This is a case of bad journalism

When these two insist the Country has gone to the dogs because the church, which apparently is the custodian of morality, is sleeping on the job. Can you imagine that! The population census show that the country has a religious population of more than 98%. Are they just nominally religious? I thought it is the people that make the church?

All dead men are good

Because rarely is a bad thing said about the dead.

Our second president is dead and will be lying in state from today (Saturday) to Tuesday at parliament buildings for the public to view his body & pay their final respects. We will have a holiday next week to mourn.

Now tributes have been pouring from left right and left about how great the man was. I will be the first one to say with Theognis of Megara that no man is wholly bad nor wholly good and the same is true of Moi. But man, the things the man did! The need to cut down presidential powers arose from his misdeeds. In fact one Kiraitu Murungi said in the past before the new constitution was enacted into law that the concern was to remove Moi from office.  I can actually say in passing that some of the loudest civil society people kept quiet when Moi left. They don’t see human rights violations in this regime. They didn’t see in the previous Kibaki regime. But I digress.

Many remember Moi for the school milk porgram. He also saw to the collapse of the economy. With Pattni and others they created the Goldenberg scandal that saw the country lose billions of shillings. He killed Ouko. He detained many others while being touted as the number one peacemaker. Excised our forests while being touted as the number one conservationist. In fact, I can’t recall what he wasn’t number one at. Brought down parastatals. Entrenched nepotism and mediocrity in government by filling positions of influence with idiots.

When I hear people talk of karma, I want to beat them up. This old man who ruled the country with an iron fist, probably looted billions of shillings and stashed in overseas holdings, grabbed land, killed others has lived to a ripe age of 95 (could be more). He will receive state honours. He didn’t have to spend a day in court to answer to any of the human rights abuses under his 24 year rule. And it seems all his victims have forgiven him. Maybe it’s a good thing to be old. Who knows.

Any way, as someone said elsewhere, let bygones be bygones.

Fare thee well.


After I finished the above post, someone shared with me the post below allegedly written by Oduor Ongwen

There has been an outpouring of love, adoration and canonisation of former President Daniel arap Moi since the announcement of his death yesterday. I don’t begrudge those trying to sanitise the departed former president and portray him as a saint. They have every right to do so because that is how they knew him. In their tributes, many have described Moi as “the best leader this country ever produced.” The Moi I knew doesn’t fit this description. In African traditions, it is unacceptable to talk ill of the dead – more so if the deceased was an elder. So, I will seek to not to condemn him but to describe the man as I knew him and let history do the judgement. Those who have acknowledged that the departed former president was not a paragon of virtue have averred Moi was a good man and a democrat until the abortive coup of August 1982 and his oppressive mien emerged as a reaction to the putsch. That is the narrative I seek to debunk.

Those without memory lapses will recall that even before ascending to presidency, Moi was part of political assassinations and/or cover-ups of the same. In March 1975 when JM Kariuki was reported missing and before his body was discovered disfigured and dumped at the City Mortuary, the then-Vice President Moi without batting an eyelid told Parliament that JM was alive and on a business trip to Zambia. It later transpired that very senior people in government – especially the police – were responsible to for the legislator’s execution and attempts at concealment. Moi lied to Kenya with a straight face.

On ascending to power in 1978, Moi sought to either kill or neuter any potential institutional challenge to his autocratic rule, however modest. Barely a year into his presidency, he in 1979 banned student union – the Nairobi University Students Organisation (NUSO) – and expelled the entire leadership comprising among others Rumba Kinuthia, Otieno Kajwang’, Mukhisa Kituyi, Josiah Omotto and Wafula Siakama. This was followed in quick succession by the proscription of University Staff Union (UASU) and the Kenya Union of Civil Servants in 1980. Simultaneously, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) and Maendeleo ya Wanawake were coopted and later made affiliates of Kanu, the only political party.

As if the killing of these institutions was not enough, Moi went ahead to politically harass individuals that were seen as posing real or perceived threat. In August 1980, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o was arrested twice in a move clearly aimed at intimidating the dons that had been at core of UASU leadership. Others subjected to routine harassment were Oki Ooko-Ombaka, Micere Mugo, Mukaru Ng’ang’a, Katama Mkangi and Shadrack Gutto. In May 1981, Moi ordered the expulsion of another lot of student leaders seeking to revive the student union. These included Odindo Opiata, Makau Mutua, Saulo Busolo, George Rubik, Dave Anyona and John Munuve among others. As this happened, Moi closed the university for close to five months and for the first time in the history of the university, we were ordered to report to chiefs on a weekly basis. Despotism had become a hallmark of Moi’s rule.

