Kenya at 50


Friends since my last post we have had elections which as you remember I had talked about so passionately a while ago for two reasons; one regarding the choice of president and the second reason was to do with the conduct of the general populace after the voting and consequently after the tallying. On the first we tentatively have a president and I don’t like him [on that on a another post] and two you know things are really bad when friends call to congratulate for having a peaceful election not a credible one, as the one we had had been far from credible and I will at least attempt to show why.

With that introduction, I want first to educate you my friends about the history of our country as briefly as can be allowed in one post to where we are now. I ask you bear with me.

I will not cover much of the very early forages into the coastal areas by the Portuguese then the Arabs then Germans in the period of the slave trade since this I think did not affect the mainland in a big way but I felt I should mention it. We have a fort, Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in Mombasa in the late 1400s and is one of the attractions at the coast. When you come to visit, please find time and visit.

The history am more concerned with and that is relevant to our topic of today begins with the British protectorate. The British initially had not so much interest in Kenya since the railway line they were building from Mombasa was to take them to Uganda. Things must have changed along the way since when by the time they got to the highlands they must have decided to make it a home. What happened next was the annexation of land owned by natives who were moved to reserves and these fertile highland areas became known as white highlands. The few communities that put up resistance were ruthlessly dealt with. As you all are aware, a time comes when even the slave says to his master and this is what happened in the events leading to the declaration of emergency by the then governor. The different communities [especially the major ones] had different grievances against the colonial government and were united in fighting the good fight. Many lost their lives, others were maimed and others were jailed.

In the history books used in lower and upper primary school [at least at the time when I was in school] presented a picture that I have come to know is different from the facts as they were. It was taught that Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of the republic and prime minister was a member of the Mau Mau and that he fought alongside the greats like Dedan Kimathi and other long forgotten heroes. Well this is as far from the truth as things can get. There was a fallout immediately by those who felt that he had betrayed the reasons why independence was sought. The divisions, who seeds were planted then, seem not to have left us and they have pitched two families, the Odinga’s and the Kenyatta’s,  in a long battle that is where we are now. The difference between the families as it seems to me has always been ideological. When Jaramogi resigned from his post as first vice president, it was on matters of principle. He could not stand the replacement of the white colonialist with a black one. We are at an ideological divide again, we have a fight for constitutionalism and democracy one hand and on another the maintenance of the status quo. Which know which side either family stands.

Sometime ago, I wrote a post where I said human beings as a race are stupid. Today I want to modify it to say that Kenyans are doubly stupid.  I will show you a few tweets from a group of Kenyans who occupy a class called the educated middle class.

image002

These ladies and gentlemen sending these tweets feel themselves as highly educated and progressive and are for all intents and purposes are as tribal as their grandmothers in the village who does not any better! What kind of generation is this. What do they do in the various universities or colleges you attend. Are you able to think beyond your tribe? Or is every issue to you to be reduced to tribe?

The election rules allow for petition for any aggrieved party, what is your problem if he goes to court? Why do you want him to concede if he can show the electoral process was flawed and was not free and fair. What is wrong with him exploring avenues allowed him by the constitution? Why does it seem to heart you so much that you lose all civility and engage in ad hominem attacks?

It is time you grew up from stupidity! If your can’t think for yourselves, let those among you who can think talk for the group but please spare us this level of stupidity and insults!

Unless you didn’t know, the courts exist for one reason, to help in resolving disputes. So while you take high ground insulting one guy who is asking that the electoral body answer as to why there were irregularities you are insulting him. Who is worse?

Look at yourselves, think about what you have written. Does it make you feel intelligent? Do you think you are ahead of him because you can write such invective? You are idiots of the first degree. You want to see more of your stupidity, I will show you and am not going to black out your names, no I want you to always remember when you come here that I called you idiots of the first degree.

Faces of idiots

Faces of idiots

Am still not done with you, those who so call themselves #KOT. You are idiots, you don’t read, you behave like sheep. You saw a friend tweet #someonetellObama and you joined the bandwagon making foolish idiots of yourselves, insulting a gentlemen whose only mistake was to make a wrong comparison while addressing a group of American journalists. Am not saying what he said was in order, am saying your responses were idiotic and does only to show how uninformed you are. I will show you a sample and judge for yourselves whether there was any sense in the vitriol you keep tweeting!

