Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Unnecessary Noise

Unnecessary Noise

DISCLAIMER: This post should NOT be used to attack a community or vernacular music. NOT all vernacular music is bad. NOT all members of any given community are chauvinistic and archaic in their thinking.  Any comments that are even remotely inflammatory will be deleted. Kenya is bigger than all of us!

I listen to Kikuyu music, both secular and gospel. A lot of Kikuyu music is very informative and the beat is quite catchy.
Current song I am jamming to is Agiginyani by Shiru wa GP. An awesome keep-your-head-up gospel song.
My attention has been drawn to an emerging genre of Kikuyu music  that is inflammatory, provocative and in very bad taste. In a country that is yet to heal after the post-election violence, these songs are a harbinger of bad tidings.
I shall not sit back and watch my country burn. This post is blowing the whistle. I do not know the extent of the fire that these songs have caused. What I know is the Demathew, Kamande and Muigai are some of the most popular Kikuyu musicians with mega sales of their VCDs. Thus I shudder to imagine the number of households that are playing these songs.
For the many who cannot hear Kikuyu, I have translated snippets of the songs and in Demathew’s case explained the nuances as he sings in parables. You can ask your Kikuyu friends to translate further.
Uhuru ni Witu (Uhuru is Ours) – Kamande wa Kioi
Translated snippets:
Greetings people of the house of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I bring you a message from all Kikuyu musicians. This is a message from God. Uhuru is the Moses of the Kikuyu nation. He is meant to move Kikuyus from Egypt to Canaan. Do not agree to be divided. Let all votes go to him. He is ours. He is anointed by God, poured oil on.
Raila, there is a call. Go to Mama Ngina’s house, a king has been born there. Once there ask where Uhuru is seated and pour oil on him. Just like Samuel did for David in the Bible. Stop chasing the wind Agwambo, go to Icaweri and anoint Uhuru.
You thump your chest about Hague, is Hague your mother’s? There is a curse from God. Philistines who do not circumcise cannot lead Israel. When Abraham stressed God, he was told to go get cut, even you General of Migingo, your knife is being sharpened.
Listen to the entire song  here.
Hague Bound – Muigai Wa Njoroge and Muhiko
Translated snippets:
Question: If it was you who is being pushed to The Hague what would you do?
Answer: I would call my family and divide up my property and then ask my mother to pray for me.
Question: What if you knew that Hague you are being pushed there by an uncircumcised man who wants to push you there and take over your wife and all your wealth? A man who can do anything to ensure you are in problems.
Answer: There it is better to die. Things for a man are not governed by an uncircumcised man. I would kill him. Its better they increase my charges.
Question: What would you tell your crying supporters as you are being shipped to Hague?
Answer: I would tell them to pray for me and know I am being persecuted for my love of my community.
Question: When you get to Hague how you would ensure the white man does not cheat you?
Answer: I would ask for proceedings to be done in Kikuyu.
Question: When on the dock what would you be thinking of the uncircumcised man who is the source of your predicament?
Answer: I would ask God to forgive him. I would also ask that he gets circumcised so that he matures mentally. I would also ask Kenyans to be very wary of that man.
Listen to entire song here.
Mwaka wa hiti (The year of the hyena) – Demathew
Translated and explained snippets:
As Demathew I prophesize and let the stones hear me if men wont.
It is now the year of the hyena. Who will teach you and your ears are blocked?
When a man is seated he sees further than a boy on top of a tree.
You are like a greedy hyena seeing a man walk and following him hoping that his arm will drop off. You follow him till he boards the train and the arm does not drop and you never eat. (A reference to all that may benefit from ICC)
Before Jesus was crucified He stood in the court Judge Pilato and he answered all questions, Judge Pilato said Jesus is free but the crowd asked that a thief be freed instead. (ICC will show Uhuru’s innocence)
Where are you (Peter Kenneth) from? If you were one of us, you would be pained by the people burnt in Kiambaa church. My brother lost his property in Kisumu, how can you tell us he (Raila) is our community’s friend.
Father (Jomo Kenyatta) I feel sad when I see your son (Uhuru) being persecuted by men of ill-will and a woman (Martha Karua) is carrying their bags.
In-law (Kalonzo) things are not going well for you now. You are clueless and your matters are now being discussed by women in the market. But I still remember how you saved me (after 2007 elections) when leopards had attacked me.
Listen to the entire song here.
After listening to these three songs I shuddered. If the leading lights of Kikuyu music are doing this, then how much more prevalent is it? Are other communities also producing such inciteful vernacular songs? This is a ticking time bomb right under our noses!
Let us think of how to put out this fire before it is too late!



