Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mwananchi to Poll Violence Planners: To The Hague! No Mercy!

From Bunge La Mwananchi

The special tribunal as recommended by Waki commission was to serve the crucial function of being a land mark on the journey to ending Kenya’s cycle of impunity, addressing the cycles of human rights violation and purging the abuse of power and misuse of public office in Kenya.

The Thursday, 29th January 2009, failure by parliament to pass the necessary law to set up the Justify Fullspecial tribunal within the Waki prescribed timeline is for Kenyans a blessing in disguise. By that act, we are now enroute to The Hague, which is a welcome relief for millions of ordinary Kenyans who have suffered impunity in all its forms in this country.

A country where:

-the Electoral Commission of Kenya officials instead of being tried for mismanaging the general election are fleecing public coffers for over Ksh. 500 million in severance pay.

-where political leaders engage in imperious activities such as corruption and continue to enjoy public office privilege.

-a legislator censored by the Parliament and heavily implicated for public office impropriety by a Commission of Inquiry set up by the Government, can be reinstated by the top Executive to enjoy Cabinet privileges.

All these happenings confirm that our top leadership is either clueless, not alive to what is happening or they are apologists for the impunities. For the many Kenyans who have suffered evils at the torture chambers, police brutality, extra judicial killings, human rights abuse and other grand corruption related pains in the form of misdirected public funds and resources, the Special Tribunal is a reassuring step towards breaking from such a bleak past.

Ordinary Kenyans do not have confidence in the local judicial system where justice is sold to the highest bidder and even one of our top leaders is on record proclaiming lack of confidence in the judicial system and its courts.

In a country with a history of horse trading for political expediency, majority of Kenyans are cautious to avoid letting off post election violence criminals through political-horse-trading. Therefore, with the Waki Commission report deadline having been exceeded, any further time granted to set up the tribunal would be at the mercy of the Panel of Eminent Persons. Kenyans exhort the Panel of Eminent Persons chaired by Dr. Koffi Annan not to extend such mercy or fear to punish this Government since they had plenty of time and could even afford to break early for Christmas.

We, Kenyans, support The Hague option because having an independent unbiased third party such as the ICC in charge will ensure that the process for justice is free from political interference. Further, this will save the nation from soap-opera-like intrigues and the twists and turns that is customary with Kenyan public business as political elite battle to stay in power. Even as the parliament rushed in an attempt to pass the law to set up the Special Tribunal, there are crucial questions that either alarmed or concerned Kenyans:

Considering everything in perspective, who is genuinely interested in the Special Tribunal? The answer is the ordinary Kenyans - the ones who have suffered too long from impunity, abuse of power, misuse of office and aborted justice or the slow motion of the wheels of justice.
Second, if the latest political events are anything to go by, where the two principals have become staunch advocates of and for each other and characters held in public contempt are elevated in public to senior cabinet positions, do you think the two former protagonists and their allies are interested in the tribunal?
How do we deal with already noticeable gaping loopholes that threaten the independence and effectiveness of the proposed Special Tribunal? For example, who will fund the tribunal? Is it the Government or the Consolidate Fund? How do we expect any implicated parliamentarian to sign the pay package for his executioners? Who will the Special Tribunal Chairman and the committee report to? If the previous escapades of commissions of inquiry are an example, Kenyans are likely to see the findings of this special tribunal in 2030 or so.
The other questions that we must ask ourselves, is who is the complainant? Ordinary Kenyans, without a doubt. Who is the defendant? Again, unquestionably, our political leaders. Considering that our lawmakers are themselves often eating the crumbs that fall off the Masters╩╝ table, are the politicians likely to pass stringent laws to punish themselves or their benefactors? Shouldn’t we expect that our legislators are going pass laws even at night in order to free their partners in crime?

Further, the elephant question is will President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga face the Special Tribunal? Suppose they do and they are implicated such that they cannot exonerate themselves, what will happen? Will they still hold their public office? In proper hindsight, there is an undeniable role that the now President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga played in the post election violence, at least by their differences being the trigger that sparked it all off. For justice to be done and be seen to have been done it is important that the two principals must also face the Special Tribunal. In the event that they are implicated beyond reasonable doubt, can the President and Prime Minister be suspended? Further still, since the Cabinet is filled up with characters whose hands have been in the cookie jar, who will step in?
What are the possibilities that the two principals and their cohorts will use the national security intelligence to help water down evidence adduced against them?