More stupid faces

More stupid faces

The media house kept telling us to keep peace. The question am asking and that must be answered, keep peace at what price? Is peace so important that you media personalities find it so hard to point out election malpractice? You have as a bunch failed in your duty as a public watchdog. You signed contracts to keep your mouth shut no matter what! Well, you forgot that there is electronic media and you don’t control that! While you kept your mouth shut, others were vigilant in ensuring that we do not botch this election. Well, it appears the powers that be may have had other plans. When this is finally over, please look yourselves in the mirror and ask yourself some hard questions, could you have done better? Was the best you could do? And while you are it, ask yourselves why did the BVR kits fail after the massive investment the country put in it. What is the size in bytes of a sms text that would jam a dedicated network? You who have asked us to keep peace must answer us to the price we are going to pay for the peace. You must tell us if integrity, credibility, fairness are also important. How is this peace you want us to keep to be fostered? Are these not the elements that make peace a default?

As I finish this post, I will quote from the speech Raila made on Saturday after the results were announced and I hope those of you who think you win by incivility and insults are deluded!

Those who say he should keep quiet, do you have an explanation for this?

What Kenyans witnessed instead was the failure of virtually every instrument the IEBC had deployed for the election, The poll books, the servers, the telephonic transmission, the BVR – they all failed despite the billions spent on acquiring them. Two days after the vote, the electronic tallying was discarded and fresh counting begun afresh via a manual count.

And for this

In Laikipia North constituency, on Friday the IEBC announced the results of the Presidential vote there – I had 11,908, and the Jubilee candidate had 11,361. But the Laikipia North results had already been announced by the IEBC the day before! The result then was different – I had 11,596 votes while my opponent had 9,707. Where did these extra votes come from? This is not the time to point to other examples of rampant illegality.

And please show some respect for the gentleman. Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if winning by any means is what is important or should fairness and credibility be part of it?

But this time we have a new independent judiciary in which I and most Kenyans have faith. It will uphold the rule of law, and I will abide by its decisions. I will therefore shortly move to court to challenge the outcome that the IEBC announced a few hours ago.

And while you think about that, maybe this video will help you understand how flawed the process was and if you still have a conscience after this you will shut the fuck up! This is just one polling station in Nairobi. What do you think happened in the out stations? Please for the umpteenth time, I ask you use your brains this once!

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

25 thoughts on “Kenya at 50

  1. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Many of us understand how you feel – Bush stole the election in 2000 and 2004.
    – Arch –

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  2. emmylgant says:

    I understand your frustration…

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  3. john zande says:

    I’m going to have to come back to this in the morning. It deserves more time than I have right now…

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  4. Daniela says:

    Post written with passion and conviction!

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  5. john zande says:

    Stupidity is, sadly, a given. It makes revolution necessary. Revolution, though, is not guaranteed to be run by the non-stupid. Looks like we’re stuck with stupid. 😦

    Your appeal to the media was spot on, though. These institutions are “supposed to be” the public watchdog, but they are today little more than tribal cash cows servicing the stupid and ignorant. It’s market differentiation at its rawest, and advertisers and politicians alike LOVE to have a ready-made, easily-reached, pre-packaged audience.

    Great article, Noel.

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  6. Tabitha Cunningham says:

    Thanks for sharing the news from Kenya – it sucks to be smart in a stupid world.
    Just wanted to pass on the link to the family history blog I started: http://fabryhistory.wordpress.com/
    It’s just one post so far – a tease – but I think you will be interested.

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  7. Nick says:

    Hi Noel, I love the blog’s new look. You’ve put a lot of feeling into this one. I completely understand your exasperation with some people. Allow me to make a few comments on your post. My apologies in advance, it’s going to be a bit lengthy. Disclaimer: I did not vote for either of the two leading contenders, so I’m not trying to make the case for either side.

    First, I agree that the rivalry between the leaders of the two opposing sides in the last election has an interesting history. I read “Not Yet Uhuru” by Jaramogi Odinga a while back, and it was an eye-opener. It contains some views you’re not told in history class. It is true that a lot of the ideals that drove the fight for independence have been forgotten. Many leaders from that era betrayed the people that gave their lives for our freedom. You would think that 50 years later people would have wised up, but we seem intent on rewarding those who have shown themselves to be unsuitable to lead. But, at the end of the day, that is democracy. It’s a popularity contest. The best candidate does not always win.