Parallel to this, and riding the populist crest of fighting tribalism, Moi banned socio-cultural organisations like the Gikuyu Embu Meru Association (GEMA), the New Akamba Union, Luo Union and others.

In May 1982, Jaramogi had made a widely publicized visit to the United Kingdom, where he addressed the British House of Commons, among other engagements. Jaramogi’s address was on “The Role of political Parties in Africa.” A firm believer in the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy, Jaramogi had fought all his adult life to institute and nurture the same in Kenya. This had put him on a permanent collision course with the colonial government (who ironically were practicing the same in their metropolis but subverting efforts to institute it in their colonies) and post-independence oligarchs. Jaramogi’s lecture received very positive coverage in the British press. The Kenyan print media took the cue from the British press but largely ignored the entire content of the address, only reporting that Jaramogi had announced his intention to launch a new political party to challenge KANU’s stranglehold on power.
On May 26, 1982, the Governing Council of the ruling party (composed of 12 members) instructed parliament, the Attorney General Joseph Kamere and Minister for Constitutional Affairs Charles Njonjo to prepare a bill amending the constitution such that Kenya would by law become a one-party state. The resulting bill also proposed to create a new office of the Chief Secretary to serve as head of the public service. On June 9, 1982, after less than one hour of debate, Parliament of 170 members voted 168 to 2 in favour of the amendment.

Between May and June 1982, Moi ordered a crackdown targeting university lecturers, This resulted in detention without trial of Kamoji Wachiira, Edward Oyugi, Mukaru Ng’ang’a and Al Amin Mazrui. Maina wa Kinyatti and Willy Mutunga were charged with trumped up sedition offences. Mutunga’s charges were later withdrawn as he was also detained. Kinyatti was later, on October 18, 1982, sentenced to six years in jail. Others like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Micere, Nyong’o, Gutto and Kimani Gicau had to flee the country into exile. In this crackdown, scribes were not spared. In apparent reaction to his audacity to stand against “Nyayo candidate” in a Nyeri Town parliamentary by election occasioned by the jailing of ex-freedom fighter Waruru Kanja for “violating foreign exchange laws,” journalist Wang’ondu Kariuki was charged with “possession of seditious publication” called Pambana and jailed for four-and-a half years. It is worth noting that by this time, the tyranny had become so entrenched that the despot had detained even the Deputy Director of Intelligence, Stephen Muriithi. It was at the height of this repression that junior cadres of the Kenya Air Force staged a poorly organized and executed coup. So, the coup was a consequence of Moi’s tyranny – not the converse.

The coup provided Moi with the opportunity and excuse to intensify crack down on lawyers, authors, activists, scientists, and (especially) university lecturers and students perceived to be critical of his authoritarian rule. I was among the more than 70 students arrested and detained at the GSU Training School, Embakasi. Having been held for two months incommunicado, 67 of us were eventually charged with “Sedition.” We were released six months later when the state could not manufacture evidence to convict us. But six amongst us – Jeff Mwangi, Tom Mutuse, Ong’ele Opalla, Wahinya Boore, Ephantus Kinyua and Kituyi Simiyu – were convicted sentenced to jail term of six years each. Raila Odinga, Prof. Otieno Osanya and Otieno Mak’Onyango who had been charged with treason also had their charges dropped as they were detained without trial.

More than the foregoing, the attempted coup provided Moi with an arsenal to settle old scores and assert himself by systematically instituting an oppressive one-man state through consolidation, centralisation, and personalisation of power while neutralising disloyal elements, real and imagined. In his book, African Successes, David Leonard notes that the coup attempt was “a piece of good luck” for Moi. The attempt legitimized Moi’s reorganisation of the command structure of the armed forces and the police. Once the attempt had been made and suppressed, he was able to remove leaders from positions that were most threatening. The armed forces and the police “were neutralised”.

