Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dr. Kituyi Echoes His Master's Voice in Mombasa

Tribute to JM Kariuki; Showcasing the great African Super Group Osibisa; Idi Amin Dada's macabre colonial apprenticeship in pre-independence Kenya; Canada's Role in the shady Orange Revolution in the Ukraine; a review of Beyond Ramps a book on the politics of disability by Marta Russell; music by Adam Solomon,Mbaraka Mwinshehe, Bjork, Savina Yannatou, Iki Levy and Freshley Mwamburi....

Onyango Oloo Anticipates Some Possible Excitement During the WTO Mini-Ministerial in Mombasa

1.0. 30 Years The Blood of JM Cries out for Justice!

It is March 2, 2005- at least by the time most of you get to see this for the first time. A generation ago the Kenyatta despotic kleptocracy was rocked with its worst political crisis since the 1969 banning of the KPU. Goons connected to Mzee, had on his express orders, tortured and slaughtered the charismatic populist parliamentarian and former political prisoner JM Kariuki. Even though I was not only fourteen and a half years old at the time, I clearly remember the sense of foreboding, the palpable tension, the ripple of fear and cloud of terror that hung all over the Republic.

The assassination of JM Kariuki marked a turning point in the Kenyan political scene. In the same way the brutal slaying of Robert Ouko galvanized even members of the Kenyan middle-class(read Rubia and Matiba) to oppose a government that they had been a part of, so did the killing of the popular Nyandarua North MP propel Kenyans from all over the country- but especially from among the Agikuyu to start questioning and opposing the Kenyatta dictatorship more openly. What was then known as the March 2nd Movement was a loose grouping of anti-imperialist Kenyans who rallied around the death of JM Kariuki to remind Kenyans that Kenyatta represented a regime of neocolonial sellouts, corrupt political criminals and shameless killers who would stop at nothing to silence threats to the status quo. It is significant that one of Ngugi wa Thiongo's most important novels,
Petals of Blood came out in the same year that JM was killed. Two years later Micere Mugo and the same Ngugi unleashed the patriotic play that we know in Kiswahili translation as
Mzalendo Kimathi that was Kenya's official entry at FESPAC II in Nigeria. I can peg my own first stirrings of political militancy to this period- this was the time when Hilary Ngweno was still an honest, courageous journalist who used the
Weekly Review to skewer the status quo and boldly speak truth to power. Remember that this was also the year that Martin Shikuku announced the "death" of KANU and Jean-Marie Seroney (then Deputy Speaker) sardonically defended the outspoken Butere MP saying that Shikuku did" not have to substantiate the obvious". Both parliamentarians found out to their cost that the nationalist outfit called KANU may have died many years previously, but the killer machine called KANU, the ruthless outfit that could crush politicians forever, was still very much alive. Not too many people are aware that Koigi wa Wamwere's first stint in detention dates back to 1975 when he was among a bunch of Nakuru based Kenyans who attempted to set up an oppositional grouping to combat the blood soaked, Kenyatta led KANU.

Years later, at Kamiti, outside prison in Nairobi, across the border in Dar es Salaam and over here in Canada and America I met or heard from veteran activists from that period like Micere Mugo, Maina wa Kinyatti, Willy Mutunga, the late Kaara wa Macharia, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Wanjiru Kihoro Kamoji Wachiira, Edward Oyugi, Alamin Mazrui, Zarina Patel, Adhu Awiti and many other patriotic and anti-imperialist Kenyans who spoke of the ferment, the anger, the fire in the belly, the militancy and the ferocious hope that JM's killing engendered in all of them, propelling them to organize themselves underground and even openly, transforming university lecture theatres into arenas of anti-fascist struggle and making every appearance on radio and television an opportunity to hit back at Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and his menacing dictatorship. Do not forget that Daniel arap Moi was busy understudying the dark secrets of the decaying killer from Gatundu and that Mwai Kibaki was busy fence sitting as a loyal minister for finance in that dictatorship.

