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.

Nairobi- Meru- Nanyuki bike tour

This was a 300km bike tour. On day 1, we covered 225km and decided that was enough work and found ourselves a good place to sleep and relax the muscles. After being on the saddle for close to 10hrs, my butt felt like a fire had been lit below it.

But I go ahead of myself. This trip has been in the oven since February when we (with others not in the present tour) attempted this ride and yours truly abandoned the ride 160+km in. I wasn’t giving up this time round. The many runs and practice rides paid off.

Keep it here for the next tour. Hopefully I will get a sponsor for a GoPro camera which will mean you have longer videos of the tours.

 

I am here thinking

That maybe we here in Africa & especially here in Kenya have got our priorities around this pandemic wrong.

Think of it this way. Since the first case was announced almost a month ago, 14 people are said to have died of the virus. In that time more people have been killed by police enforcing the curfew, mudslides, malaria & starvation among other deaths we deal with on a daily basis.

In the meantime, we have brought some businesses to a halt & I am sure as is common to this regime, we have created a few millionaires through no hard work on their part but sleaze.

By closing schools and colleges, we have cost school going children to lose time, endangered many others for whom school provides a safe haven, even if just for a brief moment.

Well, I guess social distancing measures work. I have seen vids about the Spanish flu of years past & how different cities faired. Maybe medics are right that this disease is different from the viruses we already know & we should stay at home for the time being, at least.

I want to know how some places have only 1 case since they announced their first case. Was that the only testing kit they had? Or did they find this patient zero before they came into contact with any other person?

I guess I am tired of these restrictions. It’s not really that I want to go anywhere specific. No. If you have watched the movie Sarafina, there is this scene Ms Masombuga says all she wants is freedom. That’s all I want. To move when I want to. I hate masks.

I just want all this to end. That’s all.


Click on the file above to see data for any country you have in mind.

 

Right of reply

Julian Kamau has written a letter to us privileged Kenyans to check our privilege. For clarity, you are privileged if

You have stocked your fridge with food to last you a month during this coronavirus period, you have stocked your pantry with dry foods to last you a week or a month, you are working from home with a laptop, you own a car (s), use a taxi or are picked from home and dropped by the office car, you live in a gated community or have 24-hour security at your home, your biggest worry right now is inconsistent internet or the disrupted power meaning you won’t watch your favorite series on Netflix, Showmax or DSTV.

Why is Julian so irked by this class of Kenyans? She thinks we believe

The Kenyans you see being brutally beaten by the police on the streets are not lazy, ignorant or difficult.

which leaves me asking where did she get this idea from? Is she projecting her feelings on the rest of the privileged class as she calls it? For one, I think our cops and those who lead them need a course on humanness. More importantly, they need mass brain transplants. They collectively as a group have no brains. Or maybe, Nietzsche was right, in mobs, insanity or madness is the norm not the exception. Kenyans know their government is violent. That there is little difference between the colonial and post colonial regimes is evident to anyone who bothers to check. Violence is always an order away. Dialogue is not an option. In fact all the opportunities are closed once an order to use force is issued.

Instead of throwing aspersions at the privileged class, we should question the government’s logic of leaving out taxis, public transport vehicles out of essential service providers? How are people to go home? On the one hand, these buses and vans have to operate at below 60% capacity, how are people to go home? Further, the government asked factories to operate in shifts, how will employees get to work? Employers, why not shorten your work hours so people can go home early and not be afoul of the law?

I respect the non-privileged class so much to believe they can speak for themselves. I also believe they are capable of assessing their situation and deciding how best to proceed. Let’s not make victims of people who don’t consider themselves victims. Our lives are intertwined & a lockdown would affect many of us negatively. I am an architect & my income depends on people being able to invest & construct. So while according to Julian I am a very privileged Kenyan, I am alive to the challenges of the casual worker in a construction site. If I close my sites completely, I consign them to starvation.

So I disagree with Julian where she writes

You must first know that you are privileged then use that position to speak for the less privileged in society or just keep your mouth shut.

because I think even the poor or less privileged can speak for themselves. Why appoint yourself their speaker and push them further away from where they can be heard? In fact, in these times, it is not just the less privileged who need to be heard, but everyone whose livelihood is on the line. That hotel employee, that bar waiter, the hotel owner, airline employee, and anyone else adversely affected by the continued restrictions on movement.

I find this accusation

Unlike you, coronavirus is just one of their problems but it’s the least of their problems. I know this might be too complex for you to comprehend

far fetched and unjustified. Many Kenyans privileged and non privileged alike understand how precocious our stations in life are. One is always a sickness away from poverty. I don’t know about Julian, but many of us belong to extended families with people in different stations or classes that only those blinded by fortune would be unaware of the problems of the lower classes.

But I agree with her that calls for total lockdown are ill advised without a commensurate solution to their daily needs. You cannot tell a person who is paid only on days worked to stay home to look at the roof and not provide for their basic needs. This corrupt government I am almost certain doesn’t have the means, the capacity or even the will to help the urban poor. If an allocation were to be made to help them, their numbers would be inflated & a handful of people will have a windfall.

So maybe, it is Julian who should know that the privileged Kenyan is not stupid. They are aware of what a lockdown would imply to their lives and everyone around them.

To my fellow countrymen and women

First I will start by saying majority of the voting public is insane irrational. In 2013, I wrote an open letter to those who can read imploring you it would have been much better to vote in a dead cow than the duo running for president at that time. Kenyans, millions of them, thinking they were defying the ICC and other western governments overwhelmingly voted for the Uhuruto duo and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Mutunga Supreme Court gave them a shot of legitimacy by validating their win and so we got stuck with an incompetent, corrupt and irresponsible duo.

Again in 2017, a good proportion of the public having seen the mega corruption scandals, ineptitude, the claw back on basic freedoms and rights, decided that the duo were the best placed to rule this country and on 26th of October voted overwhelmingly in an election where only one candidate was running to give him a birthday present. Fools will do what fools do.

2020 is here with us. It is not the best of times. It will take Covid19 to show the weak underbelly of this regime. It has been said by others more eloquent and brave than I that Uhuruto are incompetent, corrupt, irresponsible and illiberal. At this time of crisis, these four things will come to the fore. You remember the Afya House scandal involving medical equipment running to billions of shillings. The dams scandal. Eurobond. SGR. All these are coming to bite now. The government of incompetents will not be capable of pulling together the right talent to steer the country out of this mess because the only people who are willing to work with the duo are thieves. Or potential thieves.

Having no safety nets and a broke treasury means those Kenyans who will lose their jobs have nowhere to go. The impact of that on law and order I leave to sociologists to address. A corrupt government means that even if money were made available it would not reach those most in need. In short, we are fucked and as has been said so many times before, choices have consequences.

As we sit at home to ponder our next moves, maybe it is also time we reconsider our choices for representatives. It may go along way to making the difference between life and death.

I leave you with this passionate letter from V to us all.