Ben Gethi, the Commissioner of Police, for instance, was detained at Kamiti and later retired “in public interest”. Moi also eliminated Kikuyu and Luo officers from the military and put in Kalenjin and non-ethnic challengers. For instance, he named General Mahmoud Mohammed — an ethnic Somali — the army chief of general staff.
With the disciplined forces in the hands of handpicked loyalists, the political structure was next. President Moi had a Bill enacted that granted him emergency powers, and the provincial administration and civil service came under the Office of the President, for the first time in post-independence Kenya. In effect, a DC could stop an MP from addressing his constituents.

Next was Parliament, whose privilege to access information from the Office of the President was revoked, thus subordinating it to the presidency. The Legislature could only rubber-stamp — not check — the excesses of the Executive. That is how, in 1986, it imposed limitations on the independence of the Judiciary.

Two expatriate judges — Derek Schofield and Patrick O’Connor — resigned, lamenting that the judicial system was “blatantly contravened by those who are supposed to be its supreme guardians.” Parliament also gave police powers to detain critics of Moi’s authoritarian regime. It did not end there. The freedoms of the press, expression, association, and movement were curtailed. In effect, Kenya became a police state.

President Moi ensured that his presence was felt everywhere; he stared at you from the currency in your wallet and mandatory portraits in every business premise. Streets, schools, a stadium, university, airport, and monuments were named after him. He gobbled half the news time on radio and TV, where he was always the first bulletin item. Ministers wore lapel pins with his photo on them. Indeed, one Cabinet minister in the Moi government was said to have had a dozen suits, each with its own pin lapel – just in case he forgot and wore the wrong suit!

Moi was felt in the education system, in which students recited a loyalty pledge, learnt about the Nyayo philosophy in GHC, and drank Nyayo milk. In the remotest parts of the country, the local chief was the president’s eyes and ears.

Kanu replaced the secret ballot with a system where voters lined up behind candidates in 1986. Parliamentary candidates who secured more than 70 per cent of the votes did not have to go through the process of the secret ballot in the General Election in what was more or less a “selection within an election.”Take the case of Kiambu coffee picker Mukora Muthiora. He “defeated” the late Njenga Karume for the Kanu sub-branch chairmanship. Karume was then a former assistant minister for Cooperative Development. Provincial Commissioner Victor Musoga declared Muthiora the winner, yet he never participated in the election. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

On the morning of March 27, 1986, Moi stopped at the gates of Kipsigis Girls High School where I was a teacher on his way to Kisii Teachers College to preside over a graduation ceremony. He arrived a few minutes to ten o’clock. Perched on the sunroof of his limousine, the President praised the school and told the students how fond of the school he was. He told them that it was due to his love for the school that he had given them big land and dairy cattle. He spotted me and warned that I should not teach subversion. “I have sent you good teachers like the Secretary General here, but he should desist from teaching subversive behavior,” And with those pronouncements, I knew my goose was cooked.

On Monday April 14, 1986 at around 7.00 p.m., I was picked up by the Special Branch after a three-hour search in my house. After 16 days of torture at the basement and 24th Floor of Nyayo House, I was sent to Kamiti maximum Prison for a four-year stint as Moi’s state guest.

Moi’s vindictiveness did not stop at the so-called dissidents. Their kith and kin were also guilty by association. None personifies this than Ida Betty Odinga. A young woman in her thirties with three children, the eldest of whom was barely nine years old, Ida Odinga was thrown into the deep end of the pool of life by Moi’s police state and expected to swim through. This was at a time when Moi had placed her father-in-law, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, under house arrest. When Raila was arrested and falsely charged with treason, she proclaimed her husband’s innocence and went on to seek for him the best legal representation locally and internationally. This struck mortal fear into the face and heart of Raila Odinga’s tormentors. Ida was determined that her husband got justice. The State was bent on perpetrating a sham trial on treason charges then hang Raila. To them this young woman was a nuisance. But they were forced to make a quick retreat. Since they had no evidence to sustain a charge of treason, they had no option but to withdraw the charges and place Raila Odinga in preventive detention. Because she had shown that she could fight for justice, she was no longer just another teacher – a public servant. Because of her association with “an enemy of the State,” Mrs Odinga was now “a person of interest.” Even though she tried to do her best in her job as a teacher at the Kenya High School and bring up her young children as a single mother, the Moi government would use security officers to constantly harass her with a hope of breaking her. She was eventually retired “in the public interest.”

