Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Click on the image below to read the Open Letter from the Partnership for Change to the International Monetary Fund on the Loan Request by our government for One Hundred Million Dollars...
You can download a pdf copy of this HERE. Please try and circulate this far and wide to the international community through your own networks. We must not allow them to fill the coffers with borrowed money when we all know why the coffers are empty...
Monday, March 30, 2009
There will be a public forum to demand slashing & taxing MPs' pay, at the Panafric Hotel on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, from 2.00 pm - 5.30pm. We have booked a spacious hall. Entry is free. Ask as many people as possible to attend and contribute to the debate. Resolutions from the forum will be compiled into a dossier that will be presented to the Akiwumi Tribunal stating our position.
Those who can't attend but have a contribution to make should email their views to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please invite others to the meeting to demonstrate our disgust at the insatiable greed of our MPs.
Friday, March 27, 2009
The Wajibu team is opening up the calling for submissions again for the second issue this year on all aspects of how digital technology is shaping public discourse, culture, politics and economy in Kenya. Topics of particular (but not exclusive) interest are:
· The internet and social justice
· How development operates within the new face of communications
· Integrating digital technologies into mainstream media
· Trade and economy
· Civil society interactions
· ‘Good governance’ and human rights discourses
· Cultural interactions
· The evolution of content
Words: 1200 – 2000
Publication Date: Early June
WAJIBU: a journal of social and ethical concern, is a Kenyan journal that has been published in Kenya for the past 22 years and has subscribers not only in Kenya but in various other countries in Africa and abroad. Every three months readers are treated to an array of in-depth analytical coverage of issues such as “Peacebuilding: gaining or losing?” “The Millennium development goals,” “Education: a constant challenge,” “Roadmap to a just society,” “Culture and values,” “Traditional African wisdom and modern life,” “Human dignity and the value of one life,” and other issues of major concern to Africans and those who love Africa .
For further information or to submit: dpinkenya (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk
Thursday, March 26, 2009
By George Nyongesa
The most potent question in public debate right now is whether or not to send “moribund President and ineffective Prime Minister” et al packing through fresh elections. The coalition government stands accused of failed leadership - their accuser, the discontented 70% of Kenyans per recent opinion polls and now the clerics. The prayers before the public court are that an urgent decision be reached on whether or not fresh elections should be held right away.
However, this may not be your classic open and shut case since it is clear that the fears put forward in argument are passionately considered legitimate by each side. While this is normal in any trial, each side is dangerously subjective and there is not likely to be a compromise found soon without the introduction of an objectivity criterion.
Indeed, whether we should go to elections now or not, is not a decision that can be arrived at based on subjective passions and neither can it be discussed in a vacuum. It must be considered and understood in the context of the prevailing socio-political environment of our country, because in essence this is the common ground and arena that the two sides operate within and in which they will continue to once a decision is adopted. While each side is rearing and quick to disprove the other’s argument, or will at least try to, the reality of Kenya’s socio-political context is open for all to see it is therefore only this context that can objectively temper our considerations of the merits and demerits of the necessity and timing of the elections. If we find that the returns on the merits of the aye-sayers far outweigh the demerits of the nay-sayers, then it should help even those sitting on the fence to make an informed decision in joining the crusade.
The facts - Kenya’s socio-political context
Kenya is a country that professes to be a democratic state. In this regard, Kenya has historically held general elections every 5 years, according its citizens an avenue through which to participate in the matter of their own governance. The most recent general election was held in 2007 where a record number of Kenyans showed up to entrust their rights to people whom they thought would represent their best interests. However, from the contested presidential results to the prevailing selfish enrichment frenzy exhibited by those occupying office in the August House, Treasury building and State House, it is obvious that Kenyans were grossly fooled in campaign promises and pledges.
Let us train our focus on the coalition government. When contested presidential election results triggered post election violence, deeper underlying issues were exposed and it was clear that if we were to make any progress towards righting the wrongs, we had to take a number of extraordinary decisions. One of such decisions was, in contradiction of our democratic ideals, to accept the formation of a coalition government. The truce government was formed as a result of a failed democratic process and for those that supported its formation the hope was that it was a necessary evil to get us into the work of reforming the State. This hope was reinforced by the subsequent Kriegler and Waki reports and their recommendations. However, 365 days plus later, what has become clear is that the coalition government is not excited at the idea of reforming the state. The coalition partners are just happy to occupy the power seats in contempt of where the seats draw their legitimacy – the Kenyan people.
Unlike other or previous governments in the history of Kenya, over and above the manifestos, campaign promises and pledges of the competing leaders who came together in the coalition, there was an extraordinary mandate of the government. That special mandate was aptly spelt out in the National Accord document that gave birth to the coalition government. The job description of the top leadership of that government was laid out in agenda items 1 – 4. The agendas were: cessation of hostility and restoration of rights and freedoms; solving the humanitarian issues and compensation and resettlement of IDPs; political leadership (euphemistically referred to as power sharing) and the citizenry pertinent issues (the land question, high unemployment among young people, historical injustices, and inequitable distribution of resources - which was erroneously referred to as long term issues).
