the world.
The detailed examination of these cited regions is outside the scope of this essay. Suffice to say that there is an overlaying of political to economic, cultural and social factors that end up reinforcing existing patterns of domination/ marginalization. For instance, if you look at Sudan today, we see the uneven development between North and South, even though ironically, the South is POTENTIALLY wealthier than the North.
Some guys on some Marxist mailing list gave these examples:
When we come to our own country Kenya and look at our colonial history, we see how the beberus practiced uneven development blatantly. Infrastructure development and improvement tended to coincide with the areas where the powers that be were interested in and helps to explain the social and economic disparities between towns and the countryside, various districts and provinces and even within individual towns, districts and provinces. A look at the Eastlands in Nairobi and Westlands in the same city should make obvious what I am trying to say. Across the country the so called Northern Frontier District stood out like a sore thumb: not only was it hived off from the rest of the colony; it was closed for semi-permanent military operations that were the very antithesis of development. Large chunks of the Coast Province, the upper northerly reaches of the Rift Valley were similarly ignored.
And even in those areas of so called “development” there was still a development of underdevelopment as the walowezi grabbed the land and made their former owners into ahoi, and later, the first generation of agricultural workers.
In the colonial era, the Nyanza region(which included present day Western Province) was seen largely as a labour reservoir and that is why to a certain extent the imperialist expended a tiny fraction of its inhabitants got the benefit of a colonial education unleashed in a racist, alienating Christian learning environment.
In their "Swahili: Idiom and Identity of an African People (1994), Al Amin Mazrui and Ibrahim Noor Sherrif cite a 1917 memo from a British colonial functionary in the then British East African Protectorate who specifically warned against the potency of the emergence of a Kenyan nationalism and urged for the fostering of a divide and conquer tactic of using ethnic groups and regions against each other. This is a partial explanation for the formation in the 1920s of groups Kikuyu Central Association, the Ukambani Members Association, the Taita Hills Association and the Kavirondo Tax Payers Association on regional and ethnic lines rather than national lines. Even the early trade unions had to follow the dictates of this early version of apartheid in Kenya. And here we see some of the earliest seeds of ethnic based patronage contests among the Kenyan elite- a contradictory process that saw aspiring Kenyan NATIONALISTS use essentially tribal foot ladders to climb to the national stage while using those same ethnic formations as a bulwark against their regional rivals from across the country. In a sense these early Kenyan organizations of the 1920s are the progenitors of the NAKs, the FORDs , the LDPs and so on of the early 21st century
4.0. The Marginalization of the Maasai and Other Pastoral Kenyan communities
Often many Kenyans ignore almost daily press reports about clashes between the Pokot and the Turkana and other conflicts affecting other pastoral communities.
It has been interesting to watch the relative indifference with which the Maasai demands click here for respecting yet another historical MOU has been repelled once more with NARC government truncheons, rifle butts and similar manifestations of neo-colonial state repression.
Ntinai Moiyare was killed on Saturday, August 21.
Thirteen people were arrested on August 24, 2004.
I was not totally surprised to see this British version in the so called
When it comes to defending historically entrenched imperialist interests, the superficial nationalism of the Scots disappear…
And if you need further proof that the Amos Kimunyas are nothing more than modern day homungati then just browse through this dispatch to a Cape Town paper
and this other South African outlet
Kimunya claims that his regime cannot go back to agreements signed in 1904; heck this outfit cannot go back to agreements signed on October 21, 2002!
In fact it was TOTALLY APPROPRIATE that on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the death of the notorious land grabber who sired the notorious Taita-Taveta District telephone farmer-it was totally appropriate for this sell out regime to send heavily armed para military forces to brutally quell yet anotherMaasai protest
I am silently studying the public reactions of William ole Ntimama in the light of the following
Regarding that last two quotes from the Standard I wonder what is going through Mr Lie Low Like an Envelope’s mind right about now. I mean here is part of a government that is openly, contemptuously and arrogantly telling the Maasai to shove it.
What I fail to fathom on a daily basis is the acute obtuseness of the NAK gang. Do these jokers remember Enoosupukia and other theatres of ethnic slaughter and how these were grafted on simmering historical grievances such as the Maasai ones currently boiling to the surface?
IS THIS,the “government of national unity”?
I wrote the paragraph above BEFORE seeing these news item from later editions of the same paper:
and this is from the Kenya Times
And I have not forgotten these words from Ntimama's own submission to the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission:
“During the advent of colonialism most African communities lost their land
to the marauding colonialists. It is the Maasai Community, which lost most
of the land, which was turned into European Settlement–they lost millions
of acres of land. Unwritten History shows that there was a massive forceful
movement of the Maasai Community from their lands and territories of the
Rift Valley to what was known as Southern Reserves. We lost hundreds of
young morans who were trying to resist the push, women and children died of
hunger and exhaustion the livestock was confiscated to feed British troops.
The Maasai were the first community to challenge the illegal forceful
removal from their lands. We took our case to the highest Court in the
British Empire, the Privy Council. Unfortunately we lost the Court case and
lost in the battlefield.
“A noble and moral crusade is gathering momentum round the world where
victims of oppression, repression and dispossession are struggling to be
compensated for lost lands and territories and for reparation for lost
lives. What Kenyatta bequeathed the children of Mumbi in his book of Facing
Mount Kenya is relevant to the Maasai. The children of Lemayian and
Naipanoy, the dead, the living and the unborn will always say ‘give us back
our lands’. This is directed to heirs and successors…”
Incidentally, the situation is no better across the border in Tanzania
And if you think land claims are a joking matter, check out what is happening with Indigenous people in Canada. The Maasai, potentially have some VERY POWERFUL international friends and believe me the Kenya Democracy Project will not even wait for the invitation to pass on the relevant contacts:
On a separate note, I was speaking to one of my older, wiser political friends earlier this evening and he was pointing out something that I had not thought about:
One aspect of those Maasai/British agreements that is often overlooked has to do with the fact that when the beberus were negotiating with the Maasais, the rights of the so called “Dorobo” (who in some cases were not only more numerous but had greater claims to the land the Maasai called their own) were completely ignored by the colonialists who were drunk with the myth of the “noble savage” and deluded themselves that the tall “majestic looking” Maasai were the “natural” rulers and owners of the land. So this issue may be a tinderbox in more ways than one.
