Mau Mau and Nationhood

In political debates in Kenya, the refrain from a section of the polity are fond of remarking that only the Kikuyu fought for independence and remind the rest of us that without Mau Mau, there would be no independence or it would have happened much later than it did.  While I don’t want to cast aspersions on how knowledgeable about the history of our independence these people are, I will say they are mostly common folk who repeat what they have heard without ever bothering to do any digging.

Mau Mau and Nationhood is my current read. It’s a collection of articles by eminent scholars, and I don’t use that word carelessly.

Some time back I wrote this summary on the same subject and continuing with the same line of thought, I will just pose a few more questions that I find interesting.

  • Has there been a country where all the masses rose as one to fight the colonizing party? Why not? Why does a section of the polity not join in the fight?
  • Since we are told without the Mau Mau, there would be no independence, we can ask how many Europeans did they kill?
  • Kenyatta said we all fought for independence. Who, then, do we celebrate on the 20th?
  • was Kenyatta and Mau Mau concerned with the national project and was Mau Mau the only militant group?
  • Why did Mau Mau activists kill Ofafa?
  • Was Harry Thuku a collaborator or an independence hero?
  • There are those who argue that the national project, if it ever was there, ended with the assassination of Mboya. Is this really the case or did end it much earlier?
  • Why is there little talk of the Oromo people’s resistance?
  • Or why has no one ever mentioned to me the Somali-Galla line (PDF) and the Kittermaster line (separating the Samburu grazing lands of the Leroghi plateau from the larger Laikipia plateau, which had been reserved for white settlers)
  • Or why is there is little talk of Maasai nationalism with its headquarters in Sanya Chini, Tanzania?
  • what were the debates going on in the forest? how were the issues of gender, marriage, religion and violence dealt with?

Nation building makes for interesting history. Earnest Renan argued for forgetting the past and forging a new unified history, what is generally called, imagined histories. Others have argued differently. So here we are, trying to understand the early days of the nation called Kenya. What were the discussions taking place and where were these discussions? What form was the nation to take?

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History repeats itself

first as farce, then as tragedy

I don’t want to be accused of impugning the reputation of the president and deputy president of Kenya by claiming they read anything beyond how to steal our money and security briefs on who was killed where by their security organs. Or which sector can they stuff or is it staff with their minions. Talking of which, I have never heard any of them cite any work. Nada. Nor have I heard them say anything that is worth quoting and no, I am not talking of silly things like mnataka nifanye nini or Ruto wept or security starts with you. 

In 1875, Engels, in an essay titled On social relations in Russia, wrote, and I will quote it extensively because it almost applies word for word for our situation in Kenya.

It is clear that the condition of the Russian peasants since the emancipation from serfdom, has  become intolerable and cannot be maintained much longer, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, a revolution is in the offing in Russia … Her financial affairs are in extreme disorder. Taxes cannot be screwed any higher, the interest on old state loans is paid by means of new loans, and every new loan meets with greater difficulties; money can now be raised only on the pretext of building railways! The administration, corrupt from top to bottom … The entire agricultural production … completely dislocated by the redemption settlement of 1861 … The whole held together with great difficulty and only outwardly by an Oriental despotism the arbitrariness of which we in the West simply cannot imagine; a despotism that, from day to day, not only comes into more glaring contradiction with the views of the enlightened classes and, in particular, with those of the rapidly developing bourgeoisie of the capital, but, in the person of its present bearer, has lost its head, one day making concessions to liberalism and the next, frightened, cancelling them again and thus bringing itself more and more into disrepute. With all that, a growing recognition among the enlightened strata of the nation concentrated in the capital that this position is untenable, that a revolution is impending, and the illusion that it will be possible to guide this revolution along a smooth, constitutional channel. Here all the conditions of a revolution are combined, of a revolution that, started by the upper classes of the capital, perhaps even by the government itself, must be rapidly carried further, beyond the first constitutional phase, by the peasants; of a revolution that will be of the greatest importance for the whole of Europe, if only because it will destroy at one blow the last, so far intact, reserve of the entire European reaction. This revolution is surely approaching.