We, Kenyans, are cognizant that the Waki commission has reinvigorated an apathetic citizenry by availing them the tangible opportunity to deal with the powerful persons behind the high loss of lives and widespread destruction of millions worth of property and sources of livelihood that devastated our lives in early 2008. We desire to start new chapter of Kenyan stability, a chapter to begin believing again in the vision and ideals of our nation and for this justice is crucial. It is only at The Hague where we will believe that justice shall be done and be seen to be done.
Further, we Kenyans, are alive to the truth that the coalition between the former protagonists can only be the product of their having hatched up some form of settlement over their differences, thereby forging a very strong, self-preserving and protective bond, and are concerned that the mad dash to adopt the law in parliament to set up the Special Tribunal is nothing more than a public relation exercise to sanitize post election violence planners before the public eye.

Lastly, in these difficult times, we the grass root leaders, call upon our Brothers and Sisters-Kenyans in the diaspora to join us in vigilance and militancy in demanding justice, as we do not expect any benevolence from our political class. The Special Tribunal is about ending impunity in all its forms and we must therefore drown out the assertion of sovereignty conveniently adopted by the cornered political class and invite the international community especially the AU and the UN to help us get justice. Yes, we Kenyans - we who truly want justice for those who burnt in the Eldoret Church and those were killed in Naivasha - we plead with the international community to help us in our vigilance to ensure justice.

Friday, January 30, 2009

So will you Kick The Habit UNEP?

Not so long ago a few people in cyberspace began to scratch their heads confused about why it was ok to drive big gas guzzling SUVs but not ok to use an electric alarm clock according to UNEP.

For a while the blogosphere was abuzz with queries and investigations into this oxymoron with the likes of Rob Crilly sharing UN branded donkeys (much more fuel efficient than the grounded SUVs!) and Nick Wadhams providing regular Humvee Alerts and of course our dear Kenyan Pundit providing a space for others to wonder and comment. (apologies for all the hyperlinks but the lord knows we scream and shout!). Do you think it is possible we are making a mountain out of a molehill? Hmmmm....:

Actually it turns out that for some this has been a subject dear to their heart with Rob writing in the Times Online as far back as 2007. Alas, the Nairobi Star were considerate enough to save our hopeless queries to today in hope that perhaps all the great custodians of our Environment currently meeting at UNEP headquarters might pick up the paper as they sit in their aircon SUVs caught in Nairobi's traffic. And just in case they miss it or want to share the story with their kids when they get back home (can someone at UNEP advise me what their carbon footprint is from flying across to Kenya to save the planet?)

But does anyone out there really care? To rephrase: does anyone who get's paid a salary to save the planet actually really really care??

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This is how we treat our mothers in Kenya

Crime: Guilty of demanding what they were promised by the government
Punishment: Tear gas, beaten, humiliation


Crime: Being a Turkana
Punishment: Starve to Death


YES TO WAKI!!

They will do what it takes to stop justice and we must do what it takes to bring justice. If all we can do is show that Kenyans want justice by signing a petition, then let's start somewhere.


CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION FOR FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WAKI REPORT. EVERY SIGNATURE COUNTS.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear Mr. President...TAKE ME TO THE HAGUE!

Dear Mr. Kibaki,

I am beginning to think that your advisors may not be as competent as they make themselves out to be and perhaps all this democracy stuff is not as effective as you may have thought nor is sitting in parliament, passing bills and having to put up with all those silly squabbles. Mr. Kibaki, I think we have been duped by our friends in the west and all that freedom of speech maneno. No, I don't think it is for Africa.

I mean look at the mess it has got us into: people on the streets protesting because of Palestinians dying (I mean what has that got to do with us??); teachers striking; people complaining that some of your advisors have stolen their maize; you having to go and beg from your buddies in the west; you having to keep bringing your friends into Cabinet and then throwing them out...it's all too complicated. I think we need to learn from our neighbours how to rule a country, not from those silly people in the west who are all crying because they lost their jobs? Pathetic!