Maina wa Kinyatti, having been jailed on October 18, 1982 and sentenced to six years in jail continued to be tortured in jail by various methods, including being held naked and without food for up to seven days at a time, living with mental patients, subjected to arbitrary anal searches and being beaten with sticks while being forced to do physical exercises. The torture, in different form, was extended to his wife Mumbi. She became a marked person. Her interactions with her students were watched, her shopping analysed and her correspondences intercepted in the post office and read. On April 11, 1987 Mumbi was arrested while attending a Drama Festival in Embu. She was driven back to Nairobi and locked up overnight. In an interview with the New York Times published on April 27, Mumbi said that, during a total of seven hours of questioning, the police accused her of giving money to Mwakenya, organising exiles outside of the country and planning to train members of Mwakenya as guerrilla fighters.

Winnie Muga, was a student at Kenyatta University College at the time her husband, Muga K’Olale was arrested from their house in Umoja Estate. At the time of K’Olale’s arrest, Winnie had just given birth to their firstborn girl the previous week. As they arrested K’Olale, the officers turned their house inside out – throwing nappies around, moving furniture, and even ransacking the cradle. Leaving things strewn on the floor in both their two bedrooms, kitchen and the living room, Special Branch took K’Olale with him. Restoring order in that house was left to this woman that had just given birth a few days earlier. The police chaps did not tell Winnie Muga where they were taking her husband. The young woman was to spend the next four months combing police stations and the Kenya Police headquarters in Nairobi without a clue as to where her husband had been taken. After fifteen agonizing weeks of waiting to know the whereabouts of her husband, Winnie Muga was somehow relieved to know that the husband was alive but at the same time hit by a sentence of ten years in jail slapped on K’Olale after “an own plea” of guilt to a charge of sedition. It was alleged that K’Olale knew about the coup plot and actively participated in its planning and execution.

Koigi wa Wamwere’s wife Nduta, and Koigi’s entire family had to endure intimidation and harassment by police on numerous occasions. Nduta eventually left Kenya in 1988 to join her husband who had fled Kenya after detention and was now living in exile in Norway. Koigi’s mother, Monica Wangu Wamwere, had her house surrounded and searched by the police on several occasions and demolished twice. In January 1995, the police once again surrounded Monica Wangu’s home while a service was being held there in memory of her husband, who had died a year earlier. She had refused to bury her husband until her two sons were allowed out of prison to attend his funeral.
Josephine Nyawira Ngengi, sister of G.G. Njuguna Ngengi who was on trial with Koigi, was arrested in May 1994 in Nakuru. She had been actively involved in the campaign for the release of political prisoners incarcerated by Moi and participated in the Mothers’ hunger strike in 1992. Nyawira was held incommunicado for 22 days before being charged with robbery with violence, which carries the death penalty. Two other women, Ann Wambui Ng’ang’a and Tabitha Mumbi, and 16 men were charged with the same offense. All the three women complained that they were tortured while in police custody. Nyawira stated that she was beaten and that blunt objects were forced into her genitalia until she bled. As other people canonize Moi and talk of his legacy, this is the Moi I knew. To rephrase Mark Anthony in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, The evil that men do lives after them;The good is oft interred with their bones;So let it be Moi.

Nairobi, February 5, 2020

How to know you are in a cult.

For those of you who read news, you might have heard or read about a serious locust invasion in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The last time such a thing occurred in such magnitude was 70 years ago and as I told Modarnicus, those in higher echelons of power have just been talking. For example, here is the former cabinet secretary for agriculture telling Kenyans to take photos for verification.

With that introduction, we come to the juicy part of this post and it is supplied by Cedric who tweeted thus

https://twitter.com/CedricAnami/status/1221861212692021248?s=20

and I wonder how he buttons his shirts! He is telling other sheep to worship not the imaginary god, but the mighty profit of the imaginary god. I think I should move to another country.

I hope to all that is unholy that this is satire.

 

Against demolitions

The government of Kenya and many of its agencies have been demolishing houses they claim were built on reserves or on public land. Others to be brought down, they claim were built sans the requisite approvals.

It takes anything from 90 to 180 days to get a development approval from the Nairobi City government. Who has all the time to wait for a government unable to act in its best interest? If I put up a development without necessary approvals after making an application for the same, I don’t think it is right to demolish my structure. It makes no sense. There should be cures such regularisation and some other measures.

