A Digital Essay from Onyango Oloo in Nairobi
At the very outset, my heart felt mkono wa tanzia (condolences) to the families, friends, lovers, neighbours, associates and work-mates of all those innocent people whose lives were brutally cut short by callous, spineless and politically well connected assassins over the weekend at the tragic Uhuru Park NO rally.
The planners and perpetrators of this demonic outrage should be scientifically, methodically and ruthlessly hunted down, swiftly arrested and arraigned in court to be held accountable for these latest crimes against Kenyan humanity.
There is simply no justification that can ameliorate the needless tears, pain and suffering that we as Kenyans are going through right now.
No doubt one of the biggest questions going through our collective minds is:
Who could have done this?
I will make an attempt to answer this question without succumbing to sub judice.
From the time I was able to string words along to make sense on a printed page- and that goes back to when I was six or seven, I have always been fascinated by detective stories.
As a Kenyan child growing up at the Mariakani Estate in Nairobi’s South B neighbourhood-and I am talking way back 1965, 66,67, 68- I remember how avid a fan I was for comic books like Beano and Dandy imported from the UK and available all over Nairobi. There was always an adventure, a mystery or something to be unraveled in those illustrated comic pages.
What I craved for even more were the more local stories of crime and punishment.
I do not know how many of the Kenyans reading this recall the exploits of Lance Spearman and Fearless Fang.
These were two intrepid crime busters who were portrayed by real flesh and blood Africans.
Both were to be found in slim magazines which I believe came out every week or so it seemed to me. At that time I was staying with my auntie Alice who had been my nursery school teacher at the Railway Training School and her son, my first cousin Evans Otieno Owiti who was two years older than I made sure we got the latest issues of Lance Spearman and Fearless Fang the moment they came out. We had quite a stack of those magazines.
These were comic books with an African difference.
The stories were told within the same comic book picture panel format, complete with dialogue balloons (yes, including the inevitable Aargh! Pow! !!!*!? that you could see in the Marvel Comic offerings featuring Captain America, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and other mythical astounding North American men and women wearing their underwear in public).
The unique thing about Spearman and Fearless Fang is that they were not drawn, painted or computer generated, but featured real African actors photographed in black and white.
Lance Spearman was modeled on the Western gum shoe detective (think TV’s Colombo or paper back’s Marlowe). He always wore this fedora hat slanted at the side and had a somewhat ill fitting black suit on-whether he was flying through the air delivering karate kicks and judo moves.
Did he have the inevitable cigarette dangling from his pouting lips? I can’t remember that detail from publications that were all the rage forty five to fifty years ago.
But like all good detectives he always got the bad guys and had them delivered to justice.
Was he a Kenyan?
Somehow I don’t think so.
Given that Lance Spearman and Fearless Fang came out of the Drum magazine stable with its base in South Africa and branches in Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere I have a hunch that the actor who was my Lance Spearman boyhood hero was probably a South African- that is if he wasn’t Nigerian.
The fact remains that, unlike my African-American and African-Canadian relatives across the Atlantic I and other African boys growing in Sixties, Post-Colonial Africa had a real flesh and blood African super hero to relate to, did wonders for my self esteem.
So to the 21st century delirious fans of the Seventies Makmende Super Hero (recently revived on Facebook by the Kenyan musical group Just A Band) I say:
Genuflect before Lance Spearman and Fearless Fang.
Speaking of the Fearless One, he was a burly African body builder guy who in hind sight, dressed in Zulu traditional warrior garb.
He was the inversion of the white Tarzan. Like the colonial fantasy that sustained Jane’s bare chested blond boyfriend, Fearless Fang lived in the “jungle” and used an elephant as his personal matatu or taxi.
He obviously knew Chimpanese, Leopardese, Ostrichese, Elephantese, Zebraese and many other Animal languages because he had no difficulties at all communicating fluently to these beasts of the African wild.
But he was a tough guy who always came to the rescue.
As I grew older I came to make the acquaintance of Monsieur Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Mr. Sherlock Holmes and assortment of Belgian detectives, English clergymen and derelict American private eyes all intent on solving mysteries and crimes committed on rivers, trains, gothic cathedrals and of course, bed rooms and office buildings.
We all know that this mythical criminal demi-monde is worlds apart from the hum drum day to day existence of real police women and men who have the thankless task of finding out who exactly poisoned someone’s Tusker when the owner of the drink dashed off to the choo for a quick leak before coming back to finish their nyamachoma using their unwashed hands.
Whatever the case, reading detective novels, following crime investigation series (Law and Order, CSI, Barnaby Jones, The Magician, Perry Mason, Kojak and even the Pink Panther movies featuring Peter Sellers) has made every human being above the age of seven an EXPERT on solving serious crimes.
And that is how I want to introduce myself, Onyango Oloo, as an expert with a valid opinion on who was behind the bombing at Uhuru Park. Everyone knows that you do not have to go to Kiganjo Police College, Scotland Yard or wherever those FBI guys earn their right to flash their IDs to know who dunnit, ama?
On a more serious, sober and political note, if one wants to find out who is behind the criminal outrage, one needs to apply one of the lessons from all the great detectives I have come across.