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kenyan Thoughts III

You cannot choose the days to be a nationalist and the days you will retreat to the comfort of ethnic cocoons. Being Kenyan is a full-time commitment. This country needs citizens who are Kenyans all the time; not those who are vernacular Kenyans most of the time.
By Chief Justice, DR Willy Mutunga

The Prime Minister, Ministers, Ambassadors, Permanent Secretaries, Commissioners, Mr. Chairman, Citizens, friends, ladies and gentlemen:
I feel singularly privileged to speak at the ‘People’s Conference on National Diversity, Ethnicity and Race’. The timing of this conference is fortuitous as its substance is significant in Kenya’s continuing search for clarity around its identity. Coming just after the fourth anniversary of the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement and in anticipation of a General Election, conversations such as these have a special significance in negotiating citizenship and nationhood.
Although I was asked to speak on the question of who is a Kenyan, I have expanded the focus of my remarks for reasons that will become apparent presently. And in doing so, let me start with an anecdote: 
One of the biggest threats to nationhood has been the over-supply of the vernacular politician and vernacular Kenyan and a shortage of nationalists. Who is the vernacular politician or Kenyan? It is that person who views everything through the prism of the tribe. They equate national interest with ethnic interests. They are obsessed with ethnic hegemonic projects. They hold hollow but dangerous supremacist ideologies and, have invented false notions of ethnic entitlement, most of it anchored on exaggerated grievances, yet mostly fueled by excessive greed. They revel in insults and derogatory remarks about other tribes and groups, as they descend into mindless orgies of mirth and self-amusement. When they lose an argument, they rush to the defense of ethnic stereotype. 
They are incapable of mobilizing across communities, and consider being referred to as the undisputed leader of the tribe as the ultimate political prize. They indeed treat it as a badge of honor. They excel in what divides us, and use their evil genius to create more divisions. They will never invest in the politics of issues, unless they are anthropological. When they are appointed to public office, their official trips to the countryside are regionally selective. They readily hide behind the community, when caught in a corrupt deal. They excel in rallying around the tongue; not the flag. They are sometimes very educated, professional and rich, but find satisfaction in spewing ethnic verbiage. They sometimes flaunt modern gadgetry as a mark of sophistication, but use these platforms to purvey sectarian drivel. Yet, both the vernacular politician and Kenyan thrive because they find fertile ground in the minds of Kenyans, who pretend to be powerless victims when caught imbibing this drivel. You cannot choose the days to be a nationalist and the days you will retreat to the comfort of ethnic cocoons. Being Kenyan is a full-time commitment. This country needs citizens who are Kenyans all the time; not those who are vernacular Kenyans most of the time. Just in case you forgot, Chapter Six is partly intended to eliminate this breed.
In Chapter Three, the Constitution is clear on who is a Kenyan: Anyone who is born in Kenya, or born of a Kenyan, is a citizen. Anyone who marries a Kenyan or applies for citizenship after living in the country for a certain period can become a citizen. That citizenship is universal and indivisible. But citizenship is not just a juridical concept; it is a sociological and political reality. 
For the great majority, Kenya is the land of their birth. It is their home. This is where their lives are, and it is where they will be buried. They are Kenyans because they have no other nationality. Their idea of being Kenyan defines citizenship not just for themselves, but also for all others who seek to voluntarily join this nation.
For almost 50 years, Kenya has struggled to carve itself out as a distinct entity in the community of nations on the basis of its geography, attractions, potential and complex cultural heritage. It is the nation defined by peasants who died by the bullet clutching soil in their clenched fists as it is by those who were bewitched by its splendour and opportunities, and poured their energies into making it their home. It is a place of possibility for the human spirit to thrive in freedom, justice and dignity; a place to nurture hopes and dreams that could be bequeathed to future generations.
Yet, the idea of Kenya is also problematic. At independence, the responsibility of nurturing the nation’s hopes and aspirations passed to the new leadership. After all, history was already replete with examples of nations that had been forged on the basis of brute force and strong personalities alone. The results, in our case, are a mixed bag.
In spite of the many contradictions emanating from our competing hopes and dreams, a national character has emerged over time that is celebrated in the country’s remarkable successes across sport, innovation, academia, diplomacy, industry and creativity. No one has any problems recognizing and embracing this Kenya – the world beater on the athletics track, the home of creative artists, industrious people and probing intellectuals. Kenya has a soul. Perhaps it also has a skeleton. The flesh and other details require work.
Diversity has been a painful resource for most of African countries. It has been the source - or even more accurately - the excuse for political conflict and instability. And, more recently, diversity has formed the basis for an emergent culture war on gender, sexuality, and reproductive health among others. However, I refuse to believe that diversity, or ‘differentness’, in and itself, is the cause of these conflicts. To a very large extent, it is the instrumentalisation of difference by the political class that has plunged our country into chaos, thereby undermining the emergence of a professional state of the Weberian variety. In our diversity, the political class has found and minted a negative currency for politics.