Suppose someone has built on public land, I think demolition is again madness. Acquire the building & use it for the purposes that land was allocated, if this is possible or put it up for public use. Those who build on road reserves, school land, hospital land, these I have little sympathy.

Finally, there are buildings on riparian areas. If a plot of land abuts a river, lake or ocean, I think one should build in a such a manner that they don’t grossly affect the micro-ecosystem. Their structures should not block access for members of the public to such commons.

Government agencies, developers and other stakeholders directly affected by these developments should have consultative meetings before development takes place to sort out any possible planning challenges than to wait until later then demolish buildings in the wee hours of the morning or night as the case may be.

Peculiar Kenyan traits

Now if you read the news or the interwebs, you have likely seen that we are a nation of many peculiarities. I will not name any others, that I live for you to find out. One that is peculiar is our greeting habits. You could be sitting at a place thinking about who you should rob next when out of nowhere someone stretches their hands in your face to greet you as they sit next to you. No. It is not that I don’t like to be greeted, that’s not it. I just don’t like strangers greeting me especially when that is the end of the engagement.

In other news why do the programmers at WordPress think we appreciate some of the changed they make to the blogging site? Could they try public participation by sending questionnaires for us to respond to?

Have a peculiar Sunday all of you.

A case of poor journalism

In the crazy Monday section of the Monday standard, Duya Owuor has a full page splash entitled Black Magic: Even urbane Kenyans now believe in witchcraft, a piece one would expect would be accompanied with a history of belief in witchcraft and at the bare minimum an indication as to the time period where Kenyans in specific and Africans in general abandoned their beliefs in witchcraft.

The article starts thus

There is perception that only the poor, the less educated, non believers and villagers consult witch doctors, or at least, believe in witchcraft. But as it turns out, educated, spiritual and urbane Kenyans now embrace too.

which if you ask me is such an outlandish claim. It is ridiculous to claim that a non believer embraces witchcraft unless of course ones non belief is not understood.  The other most outlandish claim with this opening salvo is the one claim about educated Kenyans now embracing witchcraft. And one must ask when did they not? I do understand newspapers must make sales but such an article should be in the gutter press.

Owuor writes in the same piece that there are vegetable sellers who use water from the morgue to wash their wares. This is something that would border on the criminal. Why would any morgue attendant sell water they have used to wash corpses to anyone? Is this not a public health issue that would warrant investigation? Our journalist presents it as a matter of course.

He doesn’t stop there. He tells us people use juju to protect their jobs and gives this as the reason why women will never allow you to peak into their handbags. All along I thought it was about privacy. Those handbags carry their private belongings which they don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry peeping into. I make it a point to leave women’s bags alone same way I don’t want peeping Toms in my wallet. But to Owuor, it is about witchcraft.

And what, if I may ask, are witchcraft paraphernalia? At what point do they differ from totems? Or even a rosary bead? Isn’t the expectation the same? That by wearing the rosary or having holy water (sic), one is protected from evil intentions. Is this not any different from keeping a totem in the hope that someone with intentions that are otherwise not good would not succeed?

In a country where politicians are among some of the highest paid workers, it is expected, if they visit witch doctors, they are likely to pay more. This, I think, should go without saying. Owuor however doesn’t give us any reasons to support his claim that witch doctors reap big from politicians. He tells us an MP who drowned was found with Ksh. 270,000 ($2,700) and witchcraft related paraphernalia. How does one conclude that this money was meant for a witch doctor? If this is not sloppy or sensationalist journalism, I don’t know what is.

Owuor referring to a case pitting former MP Musikari Kombo against IEBC and others where he had been accused and found guilty of administering traditional oaths to bind and instill fear in voters to elect him which while being a very interesting case lacks context. First on oathing (especially in this country both during and post colonial eras) and state formation.

It’s been said (too lazy to get the references) that the African christian has their feet on two sides; one side in Christianity and the other in tradition. In the event the Kenyan African is faced with a dilemma that the christian beliefs are not equipped to address, they turn immediately to tradition and this involves consulting traditional doctors/ witch doctors or diviners- whatever one wants to call them. It is therefore not strange that some urbane individual will consult a witch doctor.

Or maybe, crazy Monday is not meant to have any material of journalist rigor in which case I apologize to Owuor for being very critical of his piece.