The best ones always asked themselves a very simple question:
Who stands to gain from this murder, this robbery, this forgery, this arson? (fill in the blankety blanks)
The flip side of the same question is this:
Who stands to lose?
Since these grenade attacks and the subsequent deaths and injuries took place at a packed NO rally, one must immediately answer these questions within the context of the increasingly fractious campaign for and against the proposed new constitution.
It immediately becomes a POLITICAL question swirling around STATE POWER, ECONOMIC and CLASS DYNAMICS and the OUTCOME OF THE REFERENDUM CAMPAIGN.
So let us, like all good private detectives, start by asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS in order to get the RIGHT ANSWERS.
Here we go:
1. POLITICALLY, which social forces in Kenya stand to gain from this latest terrorist attack? 2. POLITICALLY and ECONOMICALLY, who stands to lose if the proposed Kenyan constitution is ratified at the August 4th Referendum?
I say that politically, the YES side has NOTHING to gain from hurling three hand grenades to kill some innocent civilians attending a peaceful rally, exercise their constitutional rights to assemble, associate and express themselves. After all, proponents of the YES side are particularly enthusiastic about the expanded Bill of Rights in the proposed draft constitution.
So let us RULE OUT the Yes side from the list of suspects.
Let us also immediately rule out the Church and its leaders from this atrocity. Much as I detest the hypocrisy and the fake prosperity gospel bling bling of the Bishop Wanjirus and Pastor Lais, I seriously do NOT THINK that they could have organized to kill of those thousands of Kenyan worshippers who gather every Sunday to make sure that these men and women of the cloth continue living large and lavishly while their flock toil to raise those tithes and sadaka. That would be like using a sharp panga to scoop out their own intestines.
Since Phillip Onyancha is already in custody, he could not have done it- besides he likes drinking the blood of his helpless victims after strangling them. He does not do grenades at crowded public events. So it was not a ruthless serial killer acting on their own who bombed those innocent Kenyans.
And since they will already be on top of the suspects list, let me quickly take off ANY MUSLIM, Arab or someone looking remotely like them-even if they happen to be a or Sikh, Mungiki, AkorinoBobo Shanti Rastafarians.
Who are we left with?
THE POWERFUL KENYAN POLITICIANS FRONTING THE NO CAMPAIGN. THEY DID IT. THEY SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY ARRESTED.
These individuals have enjoyed the trappings of state power for almost half a century.
They are from all over the country and belong to a range of tribes.
They are not Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Animists.
Rather these big politician chief suspects of mine all worship abjectly at the gold plated temple of their deity, AVARICE.
Since they are land grabbers, they are naturally opposed to land and agrarian reforms anticipated after the passage of the new constitutions.
Since their fingers are still soaked with the blood of Pio Pinto, JM Kariuki, Dr. Ouko and all those victims of state terror and politically engineered ethnic clashes over the last forty seven years, they are urinating in their pin stripe suits at the prospect that they can one day be hauled to a Kenyan court or shipped to the Hague to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.
Since they have profited from dictatorship, they detest the democratic gains encapsulated in the proposed constitution.
And they do have SOME EXPERIENCE, and to paraphrase Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden, LESSONS TO GIVE, on how to organize terrorist attacks against innocent Kenyan civilians.
And they will always unleash their carnage and terror at decisive, historic turning points in our country’s history-1965, 1969, 1975, 1992, 2008.
Remember the February 28, 1975 bombing of innocent passengers at the OTC bus stage in Nairobi, days before the mutilated body of JM Kariuki was picked up in Ngong?
I was only fifteen years old at the time but I still vividly recall those events which rocked Kenya.
We now know that powerful people in government organized that atrocity to divert attention of the Kenyan public when they were busy torturing the popular Nyandarua North MP to death.
How many of those high ranking government officials implicated in the assassination of JM are still alive and barking invectives at the proposed constitution?
That was a rhetorical question that you do not have to answer.
Remember the so called ethnic clashes of 1992 and 1997 that ostensibly pitted Kenyan tribes against each other but in reality were methodically planned from within the government itself?
How many of the architects of those acts of state terror are at the frontlines of the NO campaign?
I am giving out NO prizes for those who can guess the right answer.
NO trips to the Jabulani World Cup for you folks.
Who organized the killings of Ouko and Father John Kaiser to look like suicides? Are any of them taking part in the NO Campaign?
My Dear Sherlock, this one is too elementary.
Is there anyone among the leading politicians in the NO Campaign who is capable of bankrolling trained former police, paramilitary and military personnel to throw hand grenades into a crowd of innocent civilians?
Your guess is actually better than mine on this one.
Does any one of these leading politicians in the NO Campaign have anything in their political resumes pointing to a time when they were in charge of security operations at any level?
Have any of these No Politicians been known to shed copious CROCODILE tears hours after killing their political opponents in COLD BLOOD?
You have got it
I rest my case, folks.
But a small footnote:
These heartless guys are cynically planning even more serious crimes, so the sooner they are thrown into the slammer, the better.
Onyango Oloo Nairobi, Kenya