In all these agenda items, the one that the coalition leaders could claim to have given dedicated attention (only because it serves their interests) is the power sharing agenda. But the agenda items that involve the larger public good such as resettlement of IDPs, looking into citizenry pertinent issues such as historical injustices, land problems, a new constitution amongst others, their dedication has paled in comparison to their enthusiasm in power sharing matters. When the government was formed, people had high hopes that after all it was bringing together a combination of three topmost presidential contenders’ campaign pledges, promises and manifestos. We had hoped that we would have benefited from the tension over what policy should be implemented from amongst these options. However, the tension is only who’s eating what, where and when amongst coalition government leaders. The casualty? The common citizen – the voter.
The priority role of any democratic government is the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and assurance of security for its citizens both internally and externally. If we consider Kenya in the last one year, can we strictly say that the coalition government has performed well in this mandate? Our President is on record saying that 10 million Kenyans will die from starvation in the next one year. While he acknowledged the risks faced by Kenyans and put out a begging bowl to foreign nations to help feed Kenyans at a cost of approximately KSh 37billion, in the very same financial year the coalition leadership had presided over the loss of KSh 200billion through corruption and mismanagement of national resources.
Who needs government if it cannot at a minimum assure us the right to life in our pursuit of happiness? What the coalition government has excelled in is sharing in the plundering of our public coffers, sharing of our cereal reserves, fuel and other treasures that we are yet to discover, while the threat of starvation has cornered the citizens into eating wild berries, rats and other unmentionables that past freedom fighters would be shocked to know we partake instead of the fruits of the independence they fought for.
The hunger crisis has been blamed on post election violence – but then, who caused post election violence? It has been blamed on drought – but in a modern world where economic scientists have proved that drought has a limited connection with starvation isn’t this an issue of poor government planning? They also blamed it on global financial crisis – but while that problem is global, isn’t it the responsibility of individual governments to craft safety-net mechanisms to protect citizenry from the harsh elements of the crisis? If one looks around the world, leaders are working around the clock designing policies, whether independently or in concert with other nations, to ensure their citizens are cushioned. They are even going further to reassure citizenry so that they keep their trust in the government’s capability to protect them. How much can we say any of this is happening in Kenya? Have you heard coalition partners engage in fiery debate on how to protect Kenyans from the effects of the global economic meltdown? Honestly, in your estimation do you think the current leadership can match the herculean problems Kenya faces with the magnitude of creativity, innovativeness and entrepreneurship that it demands? Or do we have a leadership that hopes against hope that one day they will wake up and the problem will go away?
Economic crisis and social unrest are twins!
The section of the citizenry that is hard hit by the consequences of failed leadership and economic crisis are those lower on the socio-economic chain – those in the villages and in the slums, the plantation and industrial workers – and its foolhardy for the political class to imagine that this lot will suffer peacefully and not pay a not-so-courtesy call to our capital city in this regard. It is inevitable that they will crawl out of the hovels they have long been relegated to and pour into the city streets where they will vent and dramatize their frustration and anger. I doubt that they will suffer in peace in their rat holes while the dogs and cats in leafy surbubs are pampered with meat, milk and biscuits; a meal more expensive than a packet 2kg maize flour that local people can no longer afford.
Arguments for and against elections now
The post election violence seems to have been the first sign to the political class, the rich and middle class that something was terribly wrong. It shook them because they too were affected as the depth of their fellow countrymen’s sufferings were brought right to their doorsteps either live or through news-outlets and they caught a glimpse of what it means for people to be dissatisfied, frustrated and therefore ungovernable. It is no wonder that our legislators’ argument put forward against holding elections now is that they are not ready for a post election violence re-enactment. However, considering the current state of the nation post the National Accord the reality is that whether we like it or not, the re-enactment will occur and it is just a matter of when. And this time round it will not be about tribes but about class struggle. It shall be neighbourhood wars of the “havenots” against the “haves”, the poor verses the rich and the governors and governed. This war is so imminent that if nothing is urgently done to postpone, address or avert it soonest, it could erupt before we finish the argument over whether to have elections now or in 2012.
There are those who argue that we do not have the institutions and reforms that will ensure “free and fair elections” whose process and results are acceptable to both the winner and the loser. I pose the following questions to them: who is supposed to create those institutions? Surely, it is not Mwananchi who is suffering from the consequences of the poor leadership. When the parliament dissolved the electoral body, left a vacuum and went on recess without a back-up plan – what were they thinking? Whose responsibility is it to reform the police force? Believe me if the President and the Prime Minister wanted to reform the Kenya police they would do it overnight. But they won’t because the current police force serves well their interest of detaining us every passing day longer in a colonial state. Whose responsibility is it to reform the judiciary? Certainly not the poor Kenyans who are victims of the abortion of justice.