The Kenyan political elite has achieved a remarkable feat in successfully conflating class and ethnicity thus eliminating traditional political ideology from guiding our political contests. In fact, they have succeeded in subordinating class to ethnic considerations in political discourse, which makes two Kenyans living in the slums or in the upmarket neighbourhoods, opt for different political choices. Our ethnic divisions have made us no respecter of our material conditions when making political choices. Instead we seem to derive a lot more useless value and satisfaction in ethnic esteem contests!
But this should not entirely surprise us. Our country, like most of African countries, was founded on divisions. The colonial state did not disguise its biases to serve a tiny elite and exclude the majority of the population. Kenya was founded on division; thanks to Lord Fredrick Lugard’s philosophy of Dual Mandate. Divide and rule has characterized the capture, use and abuse of state power. Ethnic groups, races, and other identity collectives have been brutalized or rewarded simply because of who they are. Ethnic profiling and stereotyping has become both a national full-time and pastime. The discriminatory tendencies of the state inherited from the colonial period and perfected after independence, engineered severe shortages of public goods that severely undermined the nationalism project and negated the very foundation of the Kenyan nation.
This has institutionalized grievance, which exploded in our faces in 2007/2008. As we approach another election, I feel that the space for re-embarking on the nation-building project is reducing, and I find it worrying that we seem not to have learnt from the past, at least going by the utterances I hear, and the conduct I observe.
On August 27, 2010, we decided that we want to be a nation when we promulgated a new constitution. Sometimes, discussions on the Constitution appear abstract, thus obscuring the underlying truth (or is it assumption?) which is that Kenyans have considered the idea and decided that they want to be together.
The Constitution, in its preamble, celebrates the pride of Kenya’s ‘ethnic, cultural and religious diversity’, and proclaims our ‘determination to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation’. The founding values and principles articulated in Article 10 highlight inclusiveness, non-discrimination, equity, and protection of the marginalized. The Constitution recognises culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenyan people and nation. Equality, diversity, is sprinkled in the entire document, including Chapter Thirteen on the public service. The constitutional commitment to equity and fairness is further reinforced in the devolved system of government that is in Chapter Eleven.
But being together is not the same as being united. There is nothing preordained and natural about Kenyans being together. It is a deliberate decision on the part of the citizenry, a choice we have freely made. We have signed a social contract among ourselves, and with our leadership now and in the future. That is why in the preamble we are exercising our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance in our country and adopt and enact the constitution to ourselves and to future generations. The boundaries of this nation, and the communities within it, will only remain if we respect the terms of that social contract.
Contracts are supposed to be performed. They contain rights and obligations. We have a duty as Kenyans to obey the law and to uphold the Constitution. In return, the state has a duty to protect life and property as well as to offer services.
Self-determination and breakaway tendencies are part of human history not so much because those who lead them have a reflexive appetite for war and fragmentation, but because there is a failure to honor the social contract, or a political practice characterized by marginalization, or lack of respect for the other, and frustration of the aspirations for some.
This country must not delude itself that it is inured from these afflictions. We must be careful. We must be sensitive. We must daily invest in the nation building project. In our conduct, our conversations, and decisions, we must demonstrate an interest in the survival and development of Kenya as a nation state. In this respect, every individual, every leader, every voter has a duty, a responsibility and an obligation.
Since national identity is inclusive, it has got to be negotiated as broadly as possible. It cannot be the exclusive province of a few. Citizenship is the great political equalizer that gives like voice to those at the center as at the periphery. Because of the temptations to disengage from the center, building a nation requires not just the consent, but also the active participation of those at the periphery. At the core of the nation must be rationale as well as guarantees of protection for those at the periphery to feel a part of the whole than if they were alone.
When we refer to certain regions as economically unviable, it is important to realize that this phraseology is loaded with stigma and discrimination. There is no region that is unviable. The world is replete with examples of deserts that have transformed into economic power houses – Israel, Dubai, Singapore and many more. Any leader who regards and refers to any region in this country as unviable is questioning the very viability of his or her own leadership. It merely demonstrates a remarkable poverty of ideas; a paucity of imagination; and a deficit of ambition. The language of high potential and low potential is a myth -- it is manifestly discriminatory, and has been used historically as a fig leaf behind which to hide to share state resources in an inequitable manner. These are the tendencies that undermine notions of citizenship. Besides, the constitution decrees devolution and equitable distribution of resources.
In numerous instances, the deliberate or unintended sabotage of certain hopes and dreams has alienated significant portions of the population from the idea of Kenya as a common good, a place of freedom, justice, dignity, self-actualization and opportunity.
We cannot build a nation on the foundation of rhetoric alone. We must express our intention, but also follow it with action. We must demonstrate that something has changed. We must crack the constitutional whip to ensure that political parties that intend to obtain registration and participate in elections do not organise around our divisions – ethnic, regional, ability, or gender. We must design our electoral processes so that they embrace minorities. 