If I were to rewrite the above quote to reflect what is going on in Kenya, it would read something like this

It is clear that the condition of the Kenyan worker (citizen) since the emancipation from colonial rule, has  become intolerable and cannot be maintained much longer, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, a revolution is in the offing in Kenya … Her financial affairs are in extreme disorder. Taxes cannot be screwed any higher, the interest on old state loans is paid by means of new loans, and every new loan meets with greater difficulties; money can now be raised only on the pretext of building railways! The administration, corrupt from top to bottom … The entire agricultural production … completely dislocated by the redemption settlement of 1963… The whole held together with great difficulty and only outwardly by an Oriental despotism the arbitrariness of which we in the West simply cannot imagine; a despotism that, from day to day, not only comes into more glaring contradiction with the views of the enlightened classes and, in particular, with those of the rapidly developing bourgeoisie of the capital, but, in the person of its present bearer, has lost its head, one day making concessions to liberalism and the next, frightened, cancelling them again and thus bringing itself more and more into disrepute. With all that, a growing recognition among the enlightened strata of the nation concentrated in the capital that this position is untenable, that a revolution is impending, and the illusion that it will be possible to guide this revolution along a smooth, constitutional channel. Here all the conditions of a revolution are combined, of a revolution that, started by the upper classes of the capital, perhaps even by the government itself, must be rapidly carried further, beyond the first constitutional phase, by the peasants; of a revolution that will be of the greatest importance for the whole of Africa, if only because it will destroy at one blow the last, so far intact, reserve of the entire African reaction. This revolution is surely approaching.

That, my friends is the state of the republic as it currently stands and as I have said, our leaders don’t read. It is likely they will progress with their heads buried in the sand while giving us the one finger salute.

 

Politicians and the church in Kenya

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

There is a storm brewing in my backyard, but it is all smokes and mirrors.

For some time now, churches have always invited politicians, including the dee pee,  and the well to do in the community to their fundraising activities. You all know god wants money. So one would ask, why is there trouble? One, the dee pee question (if you know, you know). Reports show he has been too generous leading many people to question the source of his wealth. Well, we generally have an idea but we would want to hear him say it.

Why is the storm all smokes and mirrors? A section of the church goers are complaining that politicians have taken over their pulpits. But this is a half truth or just a plain lie. Churches, clergy and the general population in most events treat politicians as demigods. They get deferential treatment at gatherings and are usually offered opportunity to speak wherever. In church, you have a captive audience and any politician would use such an occasion to push his agenda.

After receiving millions of shillings from politicians and other bureaucrats, clergy and their sheeple have now developed a conscience and do not want this money. Well, not happening. The good archbishop of the ACK church has said they want the money, but please be quiet about it. A cross-section of the population have however interpreted this to mean the good bishop is saying no to politicians and any stolen money. One would think only politicians are guilty of sleaze, but this is not true.

My fellow countrymen and women should stop being hypocrites. We all know god wants money. And wants a lot of it. For what I don’t know. Out of 175 countries ranked, Kenya is ranked 144. And it is not the case that only the political class is driving this corruption. We all are. And last I checked, the world factbook gives this break down of religious affiliation Christian 83% (Protestant 47.7%, Catholic 23.4%, other Christian 11.9%), Muslim 11.2%, Traditionalists 1.7%, other 1.6%, none 2.4%, and unspecified at 0.2% of the population, as estimated in 2009, which can only be translated that it is driven by religious people. They make the majority. So why pretend that you don’t want dirty money in your churches?

I say. let the religious people stop pretending they have developed some spine. Moi always went to a church, was thought of as one of the most religious people in Ke but presided over plunder, unsolved murders and so on. Kibaki no different. Muigai and Ruto are all Christians but have presided over plunder of a nation not seen before in this country since the beginning of self-rule. Well, maybe not as much as Kamau wa Ngengi grabbed land. Just keep inviting the politicians to your churches, we understand your gods/ parsons want money,  and the politicians want a captive audience, which the church provides. It is win- win. God/ parsons get money. The politician gets a captive audience.

End of Thursday sermon.

on the housing levy

by the thieving UhuRuto government.

Housing can be looked at as a process and a product. And there are local and international instruments that underscore the right to housing as a fundamental right. For example Article 43 (1)b of the Constitution of Kenya provides specifically that every Kenyan has a right to accessible and adequate housing, and to reasonable standards of sanitation.