I posit here that historically no State ever willingly reformed itself. It is the citizenry yearning for better social organization that must force the state to reform. World over, the state’s core always dedicate themselves to maintaining the status quo. They do it lawfully or unlawfully. My misgivings about President Mwai Kibaki or Prime Minister Raila Odinga et al’s ability to lead is born of the reality that it is the coalition partners who benefit from the lack of reforms. Further still, for Kenyans to require them to carry out reform such as to replace the current constitution is to ask them to go against their oath of office. Do we expect them to jeopardise their hefty perks, disrupt mortgage repayment plans and compromise the booty from their looting spree? Shall we peacefully become captive to their con-politics and remain paralysed in failed leadership? Why should the governors use abdication of their responsibilities to argue against the governed demand for fresh elections? No, we must find some nerve to stand up and threaten that it is not going to be business as usual. An election is the language that parliamentarians listen to and therefore we must use that to extricate ourselves from the present captivity. We should not allow the political class, especially our legislators, to use the consequence of their abdication of responsibility to dissuade us from seeking fresh leadership.
There is no doubt that hostility towards the coalition government is not confined to church leadership, but they echo a majority of Kenyans who are alarmed at the paralysis and inertia of the two principals as their troops engage in a scavenger spree looting public resources as the coalition partners walk on egg shells between themselves in self-protectionism. Formation of a coalition government orphaned and left Kenyans without a watchdog to guard their interests and so coalition partners have imperiously agreed to eat in turns. It is obvious that the current leadership is not commensurate to the gigantic task at hand and therefore it is time to get one that is fit for this job. Why should we allow an illegitimate government continue to preside over serious socio-economic and political ills with impunity? The state of our nation has all the ingredients for civil strife and something must give in order to avert the impending calamitous situation.
There is every argument in favour of the case that our country needs a fresh leadership that is clean, lean, accountable and responsive. There is no doubt that is what will move us from the current state of the nation where 10 million are hungry, insecure and victims of human rights violation. That is what shall redeem us from the jungle of scandals of grand corruption, maize and fuel cartels, and political uncertainty. The choice that we have is enduring the prevailing conditions or seeking their alternatives – reforms or no reforms; staying as we are or progressing. Like other human beings, we too would like to see a better life. We would like to see another Kenya born in our lifetime.
Therefore, if the call for fresh elections is what ensures or reassures our belief that another Kenya is possible, why should we stay a day longer on death row? Our responsibility as the governed is to collectively describe our desire, ambitions or the ultimate goal of what we want and for the governors to worry about how to deliver it to us. In the present case, based on the outlined serious shortcomings of the coalition leadership and our desire for alternative leadership, we the people of Kenya, must demand for fresh elections and let our society coordinators put in place the right infrastructure for us to have free and fair elections. Our governors draw hefty perks to ensure that the process and outcomes of our social organization is not disrupted even from post-election violence, so let them worry about that and not make it our problem.
Dear Kenyan, the verdict lies squarely with you. Make an informed decision but make it soon – for justice delayed is justice denied. Your choice for elections now or 2012 is a choice on how long you shall stay in the politics of empty rhetoric. It is the choice on whether to remain a victim of sickening buck passing between the principals or have a responsible leadership. It is the choice of whether to tolerate unexplained assassin bullets and continued lives of fear to deter any talk against impunity. It is a choice over whether we want to be in a free state or police state. It is a choice over whether we want to stay in con-politics. It is a choice to move from the guesswork leadership of the current leadership. It is your answer to the cries of IDPs, the poor, the hungry and the silenced voices of the struggle for your emancipation.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Besides our politicians, I don't think there is any Kenyan who would disagree that we have failed as a nation to provide equal opportunities for all; that we have failed to be honest people; that we have failed to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. We have failed.
Whilst, we desperately need an overhaul, the big question is will we be able to do it without hacking each other to pieces? Was the blood we spilled after the December 2007 elections enough to prove to ourselves that no violence can possibly be justified?
And do we actually have anybody capable of leading this country out of the current state of decay? Who will lead us safely into positive change? Does anyone have any ideas who is actually suitable for the job? Can we trust anyone?
I am curious to know what others in the blogosphere think...
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Bunge la Mwananchi is a people’s movement organizing Kenyans to resist oppression; to fight social injustices; and to demand accountable leadership at all levels. We believe that another Kenya is possible - a Kenya where justice and development for all is a reality!
We organize platforms where Kenyans can freely dialogue each other on pertinent issues affecting them. Countrywide platforms are created around targeted community issues. This way of community organizing is the fastest growing movement in Kenya as traditional meeting places: at the market, street talks, under a tree, on the roadside or even neighbourhood chatspace are rebranding into Bunge la Mwananchi.
Any Kenyan who dreams of "another Kenya"; who subscribes to the struggle against issues of oppression, social injustice and imperious leadership; who is dissatisfied with the status quo; who believes in the power of organized citizens and who is interested in an alternative and easily accessible platform through which to engage the public, is an eligible and automatic member.
Kenya needs transformation! That transformation will not come from State House or from Parliament but from the villages, from the slums, from factories, from plantations, from markets, from households, from within you - places where Kenyans who are tired of bad leadership hide.
We have across the country, platforms organised by Bunge la Mwananchi: Mombasa, Voi, Machakos, Makueni, Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and coming soon to a place near you as we are also networking online Kenyans at home and abroad to join in the movement.