And let's get down to the real business. Your advisors were not even able to arrange a proper tribal war and genocide. Shame on them! Everything was perfect. Elections rigged, people hungry, weapons available a stone throw away in Somalia and all they could manage was a couple of thousand people hacked to bits and then they left you to have to sort out all the IDP issues! Hundreds of thousands of people displaced and all those Human Rights activists screaming at you! What a mess.

Mr. Kibaki, I would like to volunteer at my own expense to go to the Hague as soon as possible. I have a great plan. There is this chap currently booked into one of the Hague's finest hotels and he is getting first class treatment because he really knows how to sort things out. This guy really knows how to operate. Check this out:




















Now if you look carefully, the chap holding the automatic weapon could not be more than thirteen or fourteen. So smartly dressed too! I am told young boys are so much easier to deal with. They are trigger happy, have no idea what democracy is all about and all it takes is a little bit of this and that. And our country is full of those useless street urchins! We can put them to good use and I bet you anything it will cost you half the price of what you have to pay your advisors to sit around all day in parliament to play with their new mobile phones!

After careful research, I am convinced that this is definitly the way to go. So much easier than starving people to death as well. And a lot cleaner. Compare this:


















And this:















I am sure you would agree with me that the latter strategy is much more effective, much less noisy and so much easier to implement. Look around you: Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea. If they can do it properly why can't we??

So, Mr Kibaki, please help me arrange a visa to the Hague and I promise you that all your questions will be answered! I am happy to pay for myself as a gesture of patriotism to Kenya (and I even promise to bring some of that fine chocolate back too!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Tactics in Human Rights

Click on image to visit site

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dying of thirst? Drink tusker!!


And the winner of this year's Tusker Project Fame is...














Mama Maskini!!!

For singing the song of starvation throughout your entire life!!

(Post Mortem: Tusker's Regional Manager announced yesterday that they are going to spend Ksh 300, 000,000/= on Project Fame. In the same 9pm news on Citizen TV, we were told that 3 children had died of starvation, 500,000 more facing immediate starvation and Red Cross says it's just the beginning...)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TO AN ABSENT FATHER AND MOTHER

(Yet another for Barack Obama upon his inauguration as president)
By John Sibi-Okumu

So Daddy O
Why don’t you throw a little party in heaven
If you’ve been forgiven
Or burn less harshly in hell
Now is that being a little bit too unsentimental
Or get out sooner from purgatory
You see
That’s the other option

It doesn’t quite matter if in God we trust
This is for all who sometimes wonder
Whether they were conceived in love or lust
Your son has proved with this elevation
That such is possible within creation
There’s no need to dwell on roads taken or not taken.

So junior go ahead and lead away
You must know what you can do for your country
And never forget in the coming years
The many many hopes and fears
Met in you on this day

So Mommy O
Why don’t you throw a little party in heaven
If you’ve been forgiven
Or burn less harshly in hell
Now is that being a little too unsentimental
Or get out sooner from purgatory
You see
That’s the other option

It doesn’t quite matter if someone yells out bastard
While he’s standing sipping a drink at a bar
I mean who cares when that word was first uttered
Your son has proved with this elevation
A mother’s love is a great benediction
Sustaining in ways that defy description.

So junior go ahead and lead away
You must know what you can do for your country
And never forget in the coming years
The many many hopes and fears
Met in you on this day

Teachers: I salute you

Click on image to read the Nation story

Monday, January 19, 2009

In response to, "If I was Obama..."

JKS Makokha responds to Sukuma Kenya's post:

"I know how you are feeling because millions of Kenyans including myself are feeling the same way too. When the lowest ebb hits, always remember the school in Kisumu and how many Kenyans are benefitting from it and feel revitalised.

This crop, this class of politicians and present generations of followers will take Kenya nowhere in the direction of greatness. Our greatest weakness is that we never had a military coup, a political revolution or any significant national scale initiation rite since Independence. Most African countries that experienced these events violently or softly as in Tanzania are in a second phase of their lives.

