the case for a revolution in Kenya


All class struggles are political.

In the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx writes

Hegel says somewhere that that great historic facts and personages recur twice. He forgot to add: “Once as tragedy, and again as farce.” Caussidiere for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the “Mountain” of 1848-51 for the “Mountain” of 1793-05, the Nephew for the Uncle. The identical caricature marks also the conditions under which the second edition of the eighteenth Brumaire is issued.

He could as well have been writing about Kenya. We have Johnstone Kamau and now we have the identical caricature in his son, Muigai wa Kamau.

In the first case, the one borrowed money from the British Government and the World Bank to pay off or rather to buy back land that had been stolen by the British settlers. This money ended up in either his pocket or those of his cronies. The son is borrowing billions of shillings in the name of building infrastructure, a big chunk ends up in his pockets or those of cronies.

The first one through constitutional means concentrated power in his person. The caricature through use of force and pretenses like fighting corruption has usurped the will of the majority.

In claiming to have a big four agenda, the son has found means to continue the family legacy of theft and corruption. In 1975, the New York Times had this to say

In recent years, however, Mr. Kenyatta has damaged his political image and alienated more and more Kenyans by abuses of power, by piling up a growing fortune and by moving to stifle the development of a freer society in this East African nation.

This has not changed. The caricature has ensured that we continue to lose money through graft and especially by people closest to him. Reading the article above, one would be forgiven for thinking time has stood still for Kenya. Elsewhere they write

Another situation involving the President that has disturbed Kenyans is that he has neither restrained nor disciplined his family and his closest associates in their amassing of wealth, much of it through evasions of law and the exploitation of such national resources as wildlife and forests.]

which is still true.

The Left in Kenya, if there was ever one, has become moribund. If it exists, it has failed to have a unified front, a coherent message nor has it been able to marshal the peasants and the workers together and speak in one voice. Unemployment is at an all time high. Cost of living is above the roof and the Left or whatever is left of it has either been co-opted in the capitalist and violent repressive state or they do not know what to do.

This crisis offers the best time for revolt.

In anticipating Brian, why revolution and not democratic means like the ballot? Because the caricature and his cronies have control of the electoral system. They will kill and maim to stay in power. Only a revolution can change this.

What are the goals of the revolution? For me it is simple

  1. To change the property relations that exist currently where a few people own the land leaving the majority destitute.
  2. In his defense before the judges, Fidel Castro said

The first revolutionary law would have returned power to the people and proclaimed the 1940 Constitution the Supreme Law of the State until such time as the people should decide to modify or change it. And in order to effect its implementation and punish those who violated it – there being no electoral organization to carry this out – the revolutionary movement, as the circumstantial incarnation of this sovereignty, the only source of legitimate power, would have assumed all the faculties inherent therein, except that of modifying the Constitution itself: in other words, it would have assumed the legislative, executive and judicial powers.

this would be the second goal of the revolution. To return to constitutional dispensation. The sovereign belongs to the people. For these words to have any meaning, the people must be in a position to determine how they are governed and what the government does on their behalf. This must include but not limited to infrastructure projects, military spending and so on. If the people cannot vote on these, what then is the vote for?

The Left in Kenya must take this opportunity presented to it by the present crisis to call for revolution. A critical mass is not necessary to begin the revolution. The people will join once the call has been made. It must be radical and it must offer a coherent alternative to the neo-liberal democracy that we find ourselves in.

Viva la revolution.

And here is a song for the revolution

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About makagutu

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

19 thoughts on “the case for a revolution in Kenya

  1. john zande says:

    Will I be able to reach you in your mountain camp?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. renudepride says:

    If it is the united will of the people, then march forward towards progress and self determination! Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. History is replete with failed revolutions. Achieving a critical mass of populist support is no guarantor of success, but it does greatly improve the chances for success. Another critical factor affecting the outcome of revolution is the support for revolution within the government and especially within the military. Revolutionary movements which lack support from establishment insiders, or which rely upon the anticipation of support from a rallying populace, are revolutions ill-conceived and destined to fail.

    This is a general, historical perspective of revolution and only the people of Kenya can accurately assess how it relates to their country’s current situation. The step towards revolution must be taken with great awareness and caution, and it must be taken with great boldness and determination should such a step be chosen.

    It is my sincere hope that Kenyans will find the best solution for this dilemma. Foreign influence and interference in Kenya is unacceptable. However, the path forward should be chosen wisely.

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  4. basenjibrian says:

    Nah. I have no delusions about “elections”. heck, our electoral system gave us Trump, who is interested only in grifting.

    The bigger question is “What is a successful revolution”? Is establishment of a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” the goal? For how long? When the apparatchiks of the new Revolutionary State decide they like their Dacha, is another bloody revolution the next step? When does it end? For every Mandela (and look at the degraded sad state of the ANC TODAY!) there is a Pol Pot, a Mugabe. Mao had plenty of high-sounding words as he unleashed the terror of the Cultural Revolution.

    renuspride: I am skeptical that there can be such a thing as a “united will of the people.” Who are “the people”? If one owns a pair of eyeglasses and can read, is one automatically no longer “of the people”? What if one owns a small market? Or a farm? Who is the class enemy? The Khmer Rouge certainly believed thus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      There has been much talk by brothers and sisters from down south that Mandela was a sell out. That the reason he is deified by the west is precisely because there was really no change in the status of the black man in South Africa. But this is story for another day.

      You ask a difficult question my friend. An in my view, a successful revolution is one that achieves whatever goals it sought out to pursue. The Khomeini’s revolution was a success and that it was later corrupted is in my view immaterial. The same can be said of the first slave revolt- the Haitian revolution- and even though preceding events have dampened the feelings of those successes, to the extent that the defeated the French, that was a success.

      How does the revolution maintain the revolutionary state, this is a much bigger problem. It has been argued the left lacks coherence and as a result permanence but, I think, too, capitalism has been taken to be the norm or something of this kind. It is hoped that the revolution should usher in a more just society. The work of the revolution is to humanise both the oppressor and the oppressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. basenjibrian says:

    Well, your reply sums up the problem. What is success? For whom? Establishing as the power an unelected clergy whose power is depended on the Unalterable Word of Allah INEVITABLY leads to corruption? So, as with the Fall of Man (i.e., the Creator God contains the seed of the fall in Himself), the Revolution contains within itself the very source of the corruption and fall.

    Of course, a revolution, as you note, can be successful in a contingent way when a society has become so corrupt that reform is impossible. Certainly, overthrowing the French sugar slave state was a good thing, even if Haiti has devolved into horrible poverty for generations (for multiple reasons, including the sheer spitefulness of European powers and the United States, but not only because of outsiders!)

    As for Mandela: I am not expert. My casual acquaintance with South African history leads me to question how much more “successful” the purist/Communist/revolutionary opponents of Mandela would have been. Do they advocate a Zimbabwe-style kleptocracy in which corrupt cronies of the Big Man and his party are just given farms that they run into the ground? I am not sure what the better answer for South Africa could have been.

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  6. […] this post that I wrote a while ago is still […]

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