We aspire to mobilize millions of Kenyans to transform Kenya through issue-based politics. We are building a strong movement that will transform Kenya’s politics one Kenyan at a time.
Here’s how to start and build a Bunge la Mwananchi platform in your community or area:
a) Believe and become the CHANGE you want to see.
b) Talk about the CHANGE you believe in to your relatives, friends, neighbours, workmates, acquaintances etc
c) Invite your contacts to an informal discussion, dialogue or debate about local and national issues at your home or neutral place in your community or area.
d) Try and make sure from the dialogue and debates that there is adopted some form of action plan on local or national issues discussed e.g. visiting the nearest Police station to discuss with OCS about insecurity in your area, petitioning your landlord about water scarcity or estate hygiene standards, petitioning the city council to attend to estate roads that fall in their jurisdiction etc.
e) Continue the informal forums in your area: daily, weekly or bi-weekly and also actively engage members of your platform in activities that advance the agenda of social change, link the local struggle to national and international level.
f) Invite resource people, or encourage people you know with particular expertise to attend and address community forums on issues that fall within their field of expertise.
g) Seek to network with other Bunge la Mwananchi platforms.
h) You can start your own neighbourhood platform around your local issues simply by rallying your neighbours on common issues and interests.
Become a Bunge la Mwananchi member today!
For and on behalf of Bunge la Mwananchi
Monday, March 23, 2009
- Editorial: Shailja Patel
- Ethnicity abounds: Kenya's Identity Crisis by Mugambi Kiai
- UNFINISHED BUSINESS FROM KRIEGLER'S IREC by Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
- BATTERED, BRUISED AND BROKEN by Ann Njogu
- ENDING IMPUNITY: The WAKI report by Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
- On the frontlines of the struggle: Diary of an imprisoned activist by Patrick Kamotho Githinji
- The Truth, Justice And Reconciliation Commission: A flawed law by Ndung'u Wainaina
- Grassroots activists take on the coalition government: Out of touch with reality by George Nyongesa
- A strategy for change: Maina Kiai speaks to Kwamchetsi Makokha
- TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE AND THE RULE OF LAW: Lessons from the Truth Commissions in Africa by George Wachira
- Kenya in Darkness: Excerpts from the diary of an activist by Philo Ikonya
WAJIBU can be obtained for Ksh. 200/= at the following outlets: Stanley Kiosk, Simply Books, University of Nairobi Bookshop, Catholic Bookshop, LISS library at the Rahimtulla Trust Building on Mfangano Street, Books First (Yaya Centre) and Monty's (Sarit Centre). Or email dpinkenya (@) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk
Special thanks to Kenyans for Peace Truth and Justice and Media Focus on Africa for supporting this print run.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.
VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.
Click HERE to find out more or just remember to switch your lights off for one hour on Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Underground: A Film by Emir Kusturica
And while you are here, I recommend you listen to this splendid all time Serbian classic that was just Made For Africa: click HERE to listen to Bregovic's song entitled, "Kalashnikov" (also from the film)
Click on image below for the erudite facts and
WAKE UP KENYA before its too late...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Buy a copy of Gathara's new cartoon book (part of the proceeds go to starving people):
Hire the strange man below to run our country:
Or sell our souls for a job at the United Nations:
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
|On behalf of petitioners and for the cause, |
Bunge la Mwananchi
Dear Kenyans and friends of Kenya,
Yesterday (Thursday, 12th March, 2009) the landmark case instituted by 17 concerned Kenyans against the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) once again came up for hearing before Justice Nyamu. In this case, Kenyans are in court seeking orders that the PSC be declared unconstitutional along with the law that created it and further that the High Court order the recovery of all the money and other resources the PSC has squandered on Parliamentarians since 2003.
As a brief background:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - 17 Kenyans filed High Court Petition No. 769 of 2008, at the Nairobi Law Courts, requesting that the PSC be scrapped for violating the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, and for flouting the republican ethics that prohibit public officials from using their offices for unjust enrichment and other forms of personal gain.
Wednesday, 21st January, 2009 - when the case came before Justice Nyamu, it could not proceed because the PSC alleged they had not been properly served, since the court papers were delivered to their legal office instead of their clerk.
Friday, 30th January, 2009 - although the Attorney General (through whose office all bills are transformed into law and therefore had much to do with the passing of the contentious law) was ready to proceed, the PSC requested for leave of the court to instruct lawyers to appear in court on their behalf.
Thursday 12th February, 2009 - the PSC was represented by lawyers Mr. Pheroze Nowrojee and Hon. Paul Muite, the Attorney General represented by Advocate Mr. Omondi and Kenyans by lawyer Mr. Kibe Mungai. At the PSC’s advocates’ request, Justice Nyamu granted orders allowing the PSC 21 days within which to respond to the chamber summons in this matter filed by Kenyans at the High Court. Lawyer Kibe further requested and was granted 7 days leave after receipt of the PSC’s response to the chamber summons, within which to reply.
Consequently, the next mention of the case was scheduled for Thursday, 12th March, 2009.