Our citizenship must be universal, where every individual enjoys the civic rights granted by the Constitution even as he or she retains his or her other identities, including the ethnic one. We must ensure that those who attempt to trample on the rights of citizens do not find comfort in public office.
We must also fully discharge our obligations to each other as individuals who are part of this polity. These obligations start from the basics of requirements: respect for each other as individuals, as well as respect for communities and other identity groups. It is socially obnoxious, politically reckless, and economically ignorant to cheapen the presence of any community in this country by making derogatory remarks as has been all too evident in our country’s history. It is only the weak minded, people incapable of comprehending the origins of the modern state, its philosophy, its instruments and its edicts that resort to such approaches in managing expressing disagreement. Thus when I hear leaders warning whole communities that Kenya has its owners, I wonder whether such leaders appreciate the unconstitutionality and illegality of such comments.
Just as a fish that grows in a pond may consider itself the king of the sea until it is introduced into the ocean, we too must also awaken to the reality that our ethnic and sectarian interests may only matter if we are disconnected from the rest of the world. Unless we all recognize that Kenya is a confederation of cultures, languages and interests, we shall never be able to cultivate the sensitivity and respect for one another necessary to hold us together. We might never live up to true greatness as a member of the community of nations because we overstayed our welcome in the pond when the ocean beckoned.
The things that are seen to divide us – ethnicity, religion, race, class, clan, region, occupation, sexual identity, generation, disability – are also the raw materials needed to create the mosaic of one nation. 
I also want to caution that pejorative commentaries, sometimes excessive even in comedy, should be purged from our national discourse. Negative ethnic profiling is sometimes aided by excessive parody. What was essentially parody sediments into ‘truth’ and the rest of us begin to make decisions in real life based on the emerging caricatures. I enjoy comedy, and I would be the last person to suggest that anybody should censor it, but let us give a thought to instances when well meaning activity may end up hurting the broader public interest. Comedy should complete the cycle by celebrating our idiosyncrasies, and deliberately banish any notions of ethnic hierarchy that may unwittingly be transmitted.
In our continuing search for identity, we need to settle the question of the philosophy that defines our nationhood not just as Kenyans, but also as Africans. We need to search and find that symbol of nationhood that will inspire us to create a just, peaceful society we all desire to live in.
The creation of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in the aftermath of the sad events following the 2007 elections is an attempt to begin this conversation. It must seize the moment to align our daily endeavors towards nurturing a truly nationalistic culture. Beyond the commission, all Kenyans have a duty to construct the nation’s identity by embracing diversity, tolerance and respect for one another. Press coverage of the identity problem treats it as a problem only in the public sector. I think that this problem is probably more acute in the private sector. NCIC owes this country an audit on ethnic concentration in terms of employment, contracts, and promotion. We must cultivate a culture of tolerance draw from the spirit of the Constitution; the edicts across religions. NCIC needs to conduct attitudinal surveys so that we can improve on our tolerance levels and eliminate trust deficits.
In the Judiciary, we have acknowledged the challenges we have faced in the past in this regard. We shall partner with the NCIC within the context of the National Council for the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to help NCIC deliver on its statutory mandate particularly in the context of the coming elections.
The Judiciary itself faces these challenges of diversity. Only recently in a station not too far from here, three of our judges stared the problem in the eye when the paralegal staff from one community boycotted a luncheon the judges had hosted because their colleagues had accused them of speaking in their local dialect while at work!
In conclusion, I know that while identity can be a puerile matter it can still be quite rewarding to some people. I am privileged to come from a profession, the law, that long recognized equality of human beings long before other disciplines. Physiologists now tell us that you cannot identify people’s identities through any other body’s organs such as the heart, brain etc. The Human Genome Project showed that we are 99.9 per cent the same. That, of the nearly 30,000 genes in the human body, the diversity within races and tribes is much higher than between them. It is still amazing that despite this evidence from science, a perversion of difference capture a large segment of our intelligent minds. Further, sameness is no guarantor of stability and harmony. Somalis and Koreans are some of the most homogenous people on every front: looks, culture, language, religion – yet we all know that these countries have been at war for many years. It is not enough to just look alike, or speak the same language. And a corollary to the right that we are all equal is the fact that none of us is better than the other on account of ethnicity or other identities. Nobody should be punished or rewarded on the basis of identity.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I hope that this conference and the deliberations that emanate from it awaken all citizens to the great responsibility each one of us bears in fashioning, perfecting and sustaining the Kenyan nation. As Kenyans we should daily ponder what brand of Kenyans we are. Are you a vernacular Kenya or are you a nationalistic and patriotic Kenyan?
Dr Willy Mutunga
Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court
Republic of Kenya