For further reading, please look at the following links

Believe it or not: Witchcraft in Kenya

The Impact of Magic and Witchcraft in the Social, Economic, Political and Spiritual Life of African Communities (pdf)

‘GOING BUSH’: BLACK MAGIC, WHITE AMBIVALENCEAND BOUNDARIES OF BELIEF IN POSTCOLONIALKENYA (pdf)

CONFLICTING CODES AND CONTESTED JUSTICE: WITCHCRAFT AND THE STATE IN KENYA (pdf)

The Witches of Baltimore


In the same Monday Standard, professor Munene in an article entitled Mbiti defended African religion, but was not feted wrote

religion and philosophy were Mbiti’s intellectual war fronts. He distinguished himself by asserting that Africans knew God(he must mean the Christian god) and were Christian before the Europeans. Being notoriously religious, Mbiti declared that Africans did everything religiously, whether in the past, present or future.

which I find rather disappointing. Mbiti, an Anglican priest, bastardized African religion. He made unfounded claims about Africans relationship with time among others things. In his magna opus, African Religion and Philosophy, there is little that is philosophical or tied to African religion. One however understands the context in which he was writing. Works by people like Levi Bruhl(?) had even questioned the humanity of the African. While the claim the Africans were Christians before the coming of the Europeans is true with respect to the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia and Coptics in Egypt, their influence was too narrow to be considered in any debate about the spread of Christianity in Africa.

individual African’s religious commitments

There has been a huge debate by others more lettered than yours truly on what constitutes African philosophy and going far as to ask whether such a description is even necessary, arguing for example, that there is no African math or chemistry or physics. You get the drift. I am not going to concern myself with that question here. Anyone interested in the discussions around it can look for works by Wiredi, Masolo, Odera Oruka, Oriare Nyarwath, Alexis Kagame, Lucius Outlaw and many others.

In his book, Sage Philosophy, Odera Oruka interviewed people he considered sages and transcribed their views on many subjects. In this post, I concern myself only with their views on death and god(s).

One saw death as a good because through natural attrition, space is created for others and thus avoiding overpopulation (I wish he read population data- there are more births than deaths p.a, at least in Kenya). He also believed that we are all part of one universal soul that is called god. Further, he says god is one except each people have their own name for god. This sage also said we all speak different languages because if we had one tongue, we would see ourselves superior to god- tower of Babel anyone?

There is, I think, Christian influence in the ideas of this next sage. For example he says about death being good because it is the work of god and further he believes in an afterlife arguing that to die is to be called by god.

Death is the end of man, says our next sage. And it is an evil. He goes so far as to say had we the power to evade death, we would. We try to put off our death through use of medicine and all. God exists as thought and does not have forms (Christians, Judaists and Muslims you have your work set out for you to explain how we are made in the image of god). There is a contradiction however because the same sage argues that god created the sun.

God belongs to the whole world and should not be worshiped everyday or every Friday/Saturday or Sunday as Muslims, Jews and Christians do but should be worshiped occasionally and for special reasons.

God exists because people talk about it. God is one and belongs to all people otherwise we would see discrimination in the distribution of such natural gifts as rain and sunshine (and earthquakes and tsunamis). This mzee’s idea of death is what I loved the most. I will quote

Many people argue that life is good and the better of the two. It is in living that mankind multiplies itself. And as we said earlier on, it is in life that man realizes himself as man. But I think that death is of greater gain. Death is eternal and everlasting in its nature. While life is a short-term process with an inevitable deadline and doomsday, death is a permanent state. In death, there is a completeness of being.

God is one for all people but should be worshiped occasionally when there is need. Peris adds that we each experience and interpret god in our own ways.

Simiyu Chaungo argued that death is neither good not bad. You have no choice on the matter, whether you want it or not, you die. He believed in the existence of a god and further that god could be the sun given that the sun shines its light everywhere. On religions, he said there is just some little truth in them but not much.

Mzee Oruka Rang’inya argued it is quite wrong to personalize god. It is an idea, a useful idea. To him, god represents the idea of goodness itself and to this end, it is useful as a concept. He believed that secularists were not right thinking people for religion had practical utility. Death is like how a farmer thins his maize farm. It gives the younger generation more scope and opportunity to develop themselves. The idea of heaven is fictitious. Upon death, life of man ceases.

To Mzee Kithanje believed there is one god for everyone and that the idea of many religions doesn’t make sense. God is like warmth and cold that brings life. He believed that the sperm of a man was hot and the ovum cold and the fusion of the two brings forth life, so is god.