5.0. Uneven Development and the Development of Under Development in Nyanza
What I have been endeavouring to say for the last thirteen pages is that poverty in any part of Kenya cannot be blamed on the victims of poverty; nor is it a simplistic ethnic vendetta by one tribe against another.
_Rather poverty and marginalization in Kenya is a manifestation of the survival of the political economy of neocolonialism in our country. We know the flipside of poverty is the opulence of the horticultural billionaires, the sugar importing tycoons and the mitumba monopolists.
Money is being made in Kenya on a daily basis, hand over fist, even as yet another child goes hungry.
We mentioned that during the seventies Omamo Ka Liech literally became the elephant of his nickname from slurping at the trough.
Today in the same Nyanza there is emerge a coterie of very wealthy individuals of whom Tuju, Raila, the Ominos (not sure about the Amayos, Otienos, Okundis and Oyugis) are but a sample who are quietly accumulating their wealth. Whichever side of the NARC wrangle they are on, they NEED THE NEO-COLONIAL state to make their next couple of dozen millions.
And that means that they will DIRECTLY contribute to the further IMPOVERISHEMENT of Nyanza whether they intend to or not.’
Some people may find this startling given Raphael Tujus’s track record as one of the most generous and self-effacing benefactors in the 9th Parliament and Raila’s very public involvement with the Molasses plant.
But more of that in a second.
My point is a very basic one.
The Kenyan neo-colonial state is a coercive vehicle(if in doubt ask any Maasai moran tomorrow)that is geared towards ANCHORING Kenya and Kenyans directly into the vortex of the world monopoly capitalist economy.
That directly means that there will be “development“ in Kenya alright- but just the DEVELOPMENT OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT.
In fact the more the Tujus contribute to “constituency development projects” the closer we can track the rate at which they are amassing personal fortunes via the agency of the state.
6.0. The Molasses Plant as a Political Community Symbol
Whatever else it is, the Molasses plant in Kisumu is NOT a scandal on the scale of Goldenberg.
From the available evidence in the public domain, it is becoming clearer everyday that a bunch of twisted tribalists are trying, like I said to use it as a red herring to divert attention from the other real scandals like Anglo-Fleecing for instance.
Here is what Sammy K. Mwaita the former Land Commissioner
had to say about the matter
Here is Oduor Ongwen
What I am not sure however is the long term economic viability of the Molasses plant.
For today I will defer to some cautionary words from my buddy Adongo Ogony who happens to come from Bondo:
The so-called Molases coruption is a twisted story. First of all we know the Kamandas are not concerned about land in Kisumu. They are out to tell Kenyans that corruption is an equal opportunity activity in Kenya and nobody should blame Kibaki. They are already calling for a commission of inquiry.
Secondly the desperate nature of the attack on the Odinga family tells me someone is truly scared about this Anglo Fleecing crew and there is an attempt to widen the scope of the consequences that might have to come down.
On July 4, 2004 Kibaki was given the Ndungu report commisioned by the Minister for Lands Mr. Kimunya. The purpose of that study was to look into all lands that was stolen from the government or the public. If Raila is one of the people in the list he should get no special treatment. I bet you if his name was there that report would be in the public domain as we speak.
So to people like Kamale why don't we all demand that the president makes public the Ndungu report and let Kenyans know the people who stole our land instead of a personal vendetta against Odinga. Why is Kibaki sitting on the report and everybody is yapping about stolen land.
Now let me tell you the real fraud on the Molasses business. I don't know how the land was valued or any other detail even though I think Raila's statement seems valid. But the true fraud in this saga is the nonsense being peddled by people like Oburu that they are just about to revive the plant. I find that to be really annoying because I know for a fact that nothing is going to be produced at the Molasses plant any time soon.
The molasses plant was a brilliant idea which had it not been killed by corrupt politicians would have been a masterpiece in the East African region. This was meant to be a state of the art industrial complex that would produce multiple products including liquid fuels, chemicals products etc. It was to use the excess sugar produced in the region. This was the time when the sugar industry was doing very well and sugarcane farming was at its peak. It was envisaged that with the plant in place the sugar production would expand and the entire economy of the region would get a boost.
Those circumstances do not exist any more. The sugar industry is in crisis. Cane farming is a dying.
Add to that the so-called assets of Molasses plant is nothing more than rotting boilers and steel pipes that are actually an eye sore when I get on my way to my beloved Bondo town from Kisumu. I don't know what those boilers and pipes are worth but anybody telling you that they will soon be churning out ethanol etc is lying.
Lastly I think it is about time the Luo MPs stopped this myth that the community needs the molasses plant to bring development in the area. There are a million things in the area that could generate industrial and commercial development. We need to modernise agriculture, invest in tractors for farming, invest in ginneries and encourage commercial cotton farming. Things like fish farming which the area is ideal for should be looked into and ways found to encourage individuals and families to explore that very lucrative form of farming.
There is need for the government to seriously look into into water harvesting to avoid the nonsense of having floods in one day and drought the next day. We have enough water in the area but do not control it and the end result is that it simply washes our fertile land into the lake. I read somewhere about a Canadian firm that wants to use the hyacinth to make fertlizers. I hope Kamanda doesn't get all worked up again.
What I am saying is that I have been hearing about this molases plant for a generation now. Lets put it to rest and figure what to do with the garbage they left behind. May be we could down scale it, do a feasiblity study and start something different…(Adongo Ogony, writing in the Mambogani online forum)
My own view is that the Molasses Plant is potent as a community symbol _irrespective of its commercial viability or otherwise.
The passion has very little with whether the plant will ever produce anything.
It has more to do with a community’s pride and honour.
In the 1970s Kenyatta’s bureaucrats openly blamed poverty and underdevelopment in Nyanza on the alleged “rebellious” nature of the Luo community, the resentment of large sections of this community was visceral, palpable and very personal because it was seen for what it was- a petty minded jibe and jab that used collective punishment techniques to get back at an entire region because of Oginga Odinga’s gall in walking out of KANU and forming KPU. In the early 1980s when Jaramogi had his brief rapprochement with Moi as head of the Cotton and Lint Marketing Board, his tenure was invested with a symbolic significance far in excess of his actual powers and effectiveness. Likewise the “Kopareson” phase of Raila Odinga’s dalliance with KANU was viewed among many Luos in Nyanza in a way which continued to baffle those of us who remained Marxist-Leninists and Luos..