    Something I have come to realize is how deeply ingrained ethnicity is in Kenya. Even amongst the so called “middle class” and “elites”. I never fail to be surprised, sometimes shocked, by the statements people make on social media. I have seen repulsive comments written by people I know personally, people who under any other circumstances you would consider intelligent, educated and urbane. It is very disappointing that when we have a powerful tool like social media, instead of using it to foster understanding and an intelligent exchange of ideas, we bring our own negative sentiments and bigotry into the new space created. I have read some truly appalling things written by supporters of both sides. So I try to stay above the fray. I stay away from those that peddle hate.

    With regards to peace, my opinion that it is the most important thing to work for at all times. I have a friend who was caught up in the violence after the 2007 elections, and I also know some people who lost their loved ones and their property during earlier election periods. Their stories are heartbreaking. I’m sure you and I both saw how bad things can get, and how quickly. I never want to have to see what I saw during the last elections. Keeping the peace should never be negotiable or up for discussion. It is paramount. It should be our single most important consideration. Now, that doesn’t mean that we should tolerate illegality under the pretense of keeping the peace. If indeed there was electoral malpractice, it must be singled out and put right. But the proper place for that is not in the court of public opinion. During elections emotions run high, and when you have leaders constantly telling people to expect a decisive win, objectivity suffers. If you combine a media with a cavalier attitude, politicians making careless statements as they are wont to do in the heat of the moment and supporters who do not always think before they act, it makes for a very volatile situation.

    As for the elections, it is well known that things did not go smoothly. The massive equipment failure that occurred does raise serious questions. Same with the delays in announcing results. But we must be careful not to read ill motives into the situation without considering all the factors at play. The BVR kits were sourced very late in the day. Was there enough time to properly train the staff in using this new technology? The logistical challenges of the new election format were daunting. There were over 33,000 polling stations, some in far-flung areas without the proper infrastructure. As far as I can recall, the IEBC never performed a system-wide test of the equipment. They only held a mock exercise in a few polling stations per constituency a few days to the voting day. They never performed load testing on their servers. Also, the problem was not with the network provider’s service, it was with the IEBC equipment, both in the field (polling books and results transmission kits) and at the operations centre (servers). Another factor to consider is that during voter registration, which was spread out over a much longer period, the BVR kits worked well, and there were few to none complaints about the process. I agree the elections were not handled optimally, preparation was rushed and poorly done, and the tallying process could have been handled better. Does that mean there was foul play? I can’t be sure. I’ll reserve judgement until the case goes to court and the evidence comes out.

    I’ve heard some people raise concerns about the credibility of the institutions that handle election matters. Here I have to disagree. The IEBC and the judiciary are radically different from the ones we had in 2007. Both have members who were appointed after a long and rigorous process, and extensive consultation, with input from everyone who had a stake in government and from the general public. The IEBC today is very different from the unilaterally-appointed ECK in 2007. If we examine the previous conduct of the IEBC, have there been any complaints? I doubt it. Look at how they handled all the by-elections, and the referendum. Until a few days ago, most people were satisfied with their performance. Remember how all judges were subjected to intense scrutiny during the vetting process. Remember how any judge charged with misconduct was dealt with, even the Deputy Chief Justice. Remember the confidence people have in the new Chief Justice. All in all, I’d say our institutions are much better and deserve more trust than the ones from a few years ago.

    The last thing I’d like to say is that I completely disagree with those who are saying that the election result should not be contested. That is absolute nonsense. Leaving aside the fact that any aggrieved party has the right to challenge the results in a court of law, repression of dissent is precisely the thing that leads to violence. Resentment due to injustice, whether real or perceived, will fester and erupt into violence, sooner or later. The healthiest thing for all is a system where any complaints about the process or outcome are heard and determined swiftly and fairly. We spent many years searching for a new constitution, and the last few years setting up institutions that are and are seen to be credible. To say that someone with a genuine grievance should not make use of these institutions for any reason is to miss the whole point of why we have them in the first place. It is healthy, and necessary, to listen to dissent. Rather than telling someone to be quiet and accept a decision he does not agree with, we should be encouraging him to use all available legal channels. The other option is unbearable.