Ker Mbuya Akoko said the Luo regarded Nyasaye as omnipresent and it is the white people who brought fragmentation into religion by bringing different denominations. He further says the Luo were wrong in thinking their Nyasaye was different from the god of the white people. He argues that their is one god because if there were many gods, there would be chaos resulting from each god pulling in different directions (I think he was not acquainted with Greek mythology).

And lastly Chaungo Barasa on the other hand argued that without man, there would be no god. He sees god as a filler for our ignorance. He says, and I quote

We do not have a particular entity, an external being called god. God then is a substitute for what is beyond mind (ignorance if you like. My emphasis). That is, if man were to pursue and realize the state of intellectual perfection, the mystery of god would be revealed.

I don’t know about you, but I did find the ideas of these men and women quite interesting to say the least. That some of them seem to question the existence of god as a physical being or entirely makes the argument put forth by the Late Canon Mbiti in African Religions and Philosophy that the African is deeply religious and where he is there is religion not entirely true. It would be of great intellectual interest if such interviews were conducted in the rest of Africa though I think we are time barred.

Happy Saturday everyone, free of the gods and fear of death,

a short story or thoughts out of season

Kenya is a multi ethnic society. In the over 57 years of independence, the presidents have come from Kikuyu and Kalenjin ethnic groups. From the way things look, a Kalenjin ( and a thief) seem poised to be the next president of the republic. There is talk in some quarters that this monopoly of the top seat by these two communities doesn’t bode well for the commonwealth and if it continues in this vein, then their might even be secession or civil war whichever is the worst.

This brings me to the discussion I was having with my host in Garowe, Puntland. For those of you who know anything about Somalia, a lot of things- including governance happen at clan level. SO how have they addressed the issue of who becomes president? Easy. There are three main regions- Garowe, Galkayo and I think Nugal ( I wasn’t paying attention at this point). The president serves a 5 year term ( I think). To solve the problem of clan infighting, the position of president rotates within these three groups.

You maybe thinking this process is not democratic. That’s where there is ingenuity. Anyone can vie during the presidential election. I think the good people of Puntland have come to the conclusion anyone can be president so they obey the gentleman’s agreement and elect the president based on a rotational basis to keep the peace and the nation together.

I don’t know how this would work for Kenya or even if it is desired. But I think a fair and transparent election, equitable distribution of resources and a sense of respect to the rule of law would go along way in easing tensions in the country.


In a different story but still in Puntland. They don’t have car insurance. The community is responsible for you. In the event that you were to be involved in an accident, the community elders would be called and decide on the payment. This payment will be collected from all the families with boys. Same thing for bride price.


There is a lock down in Mogadishu and all non essential movement is restricted. So anyone who was expecting me to buy them anything from this beautiful coastal city will have to wait till my next visit.


I got to cycle in Somalia. That was the best experience. Maybe i will do it again the next time I visit.


 

Capital punishment in Kenya

This author has on more than one occasion argued against the death penalty, arguing as others more eloquent and read than I have, that the death of one innocent person outweighs all the benefits to society achieved through the death penalty. There are many places in the world where the death penalty is still in the statute books. There are occasions I have been almost persuaded that having the death penalty is good so there is a way to deal with politicians and the corporate types who collapse banks with people’s savings and the like. I believe, however, that an active volcano would do just fine for this group of miscreants.

But I digress. Capital punishment was introduced in Kenya by the Brits (remember they came to civilize the Africans: sarc) in 1893. While it’s use was not so prevalent in the early days of the colonial state, it got to a crescendo during the emergency years and from what I have read, many Africans were hanged on very flimsy grounds, rules of evidence were swept aside and the conduct of the cases were such that the accused in many cases were not represented. In short, there was miscarriage of justice in the interests of the crown.

It appears also that its application was racially motivated or biased, if the comments of the District Commissioner for Nyeri is to be believed. In 1921, the DC is reported as having said

sometimes i wonder whether in this country, capital punishment is not inflicted on natives more often than is necessary to attain the ends of justice. (Hynd, 2012).

In my conclusion, my other argument for abolishing capital punishment in Kenya is because it is a colonial relic instituted not so much for the interests of justice but law and order.


Hynd S (2012) Toward a History of Violence in Colonial Kenya. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 45 1 pp 88-101