Death announcement

12 years ago, after several years of agitation, civil society action and hotly contested election among others, we promulgated a new constitution that in some ways expressed the aspirations of the people- sort of. For the most part, it was a national effort. And when it was taken to the polls, it was supported by a majority of Kenyans and it became the supreme law of the land. So we can say that was a rebirth of the nation.

But it was infected immediately with terminal illness. Immediately after, other opportunistic diseases took hold and the rest as they say is history. The nation is hurtling down a fast lane to death. Maybe it is already dead and walking among us as the living dead.

You see, the new law had a whole chapter dedicated to integrity. It had minimum ethical or should I say moral requirements for would be office holders. It was hoped by the framers of this law and the people, that this requirement would with time see the public service cleaned up of people of questionable characters but this wasn’t to be.

Kibaki infected the new law with impunity- the terminal illness- by making appointments outside the law. The judiciary did not and still doesn’t seem to know what to do. But the disease got a boost when Kenyans against all common sense decided that the best thing to do is to elect, among others, the two people who were at the time answering charges of instigating a sort of ethnic cleansing. Unless you are slow, you know where this ends.

Impunity has reigned supreme in the last 12 years. The gender rule, parliament failed in its mandate to actualize it. Even the Chief Justice failed when it mattered. So in effect, the supreme law was infected with a deadly disease from which it would not recover. And my friends, when the law dies, the nation dies it.

We recently had elections and in his first act, the president has appointed a cabinet that says in no uncertain terms that death to chapter 6 is the intended goal. How does he defend appointing to his cabinet a person who is in court answering to charges of murder, discharging a fire arm in public and all.

So, it is the supreme law and with effect the nation that I today I announce its death. It leaves behind impunity, lawlessness and sleaze as its orphaned children. We hope they will not suffer greatly.

In one of our dailies

A Dr. Chacha wrote an article where he seems to lament the absence of god in Kenya during elections. One would think there are jurisdictions where god has a voters card since he tells us that god doesn’t vote in Kenya which should be obvious.

He takes umbrage on a politician calling himself a son of mau mau instead of a son of god and interprets this as choosing violence as a means of resolving political dispute instead of peaceful alternatives. I don’t think this interpretation is correct nor justified.

In the same article, he writes evil always triumphs over good evidenced by the bad leaders we end up with. These leaders are voted by the masses. I hope the good lecturer is willing to agree that the voters prefer evil to good, otherwise I don’t see how his argument can be sustained.

It is parsons who have always insisted leaders are anointed by god regardless of how dubious their character is.

His conclusion that religion doesn’t affect how we vote should not be mourned but actually celebrated. We are not electing the bishop but representatives who shall legislate on our behalf. And religion shouldn’t determine how people vote.That ethnicity affects how people vote is an area for study for social scientists.

And with that, have a great weekend everyone.

Madaraka day celebrations

Yesterday was the 59th Anniversary of our Republic. An occasion where the president gets to address the nation, award national honours, exercise his powers of clemency and all.

One queer thing during the celebrations was a display of hardware by the defence forces and it got me thinking, to who is this display meant? Is it to our neighbours with whom we are not at war? Is it a show of force to the citizens in case they have the crazy idea to overthrow the government?

The country has made some progress in the 59 years of neo- colonisation. Whilst there is still work to be done, women representation has improved. Infrastructure has improved. Access to health care is still struggling. There is improvement in access to education but the quality is doubtful.

There is improvement in access to justice though the office of the president is a notorious law breaker. The police still behave like those employed by her majesty’s colonial office.

While unemployment was already high, the pandemic made things even worse. Because of the different public containment policies implemented at the height of the pandemic, many small and medium sized enterprises had to relieve their workers. And now the situation has been even worsened by the Russian- Ukraine conflict.

One hopes that a country could learn from mistakes and successes of others and follow those paths, but naah. Private interests come before public choice and the result is the same mistakes over and over.

Have a good Friday everyone.

Kibaki, our third president is dead

And while most mediaoutlets are on about how he was the greatest after sliced bread and thermos flask, i am not boarding this train. If there was ever a man who had been given an opportunity to be great and squandered it, here lies on such man.

So, on the positive side, during his tenure, there was increased government spending that enabled the private sector, in many sectors of the economy, to prosper. The economy was on a positive trajectory in his first term but by the end of the second term, it was on a downward trajectory from where, following the mismanagement by the Hague duo, it hasn’t recovered.

He squandered the opportunity to steer the country away from nepotism by forming an inclusive government following the mandate he had been given by the people, instead, he filled the government with cronies and his Makerere associates.

He squandered an opportunity to address theft of public funds from the top by making it impossible for his anticorruption tzar to work. Instead he rewarded those who had been accused of wrongdoing.

By stealing elections and swearing himself in at night, he precipidated a breakdown in law and order leading to violence that exceeded previous clashes that were said to have government support in Moi error era of government terror.

He squandered an opportunity to see the rebirth of the nation, in his first term, through the birthing of a new constitution, instead, we recall the extra judicial murder of Dr. Mbai and many others whose deaths were not solved and will never be solved.

I will come back here to continue to remind ourselves of the failures of his regime.

There was never a country

In the past, in this country, we have had a parliament that at least, in perception, had a functioning parliament. Many times they wouldn’t be successful in challenging the government position but they did attempt to. In those days, we had an official opposition party and a back bench. Then Kibaki came, stole elections and that was the end of active check of government in Kenya by parliament.