And this had to do with the following FACT:
Members of the Luo community in Nyanza have always seen themselves as KENYANS first. They have always wanted to advance and develop as Kenyans. In fact if this community has a collective so called “fault” it has been that IT HAS NEVER BEEN as “selfish” and as INWARD looking compared to other communities that I could easily name were I so inclined. From Jaramogi’s deference to Kenyatta as a prerequisite for Kenyan independence in the early 1960s to Raila’s “Kibaki Tosha” rallying cry in the early 21st century and going back to Mboya’s fierce loyalty to Kenyatta rather than Jaramogi and Ouko’s fealty to Moi rather than the Odinga family you see scions and icons of the Luo community CONSCIOUSLY SACRIFICING THEIR INDIVIDUAL DREAMS OF PERSONAL POWER for the greater good.
That is why it has been SIMPLY DERANGED to see the NAK propaganda of Raila Odinga as a power maniac or the Makau Mutua caricature of the Luo community as an ethnic group that has its own tribal agenda. Anyways, let me stay away from “politics” for a second and go back to economics.
Like I was saying, Luos in Nyanza have always RECOGNIZED that the province does not belong to them; it is NOT AN ACCIDENT that Kisumu was the first municipality in Kenya if I am not mistaken to have a Kenyan of South Asian descent as a mayor. Speaking from my own personal family experience, I can attest that members of the Luo community are among the most open communities to inter-marriage- I have Gikuyu, Kamba,Luhyia, Sukuma, Kisii, Maasai,Swedish, British, American,Kalenjin, Swahili, Indian, Somali and other cousins, aunts, uncles, in laws and what have you. Members of the Luo community have never hesitated to resettle in whichever part of Kenya- Tom Mboya was raised in Central Province; Suzzana Owiyo was born and raised in Thika; I have said it about 567 times that I was born in Nakuru, baptized in Muranga, raised in Embu, Mweru, Machakos, Kisii, Nairobi, Kisa, Mombasa and elsewhere. Nyanza itself is culturally, racially and religiously very diverse. Apart from the Kenyans of South Asian descent and ethnic Somalis who speak FLUENT Luo in Homa Bay, Yala and Kisumu, you have the vibrant Muslim community in Kendu Bay thriving side by side to the Gendia SDA mission in those environs. And of course, contrary to the tribal disinformation, Gikuyu speaking Kisumu businessmen and women encounter no hostility wheeling and dealing in the Lakeside town.
And I must say this:
With all the 24/7 ethnic blathering all over Kenyan cyberspace circles about kihii this and kihii that zunga this and zunga that, Luo men anywhere in Kenya HAVE NEVER encountered ANY PROBLEMS dating Gikuyu, Kisii, Kamba, Swahili, Digo or any other Bantu women in Kenya (or Canada for that matter). And judging from the millions of sexually sated non Luo Kenyan women who have coupled and copulated copiously with my often frisky kinsmen, I do not think that Luo men have ever been accosted, accused, tried and convicted of the unpardonable felony of being even mildly inept in the amorous department. Luo men are of course, NOT INTERESTED in picking up the handful of sexually CONFUSED Bantu MEN who are OBSESSED about whether or not all Kenyan males should or should not retain their foreskins as a made in the gicagi yardstick of get this: “courage” and “maturity”. In fact, let me venture to say that the bizarre and ongoing NEUROTIC preoccupation with PENILE REDESIGN and COSMETIC MALE GENITAL MUTILIATION among some born in Kenya tribalists online has often led me to speculate that these gibbering buffoons are actually closeted homosexuals secretly fantasizing and hankering for an orgasmic night out with a Luo brother, or if they are straight, simply sexually insecure men with microscopic equipment stashed away in their groins. Those to me are the only CREDIBLE explanations as to why GROWN KENYAN MEN, living in COSMOPOLITAN OVERSEAS environments would REDUCE inter-community Kenyan social discourse to ONE HUNDRED PERCENT IDIOTIC round the clock yabbering and yammering about “facing the knife” from dawn to dusk and way past midnight…
Incidentally, I will NOT BE SHOCKED if the above paragraph is the only one in this very long essay these closeted and genitally underwhelmed tribalists remember to latch on. Check out who is the FIRST, the SECOND and the THIRD to open their oral orifices to yap exclusively about this paragaph just gone as you compile your long list of Kenyan men online with interesting sexual dilemmas. Perhaps they should form a support group called TILUPIA, short for The Incorrigible Luo Phobic IMBECILES Anonymous(and some of them, like the mad professor with the Luo blood coursing unhappily in his veins are already founding life members).
Moving right along….
Due to this diversity and open ness to live among Kenyans anywhere,many of the Luos that I know (as opposed to the caricatures I encountered on the internet) would not see “maendeleo” in Nyanza divorced from overall national development in other parts of Kenya- where they and their other multi-ethnic relatives live.
That is why it was unfortunate,to see in the dying years of the unlamented Moi dictatorship a descent into insanity as Nyanza province was POLITICALLY partitioned into so called “Luo Nyanza” and “Gusii and Kuria” Nyanza. This kabilastanization of one of Kenya’s most diverse regions served the purpose of the neo-colonial states of separating the “good” ethnic groups from the “bad” ones, and further to see who are the “good guys” among the bad ethnic groups and who were the “bad guys” among the good ethnic groups- “good” here being an appellation reserved for those individual elite groups seen to be adapt at slavishly and lasciviously licking the derriere of the powers that be. Later it degenerated into the madness of elevating eleven villages into entire districts, a gerrymeandering campaign whose chickens Koigi wa Wamwere was later to assert were found to be roosting far away in the Bomas of Kenya….
The KANU era(and error) “District Focus” approach to so called “development planning” was an unmitigated disaster and ghastly joke and that is why I recoiled in absolute horror when I saw the district being retained as the unit for development at Bomas. Another good friend of mine who was active as a delegate in the national constitutional conference revealed to me that the behind the scenes plan was to go with the region as the most viable unit for economic planning but what threw everything in chaos was when Yash Pal Ghai came from one of those arm-twisting sessions with that discredited Sulumeti outfit to suggest to the Bomas delegates what appeared to them to be a sellout and therefore, they did not even debate the viability of the district before retaining this structure into the Zero Draft.
In my view, contemporary and future Kenyan administrative units SHOULD NOT coincide with ETHNIC demarcations.