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    • makagutu says:

      Nick I agree with you completely. This is a well thought out response and I know on both sides there have been invective. It is indeed appalling when people considered urbane and elite are as immersed in tribalism like their villagers back at home and I know it is going to take a long time for us to move on from this sickness.

      The question is, regarding the acquisition of the election kits, was someone trying to put IEBC in a situation it couldn’t test the systems? Why for example wasn’t money released in time for their purchase, if indeed everyone was concerned that we do not want a repeat of what we saw in 2007.

      I don’t care who wins the election, my main concern is really whether it is credible and fair. Did it pass this test, I don’t think so.

      Well I don’t like their to be violence. Indeed in some earlier posts I did write passionately about the fact that it would be stupid for us to kill each other because we come from different regions, so I would be the first person to condemn violence, what however I can’t tolerate is a situation where peace is being sold in exchange of credibility and fairness. To that I say no. In the history of the world, France got to where they are after a very blood fight, the US civil war and so many others. If we can’t evolve peacefully to respect the rule of law and to realize that we are stupid to segregate on account of tribe then something more is needed. We still are savage if our thinking is us against them no matter what.

      It is indeed interesting that the only thing that manages to bring the country together is disaster or when we are together in hurling insults at Harambee Stars for not winning any game. I think it is time those who call themselves the educated middle class really started to show a difference.

      Now I will be the first to say I am biased, but at least I treat all politicians equally. In my opinion all of them are thieves! It doesn’t matter whether he comes from my village or elsewhere for that matter and this is you can find it here

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      • Nick says:

        That’s an interesting letter to Raila Odinga. I remember the phrase “Railamania and Railaphobia” from the late VP, but among the PM’s supporters, you seem to be one of the few who do realize that as stellar as his record is, he has some shortcomings.

        I’m glad we both agree on the need for constitutionalism and respect for due process of law. So far the PM has handled himself well. According to his lawyers, there is plenty of evidence to support the claims of rigging. I am one of those who want all this evidence to be brought out in the open. At the end of the day, it’s not about who wins, the real purpose of the exercise should be to test the integrity of the electoral process, and to strengthen it. If those who won are confident they did so fairly, then a decision in their favor will add legitimacy to the victory. But if the results are tainted, then we must know about it, and we must put it right. Right now, the matter is exactly where it should be. Let’s see how it turns out.

        I also agree that unless we change our way of thinking, a schism in Kenya is a real possibility. You can see the cycle repeat itself every 5 years, some faces on both sides change but the core of the groups remains more or less the same. Even for the side that claims to have the numbers, using them to dominate the few is not conducive to holding the nation together. At some point, we must change or change will be forced on us. From what I have seen, this generation is already poisoned. Let’s hope the next one makes better choices.

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  8. Muya says:

    It’s people like you who turn neutral voters like me off your candidate Raila. Anyone who had a contrary opinion becomes “stupid”. And you wonder why 7m Kenyans do not want him in State Hse.

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    • makagutu says:

      Muya you miss my point completely. There is no time I have asked anyone to vote for Raila and that is not my contention. My contention is that the press did not do their duty and I insist it is stupid to insult him because he has gone to court or to insult Obama because he used Kenya and Syria in the same statement.
      So you should notice am not calling anyone who didn’t vote for him stupid, nope, am calling those hurling insults at him stupid and for that I make no apologies!

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  9. mixedupmeme says:

    Thank you for always bringing ideas for us to consider. I honestly do not know much about Kenya. As others have said you write with passion. But it is with clarity……even if I don’t understand it all. 😦
    You respond to your critics with honesty and reason. You state your ideas firmly but willingly invite others to respond.

    This is what you wrote that stands out most to me. So true everywhere.

    “It is indeed interesting that the only thing that manages to bring the country together is disaster …”

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    • makagutu says:

      I think it is important that these issues are discussed openly so that even if change does not occur in our lifetime, we shall have at least set the foundation upon which such change can be built for posterity.

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      • mixedupmeme says:

        Many want instant change and acceptance of ideas. It is good to point out that peaceful change comes gradually. Ideas have to be given time to be thought about and debated. I am sure you would be the first to come to different conclusions if you had facts/evidence to make a decision. It is frustrating in any situation when opinions can’t be discussed.

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