When Justice Nyamu sat to listen to submissions on the chamber summons yesterday, PSC’s advocates told the court that they had underestimated the time required to prepare, file and serve their preliminary objection. They informed the judge that the petition filed by Kenyans against the PSC raises grand fundamental constitutional issues that they must respond to with utmost care. They also indicated that as part of their defence they plan to question the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear the petition.
Justice Nyamu gave his ruling as follows:
1. The PSC, through its advocates ( Hon Muite and Mr. Pheroze Nowrojee), should file and serve both their preliminary objections and replying affidavit on Kenyans’ lawyer within 21 days.
2. Kenyans, through their lawyer Mr. Kibe Mungai, would then have 7 days within which to respond.
3. PSC’s advocates would thereafter have 7 days within which to respond to issues raised in Kenyans’ response.
4. At the end of the 35 days so allocated, Justice Nyamu will transmit the file to Chief Justice Evans Gicheru to appoint a 3 judge bench to hear both the chamber summons and the main petition.
Way forward and support required:
1. Since, we- Kenyans, disagree with the move to have Parliamentarians review their own remuneration through the Parliamentary Tribunal that was set up for that purpose, we shall be amending the court documents to seek court orders that in public interest, that review tribunal be disbanded.
2. Fellow Kenyans can support us by adding your signatures to the growing list in which we aim to collect 5 million signatures to bolster our petition. Your signature counts since it will help us build a strong and stable case for Kenyans’ public interest as we make our voices heard and resist political impunity. The petition is available at www.kejude.org
3. You can also support us by building up and adding to public debate over the case and what it aims to achieve. Talk about it everywhere and anywhere that you can. Why cant we just write so many letters to the editor about this matter? Email, SMS, call, write in the newspaper, stand at the street corner and discuss this, engage your workmates, chat about it, post it on your friends’ walls in facebook... be part of the grapevine and own this initiative – it’s yours.
4. We are working on a Solidarity Fund in order to raise the resources we require in sustaining this petition. Feel free to contact us (c/o secretariat at Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION), Tel: 3871614, Telefax: 3871857, Mobile tel: 0733-542335, 0722-610567 Email: info (at) clarionkenya (dot) org Website: www.clarionkenya.org to obtain more information and to contribute to this fund. Your support through your generous donations will be most appreciated.
5. When the Chief Justice sets a date for the hearing of the chamber summons and main petition, you are each welcome to join us at court so that this is not a case of just a few individuals but all Kenyans. We are all being robbed and we must therefore all make ourselves heard in putting it to an end.
For more information about this case visit www.kejude.org
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Quite a few of them were donning the now familiar Otpor T-shirts made and distributed by the Mwalimu Mati-led Partnership for Change.
Photo/DENNIS OKEYO (SOURCE: NATION)
They were quite disciplined I must say. Many were chanting slogans; some were singing songs; others were hurling abuse- at Commissioner Ali, the First Family; the cops in general etc.
There were almost as many women as there were young men- from all ethnic backgrounds, religions and nationalities.
Generally, this was a STUDENT demo with most of the "usual civil society suspects" conspiciously absent- with the major exception of Gacheke, Ojijo, Keli and the other Bunge la Mwananchi comrades who were right on the frontlines with their banner. I matched with them for a while before joining another part of the protest.
You see I had this triple role as activist/blogger/political editor all wrapped in one, trying to capture it all. On the sidewalks, a curious public stood by, watching-amazed that this time around there were NO STREET BATTLES and ongoing skirmishes with the cops.
Just outside City Hall there a jittery moment as some students spontaneously started stopping buses and other vehicles. Equally on the spur of the moment I dashed over to one of the many marshals who were guiding the procession, introduced myself as a social justice activist and engaged him on the need to avoid distractions, putting it to him that they certainly did not want
the next day's headlines to focus on the harassment of motorists. He quickly grasped my point and persuaded his colleagues to abandon those pranks.
As the huge demo snaked its way down the street in front of City Hall, the streets were filled with the heavy roar of students chanting "We are not thieves! We are not thieves!" as they made a big show of letting motorists pass and avoided trashing the wares of the news vendors.
But just before that the comrades from Bunge la Mwananchi were belting out a freshly minted protest song to in Police Commissioner Ali's dishonour- exhorted the Almighty to tell Kenyans who on earth created the Major General.
Fast forward. We were now on Kenyatta Avenue where the students continued with their peaceful with policemen on horse back leading the way- a startling development in Kenya, making me reminisce about past protests in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal where generally speaking the cops were there to ensure that your political action took place peacefully and without any unlawful disruptions.
I trailed away from the demonstration at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Kimathi Street a couple of metres from the Stanley Hotel- the procession was going up Kimathi street. I was to later learn that it soon converged at the Great Court on the main campus of the University of Nairobi.
It is simply NOT true that the students started looting on University Way. I was speaking to one of my activist friends who was at the Great Court with all the speeches going on. How could this have happened if there was a stand off with the cops on University Way before they got back to campus? What IS TRUE is that students barricaded the roundabout around St. Paul.