I actually think that I am a richer more textured Kenyan because I grew up in a village in Kakamega District that had as many Luo speakers as it had Luhyia; I consider myself blessed to have been born in Nakuru and shaped by the cosmopolitan ambience and milieu of Nairobi but most especially Mombasa; and I KNOW that Suzzana Owiyo has a deep repertoire of multi-cultural inspirations to draw from when she composes her music based on the fact that she is a Gikuyu speaking Luo who was born in Thika and went to school in Nyakach; the Pumwani hospital born and Nairobi raised, Mombasa residing Sheng speaking Poxi Presha has told me the same thing; please add your own examples.
Just realized that I veered of course, off course in completing my remarks on the symbolism of the Molasses Plant.
It means a lot to Luos in Nyanza because of what it SYMBOLIZES.
The Molasses Plant symbolizes one of the few TANGIBLE pointers in Nyanza that speaks to at an attempt to initiate concrete development efforts, create jobs and improve livelihoods in a region that has long been demonized, maliciously isolated by Central Government mandarins and used by successive neo-colonial regimes in much the same way the British colonialists abused and isolated the old Central Province. In the 1950s, the “bad ethnics” were the so called “Kyuks”; in the 1960s and 1970s it was the Somalis and Luos; in the 1980s and 1990s it was back to the Agikuyu and it appears in the early years of the 21st century, it is rapidly beginning to appear that all the “bad ethnics” live outside the Mount Kenya region. Let me emphasize that this bigotry is at THE LEVEL OF THE SELFISH ELITES because REGULAR KENYANS HAVE NO PROBLEMS INTERACTING WITH EACH OTHER.
In my opinion, it is the SYMBOLIC IMPORTANCE of the Molasses plant that has seen so many people rally to its defence and THIS ESPECIALLY SO after KNOWN LUOPHOBES tried to manufacture an artificial scandal to DIVERT ATTENTION from the accusing fingers pointing at Messrs Murungaru, Mwiraria and Company Limited.
Having said all that, I must agree with my comrade Adongo Ogony that Nyanza can do better than an ethanol plant to jump start regional development.
And it is to this sub-theme that I must now turn.
7.0. JUMP- STARTING REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT in Nyanza
Nyanza, like virtually all other parts of Kenya represents a lot of untapped potential.
The very backwardness and poverty of Nyanza shows its potential prosperity. The very uneven development and development of underdevelopment in the region is a pointer to what integrated development plans can do to transform this parlous condition into its opposite.
Marxists confound a lot of people. On the one hand, we are the secular equivalent to Jesuits in our attention to detail and we are notorious for our focus on getting hyperorganized for political action. At the same time we like venturing into philosophy when it comes time to ponder economic problems.
Are we running away from hali halisi?
Well, stay with me and let us see.
The Marxist philosophical framework for economic planning.
Marxist-Leninists talk about dialectics, contradictions and praxis a lot.
In a nutshell this is how we look at the world:
Everything is connected to everything else. Things blossom organically from lower to higher forms, but not in a linear or mechanical fashion; there is an inner tension embedded in all social, political, economic, cultural and technical processes that move things along even as they pull in different directions; human beings, especially working human beings are actors rather than spectators in the historical arena.
The above statement is the very SIMPLIFIED version of very complex Marxist concepts. To find out more information about dialectical materialism, “contradiction” etc please consult this Marxist Encyclopedia
Armed with this theoretical framework let me now tackle the question of regional economic development in Nyanza.
In the first place, one has to see Nyanza as an ASPECT of a WHOLE entity. The whole entity is of course Kenya.
You cannot plan for that aspect in isolation from the whole.
Then one has to see the political economy of Nyanza not just in economic and political terms but in historical and geographical terms as well. In other words, you cannot ignore the colonial legacy, the neo-colonial baggage or the future aspirations of the people in the region.
When I was traveling from Nairobi via Kisumu to my village of Luanda Doho past Yala last October, I had no trouble making my way.
Because hardly ANYTHING HAD CHANGED by the wayside since I past this way going back to Mombasa after the school holidays in August 1974! And that had not changed from 4 year old memories from 1964!
OK. Slight exaggeration for dramatic effect.
How could I miss humungous satellite dishes past Ahero just before Kisumu or the red tiled mansions around Yala township or the isolated sleek commercial buildings in the outskirts of Kisumu?
But was this “development”?
A tarmac road leading to a former PC’s home?
A septic tank in the compound of a sitting MP?
An imported Alsatian barking after a 4WD speeding away?
Rural kids playing with toys from Norway?
A goat herd sending an SMS from their Safaricom mobile?
A brand new Nando outlet rolled out from J’orburg?
A BMW splashing you with red stained puddles?
A grandmother deleting junk mail from her yahoo account?
A school teacher correctly answering the secret question before getting the dineros wired via Western Union from his niece in Boston?
I do not think I am launching a major controversy if I stated quite plainly that considering its well educated population, its strategic location at the intersections of at least three countries and its proximity to a huge East and Central African market, Nyanza as a whole remains one of the most backward and impoverished regions of Kenya.
And remember to cross out those stupid pseudo- reasons adduced to at the beginning of this work
I said that Nyanza is an aspect of the Kenya WHOLE.
Kenya in turn, is an aspect of the East and Central African regional WHOLe, which in turn is an aspect of the African WHOLE, which is an aspect of the Southern whole, which is a portion of the Global whole.
Have you ever seen those dainty boxes in a box?
Kinda looks like this:
Of course, the context above is Biblical-somebody was trying to clarify something in the Book of Revelations, but I will use to explain the symbiosis between the micro Nyanza economy and the global world capitalist economy.
The tiniest box is labelled "Nyanza".
It is inside a slighter bigger box called "Kenya";
Which is tucked inside the sanduku dubbed "East and Central Africa";
Which is stashed away in the box called "Africa";
Which is dipped into the box called the "South";
Which is inside the biggest box of all captioned "World Capitalist Economy".
If you take Nyanza out of any of those boxes, it does not make sense to anyone but one of those Don and Donna Quixotes you encounter in cyberspace advocating for an autochthonous fiefdom of Ramogi.
In my opinion you cannot talk about economic and regional development in Nyanza without taking into consideration the wider Kenyan, East and Central African as well as the contintental, hemispheric and global economic picture.