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kenyan Thoughts II

By  Makau Mutua

The recent terror attacks on Kenya could be the tip of an iceberg. Methinks that very dark forces are at work. Some very bad people are trying to wreck Kenya.
Unless security is quickly restored, Kenya could become another African catastrophe.
Terrorists, drug cartels, criminal gangs, secessionists, rogue politicians, and merchants of impunity are tearing at Kenya’s fabric.
Mark my words. It’s not a long distance from here to Somalia, or the DRC.
Which begs the question – why does the Kenyan State appear to be asleep at the switch when the country is under attack?
Is it incompetence, complicity with the attackers, or State failure?
Let’s take a “deep dive”. I have three theories about who’s attacking Kenya.
States the world over rarely reveal grave security risks to the public. Even in more open democracies like the United States, secret services are ordinarily tight-lipped.

They may foil, or thwart, a terror attack. But you rarely hear about it unless someone is charged in open court, or a political decision is made to tell the public. This is as it should be.
Otherwise sources and methods of intelligence gathering could be compromised.
Equally worse, on-going investigations could be breached. That’s why states rarely reveal to the public even 10 per cent of what they know.
But in Kenya, one gets the impression the State doesn’t know much, or is either unable or unwilling, to act on what it knows to end terror attacks.
My first theory is that Al-Shabaab has been behind “only a few” of the terror attacks.
Some of these seem to have been by “freelance” amateur terrorists. By which I mean incompetent and misguided locals fired up by crude Taliban ideology.
Such attacks lack sophistication and careful planning. Their execution has been primitive. It’s clear that Al-Shabaab hasn’t carried out many serious attacks on Kenya.
They’ve tried, but haven’t been wildly successful. I suspect that Al-Shabaab will be quick to claim responsibility when – and if – it launches a spectacularly successful attack on Kenya.
That’s how terror works – the true terrorist is keen to claim credit for his handiwork. That’s why Al-Shabaab may not be behind many of the grenade attacks.
My second theory is based on deductive reasoning. This is investigation by elimination.
Since I have eliminated Al-Shabaab as the main source of Kenya’s security woes, I want to ask a central question. Who else would want to harm Kenya?
The Swahili have a saying – kikulacho ki nguoni mwako. The English equivalent is that “your enemies are among your friends”.
My theory here is that there is a criminal element embedded in the State.
It’s this element that appears to have been working in cahoots with the Artur brothers.
It seems to be involved in drug trafficking, extra-judicial killings, and grand corruption.
Which begs the question – why would this criminal element sponsor what appears to be terror attacks?
Criminality within the state thrives in a republic of fear. A panicked public is unable to hold the state accountable.
Public fear saps the energy of the citizenry and allows malignant and dark forces to loot the treasury and carry out all manner of illegalities.
Usually, elements of the police and other secret services participate in, and benefit from, the illicit activities of drug traffickers and high corruption.
Senior officials, politicians, and businesspeople use the police and the security services in protection rackets.
Seemingly random “terror” attacks could be the work of criminal elements within the state. This is one indicator of a “rotting state”.
Kenyans are right to ask whether such a Mafioso exists within the state.
My final theory is connected to the Kibaki succession politics. Everyone knows that Kenya is on edge.
I can’t remember such a period of political uncertainty in Kenya’s history.
Some of the leading presidential candidates have been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
It’s now a foregone conclusion that their trial at The Hague will begin in a matter of months.
Yet – incredibly – the suspects have insisted they’ll be on the ballot paper.
How they will defend themselves for the most serious crimes known to man and run for the presidency beats me. But one thing is clear.
Their supporters have vowed to lay waste to the electoral process if the suspects can’t run.
What am I getting at? Insecurity connected to the Kibaki succession and the ICC trials may be used as an excuse to scuttle the election.
A spike in violence could easily lead to the declaration of a state of emergency by the government.
Besides the ICC, there are other dark clouds overhead. Nascent secessionist movements like the so-called Mombasa Republican Council could heighten tensions.
Then there is the unresolved matter of the census in northern Kenya. How could a free and fair election be conducted without a legitimate headcount?
These volatile issues threaten to engulf the country. My suspicion is that the criminal element within the state is likely to add fuel to this fire.
What can be done to avoid these doomsday theories? I wish they were just theories, but I am afraid they might be real. If so, who’s watching over Kenya?
Does the state have the wherewithal to avoid a meltdown similar to the one in 2008?