What are the main lessons from this landmark protest in Nairobi?
1. Demonstrations by students, workers, civil society groups, squatters and others are likely to remain orderly and peaceful if not faced by the unwarranted intimidation and physical confrontation by the police.
2. Reformers and progressives within the state- and here Prime Minister Raila Odinga played a seminal role- can change the dynamics of citizen action by anchoring these activities within the constitution- even the present flawed Kenyan constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. In other words,
the potential exists for a symbiotic connection between the progressive sections of the state and the broader civil society.
3. There is a need for joint action among the aggrieved. Like I said, this was clearly a STUDENT protest- with all its youthful enthusiasm, militant declamations- as well as some obvious weaknesses- especially the lack of specific, targeted political messages in the form of well organized chants and songs. The flip side of this was the relative ABSENCE of civil society
activists and their mobilizing experience.
4. There is a need for organizers to have a coherent media strategy that includes designated spokespeople.
5. International solidarity will be key to the success of future campaigns
Let me pen off here.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
(Delivered through a meeting with the Prime minister on March 9, 2009)
We, the undersigned Kenyan citizens and civil society organisations, have sought this meeting following the assassinations of Kingara Kamau and George Paul Oulu of the Oscar Foundation and a student last week.
We note that these assassinations come in the context of non-implementation of Agenda Items One and Two of the mediation process last year-that is, ending the violence and disarming and demobilising all armed groups and militias and restoring fundamental rights and freedoms;
On Agenda Item One, ending the violence and the disarmament and demobilisation of all armed groups and militias, we reiterate there the position of the human rights movement that the heavy-handed security approach is insufficient for the task and has also allowed for the security services to stigmatise young, un/deremployed males in low-income rural and urban areas leading to the disappearances and extrajudicial executions of the same. It has also allowed for the security services to extort money from the public on threat of the same;
On Agenda Item Two, the restoration of fundamental rights and freedoms, we reiterate the position of the human rights movement that the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of assembly, association and expression have been suspended since last year, allowing for the security services to harass, assault (including sexually assault) and illegally detain many human rights defenders seeking to legitimately and peacefully protest various government actions and inactions;
We further note that we raised these concerns at a meeting with the minister of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs last year, who promised us she would seek audience for us with the minister of Internal Security on the same-a promise that has not been honoured;
We finally note that last week's assassinations have occasioned, as we believe they were intended to do, an atmosphere of fear and threat among human rights defenders who have consistently tried to demand that these concerns be addressed. As we speak, several human rights defenders who have documented, with evidence, these disappearances and extrajudicial executions, have received verbal threats, have had to move to safe houses within the country and have even had to leave the country;
This atmosphere of fear and threat has been fostered by the repeated statements of heads of security services, their spokespersons and the supposed government spokesperson linking human rights organisations themselves to armed groups and militias-accusations for which evidence has never been tendered to the public to support or formal charges brought against them in court;
We therefore demand:
In the immediate and short term:
1. That the government, through the President and the Prime minister, publicly reiterate their commitment to full implementation of Agenda Items One and Two-and the rights of all Kenyans to life, safety and security of the person, the freedoms of assembly, association and expression as well as the freedoms to be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law;
2. That, concretely, the President and the Prime minister, demonstrate that commitment by offering financial support to the families of those assassinated with respect to funeral expenses and livelihood losses;
3. That, concretely, the President and the Prime minister, demonstrate that commitment by enabling the demonstration planned by University of Nairobi students for tomorrow, march 10, to protest the assassinations to proceed peacefully, with full support of the security services and with no negative consequences such as the closing of the University of Nairobi;
4. That the government, through the President and the Prime minister, publicly reiterate their commitment to human rights defenders by ensuring that all dis/misinformation being peddled to the public about them cease and by guaranteeing their protection from the increased levels of risk and threat resulting from last week's assassinations;
5. That, concretely, the President and the Prime minister, demonstrate that commitment by proceeding with the independent investigation into the assassinations, for which the United States of America has already offered the services of its Federal Bureau of Investigations;
6. That, concretely, the President and the Prime minister, demonstrate that commitment by immediately dismissing from office, the Police Commissioner, the Police Spokesperson the head of the Criminal Investigations Unit, the Provincial Police Officer for Nairobi and the acting Officer in Charge of Police Division at Central Police station among others-who all bear direct political accountability (if not legal accountability) for the harassment, assault (including sexual assault) and illegal detentions of human rights defenders;
7. That, also concretely, the President and the Prime minister, release to the public any information it has regarding the supposed linkage of human rights organisations, such as the Oscar Foundation, with mungiki, by bringing charges to bear in a court of law against such human rights organisations;
In the medium to long term:
8. That the government, through the President and Prime minister ensure the release to the public of any proposed laws and policies to address matters of security sector reform-such as those announced recently by the minister of Internal Security-to allow for public debate and discussion of the same;
9. That, concretely, the President and the Prime minister, push forward not only the laws and policies required for security sector reform, but also the core, critical and fundamental demand of the reports of both the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Elections Violence and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions-that for impartial, independent internal and external accountability mechanisms for all security services and the utilisation of those mechanisms to achieve individual legal accountability for all disappearances and extrajudicial executions of all individual security service members involved in the same;
10. That, concretely, the President and the Prime minister ensure the delivery to the public of a benchmarked and timebound plan of action on implementing the security sector reform proposals of the reports of the CIPEV and the UN SR;
11. Recognising the manner in which Kenya's security agreements with bi/multilateral bodies (notably the governments of the United Kingdom and the USA as well as the European Commission) on matters ranging from anti-terrorism to training to piracy and regional peacekeeping capacity contribute to the apparent sense of impunity and lawlessness of our security services, that the President and the Prime minister arrange tripartite discussions between the government, such bi/multilaterals and civil society on the same to ensure that legitimate security interests being so pursued are not at the expense of fundamental rights and freedoms.