Kenya is still stuck in in its infantile mindset. Unless such initiation happens, we won't break loose and embark on the road to greatness like Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, etc are doing. We came to such a moment in December and in the pre-election violence but the forces of the infantile stage blocked the transition. We went back to that initial and basic state of national mind that characterises the first decades of any new multiethnic nation across history like ours and most developing countries.

What we need is a military coup and a season of horror. Blood and all. The chaos, and destruction, the trauma and its memory afterwards will sober the generation that will arise from this chaos and create a new Kenyan order.

But an alternative to this exists.

What we need is a civilian political revolution like the Arusha Declaration of 67. It will bring a new political ethics, land codes, social temperament and national(istic) values that break the infantile Kenya from its present stage and usher it to the next stage which will be the age leading to greatness.

Whatever the option we will surely one day take, it will not be from the current leaders and the led. But the cumulative actions (and lack of actions) by both the leaders and the led in Kenya will prepare the path that will lead to the option lying ahead on the road to a great republic of Kenya.

In the democratic US, the breakfrom the national foetal moment happened with the Civil War. In communist Cuba, it happened with the rise of Castro. In Ghana it happened after the last Rawling coup and same is true in Libya. In Tanzania it happened with the Arusha declaration. In Rwanda with the Genocide. In Mozambique, it happened after the civil war and same is the case in Angola. All these countries/nations mentioned are now in the post-infantile stage and three generations from now they will overtake Kenya in most of the key aspects we boast off as better than them.

Other nations undergo the initiation and heal rapidly such as those named above. Others bleed longer and enter into long convalescence such as Somalia, Uganda and South Africa. But after the convalescence awaits the post-infantile road to greatness. Yet, others undergo several initiation moments in order to fully break with their chains of infantility. Most African and developing countries still in various states of chaos fall under this category esp Nigeria.

Kenya is yet to undergo its own initiation.

Enchanted by the basic security and other aspects of infantility, it is a nation in which a huge population of the led and the leaders fear the radical different world of maturity, responsibility and reason lying beyond the initiation moment. And their fear is doubled when they contemplate the price nations have to pay to enter the post-infantile era...the price is the nation has to let go its comfortable infantile stage....violently.

All great leaders of whatever age, nation, and political creed understand this basic tenet of nation-building. Simply put, a nation must break from the foetal impulses and instincts of its afterbirth moment and grow up. Such a "break" like the verb break itself denotes MUST be violent to destroy the strong foetal forces that dont want to let go for they will have to die in the process of a new nation coming into being.

It is in recognition of this significant need to break painfully from the child in us and our nations, that across the world our primitive ancestors simulated the same through the various forms of initiation of the youths, and to underscore the sacred nature of the events, the ancients shrouded them in ritual and reverence.

When one understands this nature of nations and life, you find a new peace. You know that Kenya will not change in our life but the elusive defining moment where Kenya will finally break from its infantile mind and soar into greatness is inevitable. It will happen. When? Not in our lifetime but it will for such is the nature of life.

PS: The only advice I can offer to fellow Kenyans with love for Kenya is twofold: Kenya will not change. Change will come to Kenya at the right time and under the right leader, military or civilian who will be a product of the sum-total of the actions/misactions of the leaders and led since 1895 when Kenya came into being."

JKS Makokha

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If I was Obama, I would disown Kenya...

Why? Hmmm....let's see...

What values do we have as a Nation?

  • Stealing is ok (especially from the poor to feed the rich):

  • Begging is fine too:

  • Avarice is commended:

  • And of course we take in pride in murder...

Good thing there will always be poor ignorant starving people to take advantage of otherwise what would happen to my values?



Saturday, January 17, 2009

Towards an iRevolution

Click on image to visit blog

On the iRevolution (Patrick Philippe Meier):
The normative motivation behind this blog is based on the recognition by “many scholars and practitioners that the techniques associated with strategic nonviolent social movements are greatly enhanced by access to modern information communication technologies, such as mobile telephony, short message service (SMS), email and the World Wide Web, among others” (Walker 2007).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why we want the Parliamentary Service Commission scrapped

By Okiya Omtatah Okoiti
Public Interest Litigation Group

Like the ears of a submerged hippopotamus sticking above the water, the MPs’ disgusting refusal to be taxed is a tiny pointer to a hidden but much bigger scandal playing out in Parliament. We are not going to waste our precious time clipping those insignificant ears; we are going after the submerged animal in its entirety. To save our beloved country we must kill the hippopotamus causing the existential threat. That’s why we have aimed our hunting spears at the monsters’ heart.