The history of this important part of contemporary Kenya still awaits its own book-length treatment- and many of the comrades cited above have spoken for YEARS about the need for just such a project. I keep reminding them as the years creep up on them and teenagers of the seventies like myself slide into middle age ourselves that ngoja ngoja huumiza matumbo. Last year, when George Anyona took his own life rather endure the pain of the debilitating illness that had reduced him to a shadow of his vibrant seventies and early eighties self, one of the comrades I have mentioned wept bitter tears because he had hoped that he would link me up with the late Kitutu East MP for an extended audio interview. Alas Ndugu Moseti took a whole chunk of Kenyan history to his grave when he purposely drove his car right onto that other vehicle in Nairobi South B.

Two people who may appear to be unlikely heroes of the period must also be recalled from convenient obscurity. The first is Salim Lone, the Kenyan editor and publisher who was later to be stripped of his citizenship and forced to travel around the world on a UN passport as a stateless person for almost a decade. The second is Philip Ochieng, once a militant Marxist from his days as a journalist with the Dar es Salaam based
Daily News before descending to the embarassing pig sty of being an oinking warthog singing paens to the Nyayo dictatorship after penning the Njonjo propaganda vehicle The Kenyatta Succession with the Jayson Blair of Nairobi, Joseph Karimi- a book that helped to ideologically vanquish the so called Kiambu Mafia and pave the way for the rise of the Moi-Njonjo-Kibaki triumvirate of the early 1980s. Back then, Ochieng-at least according to my older Marxist sources from the Kenyan underground movement of that time- was the one journalist writing in the mainstream Kenyan media that socialists and leftists could rely on to write a powerful column indicting corrupt and repressive policies.

Salim Lone used the innocuous looking pages of the fashion magazine
Viva to showcase the progressive and patriotic writings of people like the late Wangondu Kariuki and Miriam Kahiga (who is now the coordinator of the Kenyan chapter of Amnesty International).

Two years ago Kamoji Wachiira remembered the death of JM Kariuki and the emergence of the March 2 Movement. in this joint piece penned with the writer of these lines. For more insights from Kamoji Wachiira about this seminal period of Kenyan anti-imperialist organizing of the late sixties and early 1970s including first hand recollections of JM (in fact he goes back to the Emergency period) click here for this audio interview with the Ottawa based Kenyan patriot who happened to have been the next door neighbour of JM Kariuki.

Today in 2005, here is what I can add in poetic tribute.

Yesterday we say JM's family
demand the long promised Truth and Justice Commission be set up in a story
echoed in the other Kenyan daily as well. The same paper has started
serializing the inside story of the long suppressed JM murder saga.

2.0. Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi Barks to His Master's Voice

Kenya's boisterous Minister for Industry has issued a dire warning to any Kenyans planning to disrupt the WTO meetings beginning today(Wednesday, March 2, 2005) that they are very likely to be arrested. And this is before even Kenyans decided to actually launch a protest. Dr. Kituyi,loyal imperialist lap dog that he is, is going out of his way to convince his Western masters that the mix up at Cancun, when the international media mistakenly confused Oduor Ongwen for Mukhisa Kituyi will not happen again. When Kenyans decide to lick monopoly capitalist ass, they do it so effectively, don't they. This is so SICKENING!

To go back to Cancun for a second. For those with temporary amnesia, let us refresh those memories with this link and this one as well. But it is these series of articles in the SEATINI bulletin beginning with this editorial by Yash Tandon, this opinion piece by Percy Makombe and this observation by the Geneva based Ugandan national Chandrakant Patel that really puts everything in a nutshell.