Nyanza’s economy is a subset of the Kenyan neo-colonial economy which is a dependent appendage of the world capitalist economy. With the globalizing converging and marginalizing forces of the TNCs, the IFIs as well as the rebirth of the previously battered economies of Uganda, Tanzania, southern Sudan and hopefully the Congo in the not too distant future, the fate of even the humblest apoth peddler in Chiro Mbero or a future cyber-cafe owner in Migori is intertwined with what Biwott may or may not do with his horticultural holdings in Naivasha(is that what they are) or what the same tight lipped megatycoon may be planning to do about real estate in Lokichoggio- not subtracting any speculative currency runs by that cynical manipulator George Soros or Mr Pace Maker Cheney with his Haliburton shares....
Looking at the Kenyan economy this way, it is not difficult to figure out why I think that the district is too tiny to be a viable economic planning unit.
My civil society friends who are into micro-finance and micro-credit- including my younger sister Janet in South Africa will note that I am left completely unimpressed by the reputed strides in the so called micro-credit revolution. Neither am I enthused by NGO aficionados who are dreaming up one more "community-based self help project".
Quite frankly, many of these make work make believe pseudo- development projects end up only benefiting the middle managers of the NGOs which spawn them as proposals to this or that funder.
These well-meant initiatives may for example teach some villagers how to make some soap for home use, but will not anticipate how the Unilivers of the universe make nonsense of those fantasies of local economic paradise.
The fact is that millions of Kenyans living in the countryside maybe subsisting in 19th century conditiions-but they do wake up every day to a 21st century sun and sky. And this is a networked, interdependent world where even the remotest latrine has been infiltrated either by toilet paper from a local affiliate of a Proctor like octopus or last week's newspapers harvested from a stable run by the Aga Khan, Moi, Kibaki, Kangwana, Matiba or whomever...
In taking this approach,I will freely admit that MY BRAIN WAS SOAKED, SPUN, RINSED and DRIED by this essay from James Petras
With these following paragraphs having particular resonance with what I am saying here:
In reality non-governmental organizations are not non-governmental. They receive funds from overseas governments or work as private subcontractors of local governments. Frequently they openly collaborate with governmental agencies at home or overseas. This "subcontracting" undermines professionals with fixed contracts, replacing them with contingent professionals. The NGOs cannot provide the long-term comprehensive programs that the welfare state can furnish. Instead they provide limited services to narrow groups of communities. More importantly, their programs are not accountable to the local people but to overseas donors. In that sense NGOs undermine democracy by taking social programs out of the hands of the local people and their elected officials to create dependence on non-elected, overseas officials and their locally anointed officials.
NGOs shift people's attention and struggles away from the national budget and toward self-exploitation to secure local social services. This allows the neoliberals to cut social budgets and transfer state funds to subsidize bad debts of private banks, and provide loans to exporters. Self exploitation (self-help) means that, in addition to paying taxes to the state and not getting anything in return, working people have to work extra hours with marginal resources, and expend scarce energies to obtain services that the bourgeoisie continues to receive from the state. More fundamentally, the NGO ideology of "private voluntaristic activity" undermines the sense of the "public": the idea that the government has an obligation to look after its citizens and provide them with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that the political responsibility of the state is essential for the well-being of citizens. Against this notion of public responsibility, the NGOs foster the neoliberal idea of private responsibility for social problems and the importance of private resources to solve these problems. In effect they impose a double burden on the poor who continue to pay taxes to finance the neoliberal state to serve the rich, but are left with private self-exploitation to take care of their own needs.
NGOs emphasize projects, not movements; they "mobilize" people to produce at the margins but not to struggle to control the basic means of production and wealth; they focus on technical financial assistance of projects, not on structural conditions that shape the everyday lives of people. The NGOs co-opt the language of the left: "popular power," "empowerment," "gender equality," "sustainable development," "bottom-up leadership." The problem is that this language is linked to a framework of collaboration with donors and government agencies that subordinate practical activity to non-confrontational politics. The local nature of NGO activity means that "empowerment" never goes beyond influencing small areas of social life, with limited resources, and within the conditions permitted by the neoliberal state and macro-economy.
The NGOs and their post-Marxist professional staff directly compete with the socio-political movements for influence among the poor, women, and the racially excluded. Their ideology and practice diverts attention from the sources and solutions of poverty (looking downward and inward instead of upward and outward). To speak of micro-enterprises, instead of the elimination of exploitation by the overseas banks, as the solution, is based on the notion that the problem is one of individual initiative rather than the transference of income overseas. The NGO's aid affects small sectors of the population, setting up competition between communities for scarce resources, generating insidious distinctions and inter- and intra-community rivalries, thus undermining class solidarity. The same is true among the professionals: each sets up its NGO to solicit overseas funds. They compete by presenting proposals more congenial to the overseas donors, while claiming to speak for their followers.
The net effect is a proliferation of NGOs that fragment poor communities into sectoral and sub-sectoral groupings unable to see the larger social picture that afflicts them and even less able to unite in struggle against the system. Recent experience also demonstrates that foreign donors finance projects during "crises"—political and social challenges to the status quo. Once the movements have ebbed they shift funding to NGO-style "collaboration," fitting the NGO projects into the neoliberal agenda. Economic development compatible with the "free market" rather than social organization for social change becomes the dominant item on the funding agenda.
The structure and nature of NGOs, with their "apolitical" posture and their focus on self-help, depoliticizes and demobilizes the poor. They reinforce the electoral processes encouraged by the neoliberal parties and mass media. Political education about the nature of imperialism, and the class basis of neoliberalism, the class struggle between exporters and temporary workers, are avoided. Instead the NGOs discuss "the excluded," the "powerless," "extreme poverty," "gender or racial discrimination," without moving beyond the superficial symptom to the social system that produces these conditions. Incorporating the poor into the neoliberal economy through purely "private voluntary action," the NGOs create a political world where the appearance of solidarity and social action cloaks a conservative conformity with the international and national structure of power.
It is no coincidence that as NGOs have become dominant in certain regions, independent class political action has declined, and neoliberalism goes uncontested. The bottom line is that the growth of NGOs coincides with increased funding under neoliberalism and the deepening of poverty everywhere. Despite the claims of many local successes, the overall power of neoliberalism stands unchallenged and the NGOs increasingly search for niches in the interstices of power...
If you go back to the Molasses example, some of the indicators to its long term viability is whether it has forward and backward linkages to the Kenyan, East and Central African, the continental, the South to South and the global economy.