Where, I ask, is President Mwai Kibaki in all of this? Is Mr Kibaki incapable of acting decisively?
If so, what role should the other arms of the state – the legislature and the upper echelons of the judiciary – play to restore sanity? We need all hands on deck.

Kenyan Thoughts I

We are not all responsible for 2008 Mayhem
By Lukoye Atwoli

In an attempt to sound reconciliatory and avoid inflaming passions one way or another, many commentators have taken to asking Kenyans not to point fingers at those they think are responsible for our ethnopolitical crises, including post-election violence after the 2007 General Election. Most have argued that all of us are to blame for these problems, having contributed to the current state of near-total state failure in one way or another.

This phenomenon is not new, however. The claims climaxed some time in 2008 as everyone who could be heard in the public space was busy emphasising peace and reconciliation, and discouraging those of us who thought we had an idea about what had happened to our country from speaking out.
Telling us that if we search deep within ourselves we would find some reason to be guilty was their way of silencing us and buying space for whatever they were calling peace and reconciliation.
Let me be the first one to remove myself from this herd of murderers and arsonists, if no one else will speak out for me.
On the morning of December 27, 2007, my family and I used the Kisumu-Eldoret road via Nandi Hills on our way to Eldoret town where we were registered to vote. All along the way, it was already evident that all was not well.
Burnt tyres, logs and rocks blockaded parts of the road in some areas, evidence that some demonstration or riot had already taken place even before Election Day.
People milled by the roadside at most urban centres we passed and, in some places, there was a bit of shouting and sloganeering that we assured ourselves was born of the usual electoral euphoria.
On the outskirts of Eldoret town, we learnt from the news on the radio that some vehicle had been torched in town, suspected of carrying marked ballot papers.
As we voted, we were acutely aware of the tension, and the possibility of post-election violence. Subsequent events, as they say, are inscribed in the history books.
Two weeks before the 2007 General Election, I had penned an article denouncing acts of violence that had been labelled “political violence”.
I rejected this tag, instead characterising looters and arsonists as common criminals using politics as a convenient cover.
But for the context set in the campaign period, anyone reading that article today would be forgiven for thinking it was discussing the post-election violence.
I was, therefore, utterly shocked when almost everyone feigned surprise and claimed that the post-election violence was unforeseen and caught them by surprise, when all indications before the election had been that a peaceful outcome would be the exception, not the rule.
With this background, I challenge these “peacemakers” to point out what I did to be held responsible for the violence that erupted after the election, and the subsequent dysfunctional government that was rammed down our collective throat.
As a matter of fact, my colleagues and I were intimately involved in designing a response to deal with the physical, psychological and social outcomes of the violence after it broke out.
This habit of rushing to implicate whole populations betrays a mindset that is comfortable with a herd mentality of crime and punishment, which is antithetical to the liberal democracy we are apparently forging in Kenya.