In conclusion, understanding that some of these demands need consultation and discussion within the government, we request a further meeting with you on the same within a week's time at which the President and the minister of Internal Security are also present.
We thank you for your public statements on the concerns raised to date. We stress our willingness for dialogue with the government on these concerns (including constructive criticism on both sides). And we look forward to full implementation of Agendas Items One and Two of the mediation process.
(end/Kenyan citizens and csos/lmw/09)
BidiiAfrika Network Group
Bunge la Mwananchi
Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD)
Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW)
Constitutional Reform and Education Consortium (CRECO)
Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)
International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC)
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
Legal Resource Foundation (LRF)
Muslim Consultative Council
National Council of Non-Governmental Organisations of Kenya
Partnership for Change
Release Political Prisoners (RPP)
Social Reform Centre (SOREC)
Oikya Omtatah Okoiti, Concerned Citizen
Anders Sjogren, Political Scientist, Stockholm University
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
A video confession by a Kenyan Police Officer who witnessed extra-judicial killings of 58 suspects by his colleagues under orders from their superiors. The confession was taken by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on June 25th 2008. The officer, Bernard Kiriinya was shot dead in Nairobi on October 16th 2008. He was 43 years old. He was killed when he was out to move his family.
Friday, March 6, 2009
RIP Kenya... Rest in Peace...
Yesterday evening, two leading human rights defenders, Mr.Kamau King’ara and Mr. John Paul Oulu (also known as GPO), both of Oscar Foundation, were executed in cold blood by a group of men in two vehicles. The two were driving to meet Mr. Kamanda Mucheke of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights at his office. Eyewitnesses have said that the assassins were policemen. In fact, the minibus driver was in police uniform.
An eyewitness at the scene was also shot in the leg and was later taken away from the scene by policemen. We are calling upon the police to reveal the whereabouts of this man since he might be the only one who can positively identify both the assassins and their vehicles. Therefore, we fear for his life.
Oscar was a trained lawyer and a human rights advocate who was the Chief Executive Officer of Oscar Foundation. He was a member of the Law Society of Kenya.
Continue reading HERE
"We believe they were killed because of the sensitive information they had shared with both the Prof. Philip Alston the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, and with the MPs." Continue reading HERE
Standard Newspaper: NGO bosses shot dead amid Mungiki sect Mayhem
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The computer-based index is being mounted on the website, IndexKenya.org. The database will be updated on a regular basis. "In this way, it is hoped that the details of the newspaper articles will reach research scholars, journalists, students and teachers, practitioners in various fields, and the general public."
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Do you remember how angered you were by it? But do you also remember who stood by you? Allow me to jolt your memory:
You will recall that it so turned out that the government decided to put a sock in your mouth around the same time that Kenyans were being arrested for wearing those tshirts and we all took to the streets in solidarity. We were all tired together and we all wore those silly tshirts and shouted, "Freedom" together. Remember scenes like these:
Forgive the long winded narrative but I have learnt that our memories are notoriously short. I will need to jolt your mind and take you back a little bit further. You might recall that in the Sunday Nation Publication Date: 2007/05/27, you published an article entitled, "Vexing Matter of Promissory Notes" in which you stated the following:
Did you actually read what you printed? How much did they pay you to print this garbage? Did you ask us if we thought this was a good use of our tax? Did you ask your wife and kids what they thought? Or is this your idea of a clever little way to get some of your tax back from the thieves. Come on man!
I know, I know, what you will say. "We are the media and everyone has a right to say what they want to say. Even criminals have a right to defend themselves." Sorry, but when you throw things like morals and values and ethics (all those things our mother's taught us and we conveniently forgot), this argument does not hold any ground. The least those bureaucrats could have done if they felt they had to respond is to use our hard earned money to print something with substance. Read it and read again. And it has appeared at least three times in your papers. I know for a fact that has cost us several hundred thousand shillings!
Shame on you Mr. Managing Directors of our newspapers. Shame on you! You gave us the impression that you will no longer accept to be paid legitmately or through kick-backs to front criminals. And what have you done? If we can't trust the government, and we can't trust our parliamentarians and we can't trust the media, who then shall we trust? You tell me.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) in partnership with Royal Media Services has embarked on a 7 weeks media blitz consisting of TV, Radio and Print publicity starting 24 February 2008.