Here is a hilarious sidebar to the collapse at Cancun. At the time, the Nation, among other media sources credited Mukhisa KItuyi with "walking out" of the talk, causing their collapse. As a matter of fact, according to two close comrades , Prof. Edward Oyugi and Oduor Ongwen what happened was more pedantic. Mukhisa Kituyi wanted to urinate, so he excused himself from the Green Room where he and others had been held virtually held prisoner to go to the washroom to relieve himself. At that point, Ongwen was somewhere in the corridor with the rest of the African NGO delegation monitoring events from the outside. When he left the room a rumour flashed across the conference centre that Kenya had led a walk out. Ongwen was elated and started jumping up and down. Within minutes, the BBC and other media outlets were IDing Ongwen as the KENYAN TRADE INDUSTRY MINISTER and obviously the triumphant squeals coming from him seemed to give credence of the rumoured Kenyan walk out. By the time Dr. Kituyi had finished kojoaring and come back to the Green Room it was all over! So that is exactly how Dr Kituyi caused the collapse at Cancun- by impulsively emptying his bladder.

I think this is the reason he wants to make sure that this time around there is NO KENYAN ACTIVIST who can be REMOTELY be mistaken for an official of the Kenyan government. I am pretty sure that Dr. Kituyi will also stay away from any liquids that may fill up his bladder.

In the meantime, according to the venerable London broadsheet the Financial TImes,we hear that the top WTO official handling the negotiations has bluntly told the ministers attending the Mombasa mini-ministerial meeting commencing today that they must make sure that they SAVE the talks from "crisis".

Richard Waddington in his Reuters dispatch adds that indeed it is "crunch time" in Mombasa.

At the same time thousands of anti-WTO activists are already planning ahead to the big Hong Kong anti-WTO bash- so Kituyi's jittery nerves are perfectly understandable.

Tom Maliti, a Nairobi based Kenyan correpondent for Associated Press is quoting the Rwandan minister as saying that poor nations intend to pin down earlier commitments by rich countries to allow better access to their markets. What makes all this "tough and terse" talk ridiculous is that while Kituyi and other African leaders will be arguing that they are being short-changed by the Rich countries, their riot cops will be doing their best to shut out the civil society ALLIES who would could apply ADDITIONAL pressure to these very demands of these demented elitist ministers!

I remember getting an email from the same Dr. Kituyi in 1995. But that was during a different era and a different time. This was during the World Social Summit held in Denmark and Kituyi was attending this gathering with the same Oyugi and Ongwen, only back, Dr. Kituyi was an opposition MP with FORD-Kenya and therefore posing as a social democrat with progressive credentials. Those were back in the days when Dr Kituyi used to pen papers with titles like "Becoming Kenyans: Social Transformation of the Pastoral Maasai(1990) for the Africa Centre for Technology Studies. These days yeye ni waziri na ana tamba sio!

Apart from a pathetic desire to please their masters, I see in Kituyi's strictures, a local Kenyan angle and agenda.

Perhaps this is the time the NAK regime rehabilitated itself in the eyes of their estranged Western overseers. Would cracking a few Kenyan activist skulls lead to rapprochement between the besieged neo-liberal Talibans of Nairobi and the leading world capitalist gurus, svengalis and puppet masters from Washington and other Western capitals.

Let us wait and see whether this icky stratagem fuas any dafu...

3.0. Kenyan Activists Must Seize Initiative to Push Anti-Globalization Agenda

The Kenyan democratic movement has local and international tasks. Today those international tasks fall to local activists who can put Kenya on the world map as far as anti-WTO struggles are concerned by exposing the neo-liberal agendas of the main players.

This can get rather dicey because many of these activists depend on the same imperialists for rent money, salaries, per diems and so on.

It will be quite an eye-opener to see how many Kenyan NGOs can actually bite the very capitalist hands that feed them by standing up for Southern interests and pushing the interests of workers, peasants and other marginalized social groups at Mombasa. Will they stage a parallel event or will they disrupt the main mini-ministerial that is causing Dr Kituyi so many Maalox moments? Well, it is only a matter of hours before we find out ama namna gani?

Check out this
article by Oduor Ongwen.

In the meantime, I will take a break and prepare for my radio show which is coming up in exactly one hour from now....

Onyango Oloo

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