Yes or no?
It is your assignment, not mine...
8.0. Can Oloo Give Us Some of His So Called Marxist- Leninist Solutions to Poverty In Nyanza?
What have I been doing...let me bite my tongue and cut off the expletive that I was about to spit out....
Everything I have said SO FAR- yes including the Luo naming system has been CAREFULLY and CONSCIOUSLY crafted to answer this very question.
You, yes YOU, I am talking to you dammit, LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC READER, yes you guys have maligned Communists for too long.
For example on the question of the economy there is this MYTH that all Marxists do all day is to OBSESS about CENTRAL PLANNING and NATIONALIZING ZEBU CATTLE- and of course your private CD collection and your precious stash of white chocolate and fresh mahamri.
Nothing of course, could be FARTHER from the truth.
Now, even more than Marx, you do not get any more communist than comrade Vladimir Illych Ulyanov, better known as Lenin. Yet this was the guy who dreamed up the NEP-an economic program with unabashed capitalistic elements
Serious Marxist-Leninists follow the following dictum of Amilcar Cabral, the famous revolutionary leader from Cabo Verde and Guinea Bissau:
We note, however, that one form of struggle which we consider to be fundamental has not been explicitly mentioned in this programme, although we are certain that it was present in the minds of those who drew up the programme. We refer here to the struggle against our own weaknesses. Obviously, other cases differ from that of Guinea; but our experience has shown us that in the general framework of daily struggle this battle against ourselves — no matter what difficulties the enemy may create — is the most difficult of all, whether for the present or the future of our peoples. This battle is the expression of the internal contradictions in the economic, social, cultural (and therefore historical) reality of each of our countries. We are convinced that any national or social revolution which is not based on knowledge of this fundamental reality runs grave risk of being condemned to failure.
When the African peoples say in their simple language that “no matter how hot the water from your well, it will not cook your rice,” they express with singular simplicity a fundamental principle, not only of physics, but also of political science. We know that the development of a phenomenon in movement, whatever its external appearance, depends mainly on its internal characteristics. We also know that on the political level our own reality — however fine and attractive the reality of others may be — can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by our own sacrifices. It is useful to recall in this Tricontinental gathering, so rich in experience and example, that however great the similarity between our various cases and however identical our enemies, national liberation and social revolution are not exportable commodities; they are, and increasingly so every day, the outcome of local and national elaboration, more or less influenced by external factors (be they favorable or unfavorable) but essentially determined and formed by the historical reality of each people, and carried to success by the overcoming or correct solution of the internal contradictions between the various categories characterising this reality. The success of the Cuban revolution, taking place only 90 miles from the greatest imperialist and anti-socialist power of all time, seems to us, in its content and its way of evolution, to be a practical and conclusive illustration of the validity of this principle.
However we must recognize that we ourselves and the other liberation movements in general(referring here above all to the African experience) have not managed to pay sufficient attention to this important problem of our common struggle.
The ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements — which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform — constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all. We believe, however, that a sufficient number of different experiences has already been accumulated to enable us to define a general line of thought and action with the aim of eliminating this deficiency. A full discussion of this subject could be useful, and would enable this conference to make a valuable contribution towards strengthening the present and future actions of the national liberation movements. This would be a concrete way of helping these movements, and in our opinion no less important than political support or financial assistance for arms and suchlike.
It is with the intention of making a contribution, however modest, to this debate that we present here our opinion of the foundations and objectives of national liberation in relation to the social structure. This opinion is the result of our own experiences of the struggle and of a critical appreciation of the experiences of others. To those who see in it a theoretical character, we would recall that every practice produces a theory, and that if it is true that a revolution can fail even though it be based on perfectly conceived theories, nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory.
Those who affirm — in our case correctly — that the motive force of history is the class struggle would certainly agree to a revision of this affirmation to make it more precise and give it an even wider field of application if they had a better knowledge of the essential characteristics of certain colonized peoples, that is to say peoples dominated by imperialism. In fact in the general evolution of humanity and of each of the peoples of which it is composed, classes appear neither as a generalized and simultaneous phenomenon throughout the totality of these groups, nor as a finished, perfect, uniform and spontaneous whole. The definition of classes within one or several human groups is a fundamental consequence of the progressive development of the productive forces and of the characteristics of the distribution of the wealth produced by the group or usurped from others. That is to say that the socio-economic phenomenon ‘class’ is created and develops as a function of at least two essential and interdependent variables — the level of productive forces and the pattern of ownership of the means of production. This development takes place slowly, gradually and unevenly, by quantitative and generally imperceptible variations in the fundamental components; once a certain degree of accumulation is reached, this process then leads to a qualitative jump, characterized by the appearance of classes and of conflict between them.
Factors external to the socio-economic whole can influence, more or less significantly, the process of development of classes, accelerating it, slowing it down and even causing regressions. When, for whatever reason, the influence of these factors ceases, the process reassumes its independence and its rhythm is then determined not only be the specific internal characteristics of the whole, but also by the resultant of the effect produced in it by the temporary action of the external factors. On a strictly internal level the rhythm of the process may vary, but it remains continuous and progressive. Sudden progress is only possible as a function of violent alterations — mutations — in the level of productive forces or in the pattern of ownership. These violent transformations carried out within the process of development of classes, as a result of mutations in the level of productive forces or in the pattern of ownership, are generally called, in economic and political language, revolutions.
Clearly, however, the possibilities of this process are noticeably influenced by external factors, and particularly by the interaction of human groups. This interaction is considerably increased by the development of means of transport and communication which as created the modern world, eliminating the isolation of human groups within one area, of areas within one continent, and between continents. This development, characteristic of a long historical period which began with the invention of the first means of transport, was already more evident at the time of the Punic voyages and in the Greek colonization, and was accentuated by maritime discoveries, the invention of the steam engine and the discovery of electricity. And in our own times, with the progressive domesticization of atomic energy it is possible to promise, if not to take men to the stars, at least to humanize the universe.
This leads us to pose the following question: does history begin only with the development of the phenomenon of ‘class’, and consequently of class struggle? To reply in the affirmative would be to place outside history the whole period of life of human groups from the discovery of hunting, and later of nomadic and sedentary agriculture, to the organization of herds and the private appropriation of land. It would also be to consider — and this we refuse to accept — that various human groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were living without history, or outside history, at the time when they were subjected to the yoke of imperialism. It would be to consider that the peoples of our countries, such as the Balantes of Guinea, the Coaniamas of Angola and the Macondes of Mozambique, are still living today — if we abstract the slight influence of colonialism to which they have been subjected— outside history, or that they have no history.