The campaign is built on the platform of the Trilogy: Black Man's Land: Images of Colonization and Independence produced and directed by Anthony Howarth and David Koff, written by David Koff and narrated by Msindo Mwinyipembe. KHRC will further support the series in screening its production of Itungati - the Mau Mau story, a production of Themescape Ltd.
Schedule: The campaign runs as follows on Citizen TV
Tuesday 24 February 2009: White Man's Country Part 1 - 9.45 pm
Tuesday 3 March 2009: White Man's Country Part 2 - 9.45 pm
Tuesday 10 March 2009: Mau Mau Part 1 - 9.45 pm
Tuesday 17 March 2009: Mau Mau Part 2 - 9.45 pm
Tuesday 24 March 2009: Kenyatta Part 1 - 9.45 pm
Tuesday 31 March 2009: Kenyatta Part 2 - 9.45 pm
Tuesday 7 April 2009: Itungati - the Mau Mau Story - 9.45 pm
A series of interviews of Historians, academicians and Mau Mau will take place both on Citizen TV and all 13 vernacular stations.
As a country, we need to accord proper national recognition to those who have played heroic roles in the socio-economic and political making of our country. There can be no denying the fact that despite the gallant role played by millions of Kenyan women and men (either directly or indirectly) in the Mau Mau movement in the fight against British colonialism, the contribution made by this important movement in Kenya's struggle for independence has not been properly recognized by successive independent Kenya Governments.
What is more, the crimes committed against the Kenya Africans who participated in the Mau Mau movement remain the great, un-remedied, injustices of Kenya's history under British colonialism. The Kenyans who suffered Britain's murder, systematic torture, mass rape, castration and general acts of violence and terror during the Mau Mau movement are still calling for justice. The call for the rightful recognition of the Mau Mau movement in Kenya has oftentimes met with resistance from both colonial and post-colonial forces who fear that such recognition is likely to expose the levels of atrocities visited on the Mau Mau during the colonial era or challenge the legitimacy of those holding the reigns of political power in the post-colonial era under the false credentials of having been freedom fighters. Be that as it may, we remain confident that the Mau Mau series will help keep alive KHRCs sustained demand for justice for the Mau Mau heroes and heroines who suffered acts of criminal atrocity during Britain's suppression of the Mau Mau movement.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission has remained steadfast in its quest to have the Mau Mau movement's rightful place in Kenya's history and politics duly recognized. Since 1997, the Kenya Human Rights Commission has been at the forefront in demanding that the Government of Kenya accord the Mau Mau movement its rightful place in Kenya's socio-economic and political consciousness. What is more, in this series, the KHRC will have the pleasure of partnering with Royal Media Services [through Citizen TV and Citizen Radio] to situate the issue of Mau Mau within a broader national context that examines both the historical and contemporary relevance of the Mau Mau movement within the Kenyan nation-state.
Second, this series plays an important role in reminding all Kenyans of our sacred duty to defend our hard-won freedom. The series cannot have come at a better time since, as a country, we recently witnessed the worst form of political [so-called 2007 post-election violence] violence which can be partly attributed to our collective failure to address the systemic socio-economic and political imbalances created in our body politic by years of colonial and post-colonial misrule. As we get ready to, nay, as we mark the first year of the political agreement dubbed "the Grand Coalition", a shaky outfit which was formed as a compromise to end the mayhem witnessed after the 2007 General Elections, the series will enable us to seriously probe the issues of democracy and governance and what we must do as a country if we are to move forward and attain our quest for a sustainable and inclusive nation.
Third and finally, as part of the efforts aimed at redressing Britain's atrocities on the Mau Mau movement, plans are at an advanced stage within the Kenya Human Rights Commission to file a case against HRM the Queen's Government in London early[i.e. February/March 2009 ] this year. The case will seek compensation for the victims of Britain's colonial atrocities committed in the period 1952 to 1960 when Britain declared a State of Emergency in Kenya and resorted to a heavy-handed approach in its response to the Mau Mau movement.
ROLLING OUT THE MAU MAU SERIES
* The Mau Mau Movement: The focus will be on the origins of the movement and whether the movement was justified (especially within the context of international law) in rising up against British Colonialism. Consequently, Britain's response to the Mau Mau movement will be examined, both within the context of its domestic law as well as its international law obligations, as a way of establishing the basis for the Mau Mau suit against the British Government.
* The Politics of Land: Under this theme, the contentious issue of land acquisition and land ownership both within the colonial and the post-colonial eras will be discussed.
* The Politics of Impunity: The colonial origins of the politics of impunity and the continuation of the same in independent Kenya will be examined.
* The Quest for Good-Governance and a Human-Rights Driven Socio-Economic and Political Order in Kenya: The focus here will be on the crisis of governance in Kenya and the relentless push by Kenyans for a more democratic society driven by, among others, the ethos of human rights.
The series will also be supported by a series of articles in Pambazuka News.
An SMS CAMPAIGN in support of the campaign is running. Please send an SMS to 4445 with the words MASHUJAA or HEROES.