The rot in Parliament is buried away under layers and layers of self-serving, illegal and toxic legislation concealing a staggering breadth of corruption. Having abandoned their noble role of being our representatives, our MPs morphed into an extremely exploitative cartel that abused and continues to abuse its legislative powers to short-change us like we have never been by any institution or group of individuals in the history of independent Kenya.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) is not a commission. It is a toxic corporation that was illegally created by evil geniuses as their conduit for looting public coffers. Though they located it in Parliament they deviously legislated to place its nefarious functions outside the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya. That way, it could cater to their greed unchallenged by any institutional accountability instruments enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya.

The fraudulent instrument of grand theft by public servant is accountable to nobody. Not to the Executive, not to the Judiciary, and not even to Parliament. Not the entire Government or any of its three arms can exercise any institutional check over the vampire entity that is sucking the Republic of Kenya dry of its precious blood.

In fact, the vampire PSC operates unconstitutionally as the undemocratic Fourth Arm of Government to whom all the other three are subservient.

Left unchallenged, this atrocity, this ogre, which has already hurt this country in more ways than both the Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing scams combined, and whose annual budget today is close to 8 billion Kenya shillings, will destroy our country faster than any law-abiding citizen can say, “na uta do?”.

Already, it denies ordinary Kenyans quality representation by reducing Parliamentary service to a rat race for illicit money. This attracted all manner of shadowy characters from the underworld who, caring nothing about why Parliament exists, fought viciously at the last elections to become MPs. Their only concern being to partake of the juicy scam.

But the real rot extends beyond the obese perks the PSC illegally gives the MPs. There is also the serious endemic employment fraud where MPs’ relatives and hangers-on of dubious qualification and ability are absorbed into public service with neither the knowledge nor the approval of the Public Service Commission.

Fortunately for us, the majority of Kenyans are determined to see Kenya become the Republic it was intended to be. A republic is governed by law not by men. Hence, our humble prayers to the High Court to stop this fraudulent use of donated legislative power for criminal personal gain at the expense of the common good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New government strategy: Mass Murder?

What else do you call it when you declare an emergency food crises and then get caught with not enough reserves because you sold it on? According to the Nation:

* "Some of the maize which was meant to cushion Kenyans against rising maize flour prices and a looming famine, may be on its way to Southern Sudan.
* KACC's investigation of an earlier maize-related scandal at NCPB in which crooked businessmen posing as millers were allocated hundreds of thousands of bags of maize to be concluded on Wednesday.
* NCPB Managing Director is reported to have distanced himself from the 80,000-bag allocation list even as some of his managers blamed a group of people at the Board for the situation"

And for a change, its not just us useless civil activists screaming from behind our computer screens or from the comfort of some hotel lobby press conference. Perhaps this time they've gone too far and even the conscience of Martha Karua can no longer bear the nightmare. Reuters reports, Mama Martha accusing officials in the Agriculture Ministry of profiting from a current shortage of Kenya's staple food and the today's Nation quotes her saying, “When it came to the formation of the coalition Government we never considered the laws that we had made. We all joined the Government — whether you had a pending case or not, whether you were publicly known to be tainted with corruption, we are all there.”

So let us put this as simple as possible: The whole world is screaming about Israel killing lots of innocent people. Even us lethargic Kenyans took to the streets to show our solidarity with the Palestinians (and of course got teargassed for it). In the last three weeks, close to 1000 people have died and the world is screaming, "murder"

Now, all the big agencies the world over are saying that 10 million Kenyans are facing starvation. Forgive me, I need to say that again to myself: 10 million people. So in good political tradition, the government declares, "a state of emergency" and then open investigations into themselves about maize that was allocated to starving Kenyans being sold off to Sudan?