Our refusal, based as it is on concrete knowledge of the socio-economic reality of our countries and on the analysis of the process of development of the phenomenon ‘class’, as we have seen earlier, leads us to conclude that if class struggle is the motive force of history, it is so only in a specific historical period. This means that before the class struggle — and necessarily after it, since in this world there is no before without an after — one or several factors was and will be the motive force of history. It is not difficult to see that this factor in the history of each human group is the mode of production — the level of productive forces and the pattern of ownership — characteristic of that group. Furthermore, as we have seen, classes themselves, class struggle and their subsequent definition, are the result of the development of the productive forces in conjunction with the pattern of ownership of the means of production. It therefore seems correct to conclude that the level of productive forces, the essential determining element in the content and form of class struggle, is the true and permanent motive force of history.
If we accept this conclusion, then the doubts in our minds are cleared away. Because if on the one hand we can see that the existence of history before the class struggle is guaranteed, and thus avoid for some human groups in our countries — and perhaps in our continent — the sad position of being peoples without any history, then on the other hand we can see that history has continuity, even after the disappearance of class struggle or of classes themselves. And as it was not we who postulated — on a scientific basis — the fact of the disappearance of classes as a historical inevitability, we can feel satisfied at having reached this conclusion which, to a certain extent, re-establishes coherence and at the same time gives to those peoples who, like the people of Cuba, are building socialism, the agreeable certainty that they will not cease to have a history when they complete the process of elimination of the phenomenon of ‘class’ and class struggle within their socio-economic whole. Eternity is not of this world, but man will outlive classes and will continue to produce and make history, since he can never free himself from the burden of his needs, both of mind and of body, which are the basis of the development of the forces of production.
The foregoing, and the reality of our times, allow us to state that the history of one human group or of humanity goes through at least three stages. The first is characterized by a low level of productive forces — of man’s domination over nature; the mode of production is of a rudimentary character, private appropriation of the means of production does not yet exist, there are no classes, nor, consequently, is there any class struggle. In the second stage, the increased level of productive forces leads to private appropriation of the means of production, progressively complicates the mode of production, provokes conflicts of interests within the socio-economic whole in movement, and makes possible the appearance of the phenomena ‘class’ and hence of class struggle, the social expression of the contradiction in the economic field between the mode of production and private appropriation of the means of production. In the third stage, once a certain level of productive forces is reached, the elimination of private appropriation of the means of production is made possible, and is carried out, together with the elimination of the phenomenon ‘class’ and hence of class struggle; new and hitherto unknown forces in the historical process of the socio-economic whole are then unleashed.
In politico-economic language, the first stage would correspond to the communal agricultural and cattle-raising society, in which the social structure is horizontal, without any state; the second to feudal or assimilated agricultural or agro-industrial bourgeois societies, with a vertical social structure and a state; the third to socialist or communist societies, in which the economy is mainly, if not exclusively, industrial (since agriculture itself becomes a form of industry) and in which the state tends to progressively disappear, or actually disappears, and where the social structure returns to horizontality, at a higher level of productive forces, social relations and appreciation of human values.
At the level of humanity or of part of humanity (human groups within one area, of one or several continents) these three stages (or two of them) can be simultaneous, as is shown as much by the present as by the past. This is a result of the uneven development of human societies, whether caused by internal reasons or by one or more external factors exerting an accelerating or slowing-down influence on their evolution. On the other hand, in the historical process of a given socio-economic whole each of the above-mentioned stages contains, once a certain level of transformation is reached, the seeds of the following stage.
We should also note that in the present phase of the life of humanity, and for a given socio-economic whole, the time sequence of the three characteristic stages is not indispensable. Whatever its level of productive forces and present social structure, a society can pass rapidly through the defined stages appropriate to the concrete local realities (both historical and human) and reach a higher stage of existence. This progress depends on the concrete possibilities of development of the society’s productive forces and is governed mainly by the nature of the political power ruling the society, that is to say, by the type of state or, if one likes, by the character of the dominant class or classes within the society.
A more detailed analysis would show that the possibility of such a jump in the historical process arises mainly, in the economic field, from the power of the means available to man at the time for dominating nature, and, in the political field, from the new event which has radically clanged the face of the world and the development of history, the creation of socialist states.
Thus we see that our peoples have their own history regardless of the stage of their economic development. When they were subjected to imperialist domination, the historical process of each of our peoples (or of the human groups of which they are composed) was subjected to the violent action of an exterior factor. This action — the impact of imperialism on our societies — could not fail to influence the process of development of the productive forces in our countries and the social structures of our countries, as well as the content and form of our national liberation struggles.
But we also see that in the historical context of the development of these struggles, our peoples have the concrete possibility of going from their present situation of exploitation and underdevelopment to a new stage of their historical process which can lead them to a higher form of economic, social and cultural existence.
-Amilcar Cabral, the Weapon of Theory, Havana, 1966
Taking our cue from Cabral we thus pose the question while taking account of the concrete material conditions prevailing in Nyanza and other parts of Kenya.
The way I see it, the existence of the neocolonial state as the concrete manifestation of imperialist rule in Kenya today is the biggest stumbling block to economic development in Kenya today.Which is another way of saying that if we want to create well paying jobs, have affordable housing, guarantee food security, implement a comprehensive healthcare policy, promote thriving business, ensure security and what not, then there is no option but to overthrow the Kibaki-NARC regime- but that is the EASY PART.
One of the reasons for the inevitability of the mapinduzi option is because even we suggested an economic program for full recovery, the mandarins strolling up and down the corridors of power would still be unable and/or unwilling to implement it.
For instance yesterday(August 25,2004) Kenyan envoys, including my fellow alumnus Oginga Ogego came out in full force to endorse the controversial Tiomin project in Kwale that NARC is embracing with even more gusto than the Moi regime:
In the meantime, the global operations of Tiomin continue
Almost FOUR YEARS AGO IWARNED my fellow activists not to be complacent because of the temporary victories we had secured against Tiomin then:
For those who were knocked out by a powerful drug and somehow missed the human rights concerns around the Tiomin operation I say welcome back to civilization:
And if you want TECHNICAL,FACTUAL information about the other side of mining- the part where you get to find out about the impact to communities, then look no further
And yet,here are our ambassadors lining up to congratulate this NOTORIOUS CORPORATE CRIMINAL for being so kind as to come to Kenya to exploit us efficiently for 14 years and then leave!