There are philosophies around housing provision viz: welfare (social housing) approach and market approach.

Habitat for Humanity notes the housing deficit in Kenya stands at 2 million and continues to grow at a rate of 200K per year.

Now that you know what housing is (this is where you say thank you Mak) and what the law says. The drafters of the constitution added this section

Article 21 (2) states The State shall take legislative, policy and other measures, including the setting of standards, to achieve the progressive realisation of the rights guaranteed under Article 43.

and while I am no lawyer, it is my belief that the government is riding on this provision to implement a housing levy in the pretext of financing housing ( I have learnt this is not the case. The stupid people in government are relying on HousingAct17of1953 (1) (pdf)! in developing these regulations). In the context of (local) economic development, this levy would be viewed as a method of capital formation. But having said so, I think it would only make sense if the government reduced massive leaks through corruption, was transparent in how it spends our money, reduced its expenditure among others. Short of the above, it does seem this government is only keen in increasing the money available to be stolen.

My countrymen and women are not amused especially if one were to check the #resisthousingfundlevy which, yours truly believes, is a flopped resistance.

But I digress.

We, the tax payers have genuine reasons to protest this levy. And it should not be construed by those in government or their mouthpieces that we have abandoned our right to adequate housing, far from it. There is good reason that this state capture by the Kenyatta family enterprise. If a government were to win a trophy for sleaze, this regime would take first place and first runners-up. It has made promises from irrigation to school laptops and failed miserably at it. It promised to house police in decent housing and has failed to do so. It is inconceivable that in the two years it has left in office that it could build 500K units. My professor makes the following observations and here where he argues among other things that the regulations are not properly thought out.

In my view, given the current economic circumstances many working people find themselves in as a result of the bad policies and habits of this government, this levy is an ill-conceived idea that should not have been left to see the light of day. While public participation in required by law, our government does not take a robust approach to meeting this requirement. It is not lost to us that the ICC duo treat the citizens with disdain and not surprising that government approach to the citizens is that of antagonism, and threats of violence.

It is time we collectively rise and send them home. We cannot be slaves to the constitution in the face of despotism waiting for the term of the government to collapse to try to do something. The time to do anything is now.

how long will we survive this government?

As I have said elsewhere, the worst that can happen to a collective, say, a nation-state is to have leaders who are incompetent, clueless, murderous and rent seeking. The Jubilee administration is all the above and worse. It’s a government whose officials have taken a vow to plunder the country till it goes bust.

How, for example, do you explain aviation fuel with 5 million dollars disappearing into thin air? And that is the least of their crimes. We cannot tell the extent of the grand larceny that is taking place within this government. It will take ages and a different regime to uncover the theft that these thieves have gotten away with since 2013, though this, too, is only a dream. The same wolves are busy positioning themselves to stay at the helm to either continue stealing or to make sure they are not prosecuted or both.

In this day, we have our countrymen and women dying from starvation while those responsible are busy stealing public funds. To imagine people in Baringo, from where Moi, who ruled for 24 years die of hunger is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of our leaders. How bereft of ideas they are and of course, how useless.

As Ndii has opined, I think the level of graft, no, theft this government has committed against is qualifies to be called crimes against humanity.

Maybe, this post that I wrote a while ago is still relevant.

Customer service week rant

This week has been customer service week in this godforsaken country of ours. And it is this week that the company that provides me with voice and data services-Airtel saw it fit to steal my airtime.

I would move to their competition- Safaricom but the word on the street is they have grown to be a giant by stealing from their subscribers. So I will for the time being stick with Airtel who are learning to steal than go to the giant thief.

If however some genius can come up with a way to communicate that does not involve these giants and is not smoke signals or banana fibre, call me.

Postscript: they have finally corrected the anomaly

The politics of food

Continuing from where we left yesterday, it is interesting to note that the settlers sought protection from the colonial government against the African peasants. In Siaya, we read

[ ]The new market position these farmers achieved in the 20s and early 1930s was feared by the European settlers in Kenya, who sought the protection provided by stiff competition and marketing regulations to maintain their domination of these markets.

Free market anyone?