Let's be not be emotional about this for one minute and assume that a couple of hundred people out of those 10 million will drop dead due to starvation. Does that account to mass murder? Let's also remember that MP's are refusing to pay taxes that could provide millions of shillings to support starving Kenyans. Constitutionally, they are obliged to pay tax, right? So does that account to mass murder? After all are they all not equally guilty of withholding critical cash that can be used to provide basic human rights to Kenyans?

And of course there are several people sitting in parliament with their bloody hands under their thighs hoping that we will all forget their role in the post-election violence...what was it? 1000 people, 2000? murdered, raped, burnt alive in churches? Under the instructions of higher authorities?

Dear Mr/s. Member of Parliament...

Are you guilty of mass murder?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Tool in Your Hand...



More on the Mobile Revolution at MobileActive.org

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who is more foolis than who?

Dear Mr/s Member of Parliament,

I must say, initially I thought you were the fool with all that hulabaloo about wanting to legally bring in the Artur brothers (any idea where those dudes are by the way?) and ransack media houses and give the policeman another opportunity to extort money from me because my phone ring is set to "Kenya inchi yetu, iko matata" and not the originial Nokia phonetune. Alas, how foolis of me to think that you are more foolis than me and my fellow Kenyans!

Clearly you have studied your enemy very well. Clearly you have understood that us constituents are just like warthogs: very forgetful.

Just recently we all got upset because you don't want to pay taxes and spent lots of money printing tshirts and all we got was a cannister of teargas in our faces for those lousy tshirts.


Then of course we got all excited that you were going to book yourselves into Kamiti because you did not want to spend good hard earned cash flying first class to the Hague. But as true patriots, you have chosen to spend all our money on the local economy at our local courts.

And there are those other things I can vaguely remember like Anglofleecing, Goldenwhachamacallit, Grand Regency. In fact you even gave us the opportunity to remember all these wonderful stories by inviting some of your friends to Jamhuri park but we were all too distracted by that chap who wanted to give you a letter that we did not rise to your hint and look behind your back at who is sitting there.

But when you craftily cooked up that media choma thing and then we all forgot how much money you owe us and started screaming about the right to have our own phone tunes and not to get thumped by strange looking men from Eastern Europe. And now we are thanking you for reconsidering and everyone gets to go back to Parliament and spend more of our money talking about things they have not even read.

You are right: we are more foolis than you...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If they don't have unga, let them eat..

Dear Mr/s. Member of Parliament,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I know it might be still too soon since you came back from your much deserved break but a couple of million constituents (you know those silly people who voted for you) are mumbling and grumbling again about how hungry they are.

And of course the media has to make a fuss about it. I think since you managed to put a sock in the media's mouth, they must have really little to talk about so they are filling in the pages with stories about those starving watu of yours.


So now that you have spent the festive season filling your bellies with booze and meat, perhaps you really need to put one of your dirty sock's in the media's mouth once and for all. I mean, such stories are a disgrace. What will all those tourists think when they are laying by the poolside drinking pina coladas and they see such garbage on our papers. And what of all the donors attending workshops at the Grand Regency? How do you think people are going to be able to focus on all those important meetings about...um...you know about like saving Africa and stuff?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Media: Blackout MPs

By Betty Caplan

Parliament plans to black out the media: the media's response must be to black out members of parliament. Tit for tat. Consider this: a week without Raila in sweeping white garb, Kibaki smiling at a crowd being promised something they know they won't get; a week without Martha Karua's carefully brushed coiffure and perfectly enunciated KiSwahili. Remember no-one loves to be in the limelight more than politicians. We may actually have space to discuss what is to be done in the current mess.

Do you realize that a mere 35 MPs voted for the Media (amendment) Bill - 35 out of 222! What were the others doing, when something apparently of such overweening importance was being aired. One member of the House (I refuse to call it august) has a regular column in another national paper. This week he complained "There's nothing to envy about an MP's life and the job is thankless." Was the Assistant Minister for Higher Education Science and Technology spending time with his constituents who were visiting his home which they feel free to do day or night or was he seeking refuge in his rural abode to get away from them with his family whom he has too little time for? Was he being a professional beggar, shamelessly soliciting government ministers and bureaucrats or NGOs or being ridiculed, insulted and openly shunned as a potential (rather than an actual) thief?