How could a government whose representatives welcome the corporate robber -barons to UNDER DEVELOP our natural, human and national resources be entrusted with delivering a credible development agenda.
I admire Prof. Peter Anyang' Nyongo very much. But I keep asking myself, what happened to his previous trenchant critique of NEPAD?
He is now one of its most ardent propagandists!
Four months ago I gave the following critical assessment aboutforeign direct investment in Kenya
Which I had followed up a few days later with a scathing rejoinder to a neo-conservative stealthy implant in one of Kenya's papers by one of Kenya's most prominent right wing economists:visit mambogani.com for the essay
And therefore my stand against the neo-liberal agenda is quite well known.
Which is why some of my readers should reach out for a pillow, a glass of water, a mug of beer, a leg of goat, a lollipop, a jug of warm milk or a handful of njugu karanga or even a roll of weed- whatever it takes to STABILIZE and CALM THEM DOWN when I say the following:
There is NO CONTRADICTION for a Marxist-Leninist like Onyango Oloo to ADVOCATE for CAPITALIST FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN THE KENYAN ECONOMY. There is NOTHING with giving KENYAN entrepreneurs enough INCENTIVES that will allow them to maximize their profits.
Still on your feet or are you running to the bathroom again to stem the flow of shock induced diarrhea?
Here is whatmy Havana friends have in place
And the Vietnamese are working with the World Bank of all institutions on a poverty reduction strategies
Are Marxist-Leninist hypocrites when they denounce foreign investment in Africa and support it in Cuba?
Why should it be OK for Vietnam to do a joint project with the World Bank when it is not OK for Kenya to do so?
I have a two part answer.
The first one is to explain the difference say between Cuba and Jamaica and Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Cuba and Jamaica are both large islands with lots of African descendants who play great music. Vietnam and Bangladesh are both countries in the southern tip of the Asian continent.
But the comparisons end THERE.
The biggest difference between Cuba and Jamaica is not between Spanish and Patois or Ibrahim Ferer and Bounty Killer, nor is it between Sotamayor and Ottey.
No the biggest difference between those two big islands has to do with the historical fact that in the land of Fidel the government of the day came to power through a popular revolution while in Jamaica the Queen IS STILL THE HEAD OF STATE; likewise Vietnam defeated MILITARILY 3 imperialist powers- Japan, France and the United States to reunite the two halves of Vietnam by May Day 1975 after fighting the Americans for THIRTY YEARS almost.
In Havana and Hanoi socialists had a lot of success in implementing a national democratic revolution which showed remarkable changes in education, health, employment,security etc.
And then the international context changed dramatically for worse with the implosion and collapse of the bureaucratic “socialist” caricatures of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union that had been undergoing steady atrophy for decades- today is not the day to rip into them…
Cuba and Vietnam found out that if they did not want join Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia into a capitalist inspired meltdown, they would have to make a lot of tactical and even strategic compromises with imperialism; neither country could wish away the dominance of world capitalist market- especially Cuba which is only 90 miles away from Uncle Sam.
Vietnam, having endured the horrendous American imperialist invasion for decades was a country whose environment and industrial capacity had been devastated- it lost at least 5 million of its citizens in that war.
Some people associate revolution with the capturing of state power- that is when people see the insurrections or the fleeing fugitives of the ancien regime; rejoicing in the streets; the militant pronunciamentos.
No doubt that tumultuous moment is part of it.
But that is just the TRAILER which announces the COMING ATTRACTION.
The MAIN FEATURE begins with the DONKEY WORK of BUILDING A NEW SOCIETY often from scratch: ask FRELIMO what they had to deal with in Maputo when the Portuguese colonial settlers fled sabotaging factories in their wake; ask Salvador Allende and the serried of provocations; ask Fidel Castro who survived over 20 assassination attempts; ask Thomas Sankara who died trying to implement a new vision for the country he had renamed Burkina Faso; ask Amilcar Cabral who was surprised and killed by the Portuguese secret police on the eve of his country’s revolutionary victory; as Maurice Bishop who watched the nightmare of an ultraleftist opposition from his childhood buddy lead to an American imperialist invasion and the restoration of the thugs they had turfed out… and of course, ask the followers of Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap and Le Duan what they had to contend with AFTER 1975 in terms of America’s vindictive vendetta against this small South Asian country that had the temerity to defeat the mightiest power on earth.
So if today the Cubans have a new foreign investment law, it is because they do know that they have a stable, firm revolutionary government in place that puts Cuban independence and Cuban interests first.
If today the Vietnamese compromise with the World Bank, they can do so with a historical perspective of having won and defended a revolutionary formation from as far back as 1945.
When Kenyans are TOLD by Western ENVOYS and World Bank/IMF BUREAUCRATS to liberalize the economy it is a very different ball of wax- MASSA is barking and the loyal dog wags its tail as it rushes to comply with its master’s instructions.
9.0. A MULTI-SECTORAL APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE, INTEGRATED REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NYANZA
So has Onyango Oloo abandoned Marx for Adam Smith?
Dream on SUCKERS.
Not VERY LIKELY.
If one takes an objective look at the myriad problems facing Nyanza at the moment from poverty to AIDS indicates very clearly that A ONE TRACK MINDED APPROACH will NOT and cannot do anything to advance the progressive agenda in this part of town.
We need to develop a multi-pronged team approach that carves out role for both the national and regional government; will have place for the private sector, the civil sector and even the so called informal economy; it is an approach which will be cognizant of Nyanza’s box in a box interconnectedness as planners look at the region, the country as a whole the sub- continental region, the whole Africa the South and finally the global economy.
I have sections 10.0 and 11.0. detailing examples of these strategies- but I am just going to piss off my readers now by abruptly ending this one right here.
TO BE CONTINUED……
7:40 PM EST
Thursday, August 27, 2004
Friday, August 27, 2004
Poverty in Nyanza: A Symptom of Uneven Development in Neo-Colonial Kenya
Posted by Kenya Democracy Project at 2:44 AM
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That was an amazing article. Wish i could use it for my dissertation
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