When Uhuru got elected by 93% and Raila got sworn in as the people’s president and shortly after, was bought by Uhuru, the government has been free to do as it pleases. And recall, most of the sitting MPs are what we call vifaranga vya komputa– computer generated MPs- for those who don’t understand my French. These crop of legislators owe only computers their allegiance and no one else. The country has in the mean time gotten worse as a bandit state.

in the days of yore, people would disappear but mostly at night and be accused of subversion by the Moi government or they would be involved in some gruesome accident with a tractor or some other such contraption. Not anymore. The current government lays siege to your house without shame and no one representative of this poor constituent raises a voice.

Then there are the cases of people who are found in sacks floating around rivers or in forests. And many other such banditry. It’s crazy when you think about it, really. The question one want to ask, is, how sick is this society that we live in? And how callous are the people who do these things?

And these same people want our votes.

Pandora papers and a media that is asleep

The case of Kenya.

Now, unless you are Ark, you probably have heard about the recent leak dubbed by the ICIJ as the Pandora Papers concerning money kept in offshore accounts by some elites from different countries.

Of interest to me in this matter is that the family that has been at the centre of looting this country for a combined duration of more than 50 years has been named as in the leak as having some dosh stashed in an offshore account. This could not by itself be illegal but raises a lot of many questions such as source of funds, was tax paid on them, how much more is the first family and other families hiding in a country impoverished by mismanagement of public goods.

The two bodies that would be asking questions about this matter are asleep. The main stream media feeds us political gossip. Parliament is useless. I can understand why parliament is unable to function. Half of them or more, if the questions raised during the presidential election petition are computer chicks- vifaranga vya kompyuta- as we say here. They owe allegiance to computer algorithm not the constituency of humans they represent.

The media is owned by these oligarchs and do not want to lose advertising money from the government of the day by appearing to be independent. Or critical. The only recourse is to read what independent journalists write but these do not have a wide reach and so such serious matter dies without raising eyebrows in a country people plagued by poverty,unemployment and unequal access to resources.

Maybe some day we will get to the bottom of the systematic rapine of the country by successive regimes and recover stolen loots even if it takes 100 years to do it. It will have to be done.

Until then, we wait.

I don’t think we get the politicians we deserve

But if we do, my fellow citizens really did choose from the bottom of the barrel.

First is the circus that is Nairobi County. The governor was impeached but he is still calling shots from out of office. Before that he made a joke of the constitution by failing to nominate a deputy following the resignation of one Polycarp less than a year(?) into the office.

Still on the same Nairobi County, the electoral body gazetted Waititu who was impeached as governor in a different county for among others abuse of office! This despite the constitution having a chapter dedicated to conduct of public officers.

While still on the constitution, the powers that be who have failed in implementing the constitution we fought so hard for have convinced themselves and are now trying to convince the rest of us that it is the constitution that ought to be changed and not that politicians should change.

And while on politicians. I don’t know who they represent. In April or May last year, the government announced a raft of tax holidays or reliefs to put money into people’s pockets following the disruption occasioned by Covid. These reliefs expired on 31st Dec and then parliament convened in an emergency session and passed legislation to do away with the reliefs and holidays like the economy was now full throttle. I can’t believe Kenyans queue for hours to elect these fellows.

And finally the ministry of education is an example of how incompetent this government is. Schools were closed last year before the end of term one because of covid. One would think because of the requirements for keeping people apart, more classrooms would be built or more teachers employed but lo and behold, we are busy campaigning on whether we should alter the constitution that is not even an adolescent yet.

I am convinced that politicians serve their interests. That the state exist for the benefit of the few. And the rest of us must find ways to get along in the process.

Today is Mashujaa Day

Where we celebrate our mashujaas or as others would say heroes. And for a long time these heroes have been famous people or those connected to someone high up and they get head of state commendation and all.

The real heroes however are those street sweepers, nurses, teachers, drivers, farmers whose disparate actions keep us alive. These heroes whose stories don’t get to be told because their work is considered ordinary make the biggest difference in our lives. But I go ahead of myself.

This day used to be called kenyatta day. It’s starting from the night of 19th to several days that the leaders of KAU were arrested. On 20th October 1952 the colonial administration declared a state of emergency that would last 8 years. In naming the day kenyatta day, prominence was given to one person who wasn’t even pivotal in the struggle at that point in time & generations of school children still learn this lopsided view of history.

So today we celebrate all the heroes. The house girls/boys, the flower girls, the gardeners & all those whose ordinary work make extraordinary contributions to our lives.

Don’t lend your support to crooks

In this Stoic meditation Massimo Pigliucci offers caution not to support leaders who drag their offices to the mud. I think he needs a session with out government. I am not sure whether there is any low they can go beyond where they have reached. But I am reminded that incompetent people are never short of surprises. When you think they can’t surprise you further, they outdo their last incompetence with something even worse.

And maybe Carl Sagan was right about politicians.

The words of Castro in History will Absolve me, can be used to refer to the present regime in Kenya. He said, in part

The previous regime was guilty of petty politics, theft, pillage and disrespect for human life; but the present regime increased political skulduggery fivefold, pillage tenfold, and has increased a hundredfold the lack of respect for human life.

The graft is mind boggling. The incompetence is beyond speech. Extrajudicial killings, demolitions and evictions the less said the better. And I am just beginning. And the same fellows are lined up to be in the next regime. How can a whole country be so collectively duped to elect thieves, idiots but I repeat myself.

In the same essay/ defense, he notes, of the Batista regime but which seems to be a mirror copy of the Uhuru/ Ruto regime

His regime brought merely a change of hands and a redistribution of the loot among a new collection of friends, relatives, accomplices and parasitical dregs that constitute the political retinue of a dictator.

Have you a warm day, will you.