The Hon. Mwiria cannot attend the House because mundane tasks distract him: he must be a marriage counselor, education advisor and an intermediary in location and family conflicts - tasks no doubt his training has equipped him to do. He must be an ATM machine coughing out money for school fees, hospital bills, funeral expenses and land issues. "Some MPs carry no less than Ksh 200,000 to use with the public any weekend they head home in addition to what they use in Nairobi." Well, if you've got it, why not flaunt it? He even has to, horror of horrors, pay rounds of drinks for those who can afford it. It strikes me that such ministers are poorly prepared House work.

There is a little word in English that has the power to move mountains, It is "No." No, I won't pay because you drink too much anyway and you'll get in your cars and knock someone over. No, I won't have a meal in a public place when my constituents don't even have the money to buy unga to eat in private. No I will not continue this ugly system of patronage that makes me a one-man charity and turns my constituents into perpetual beggars. Yes, I will pay tax on my allowances and even vote for a decrease in salary so that the obscene gap between us can at last narrow if not disappear altogether. No, I will put off my phone when in a meeting, in Parliament or taking a rest and if I am classified as "proud and inaccessible", then so be it. Shauri yako. I am not God; I cannot be all things to all men and women. I am human, or supposed to be.

As for the "frustration in not being able to accomplish even a tenth of what is expected of him and then however good your performance you are blamed as a failure," the revered minister must be aware that is exactly what the humble schoolteacher suffers year after year. In fact it occurred to me they had much in common. Schoolteachers too are meant to be pillars of the community, ATM cards, marriage counselors and of course educators who produce brilliant results no matter what quality of student material they are working with or how inadequate the school's facilities are - no textbooks, desks, clean toilets, libraries. The Minister complains that "you have to toe the line of the party chief or you are gone", but the schoolteacher has to put up with incompetent, inefficient, corrupt and greedy Headmasters and keep mum or else she risks being transferred to the bush. As for going through abusive campaigns to be an MP, the Minister might try just for a little work experience slogging away day after day with students who don't want to learn, who can't see the point of education because these days Ph.ds drive taxis if they're lucky and who think that if you can't get them through any exam without their doing a stroke of work you a nobody. The more I think of it the job is the same. Except for the salary, tax- free allowances and perks of course.

(Betty Caplan is a freelance journalist and writer living in Kenya. Click HERE to read more of her work.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

If you can read this, then you can help

The bottomline is that all this blogging and all this screaming and shouting within our own incestuous little upper-class circles does nothing for anyone. We need to take this one step further.

Most Kenyans have no idea what the government is really up to, where money goes to, why they are so poor. So let's do our little bit to take this one step further. The Partnership for Change is distributing thousands of informative and factual newspapers for free across the country. All I ask is you download a copy of this, print it out and give it to one person who does not have the same luxury of reading online as we do. It can be your househelp, the nightguard, the manamba or driver on your regular matatu, anyone!

Click on the image below to download a copy of the newspaper.

And PLEASE NOTE: I don't work for the Partnership for Change; I don't work for MARS Group, I don't work for any institutional civil society movement before anyone thinks I am downloading my Terms of Reference on to you. I am doing this because I am a Kenyan who does not share the same values that our politicians do. And I know there are many out there. So let's just do what we can...

Kibaki - You are right!!

Ahh Mr. President and the Members of Parliament that WE Kenyans have employed, you are indeed right to state that assenting to Section 88 of the Kenyan Communications Act..."would promote and safegaurd our culture, moral values and nationhood."

As custodians of Kenya you have indeed done everything you possibly can to turn our culture, moral values and sense of nationhood into one of theft, corruption, decadence, lack of respect, nationwide poverty, donor dependance, begging, gluttony,murder, nepotism, impunity...


And yes you are right Mr. President: assenting to taking our freedom of expression away will definitly ensure that all the values you and the criminals WE employ to sleep in parliament tax free will be safeguarded.

WELL DONE!!!

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