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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Thoughts out of season 3

A few weeks ago, one of my WP friends, wrote a post, what are you worth? 6 million dollars? that is relevant to this discussion and the link that am about to share. As you are all aware, the hostage situation in Nairobi has come to a close and families that lost loved ones will have to rebuild their lives afresh, there are businesses that have incurred serious losses and so much more and I don’t want to belittle their suffering any bit.

However, a few uncomfortable truths have to be dealt with, to see where we have come from and how humanity can move forward, how such situations can be prevented in the future. There are those among us who will argue that the government ought to be granted more surveillance powers, that security searches should increase and other such measures. I disagree totally with such propositions. These measures do not contribute to our safety in the long-term. They are temporary measures that are implemented by unthinking people. The real deal is to ensure that no society feels marginalized, oppressed and denied opportunities for self-expression. Ensuring the masses get proper education is going to ensure that our race frees itself from religious, political and other forms of bigotry.

Having said this, the question to be asked of everyone is why hasn’t there been a similar outcry for the countless and nameless Somali women, men and children who have lost their lives in the duration that the Kenya Defense Forces have been occupying Somali? Are their lives of less value? And in which planet is peace kept by killing civilians? What peace is that? As I have said before, I will say it here again, we have to re-evaluate ourselves as a race, to come up with peaceful and better ways of living with each other.

I have to admit it here, the reason am against all this senseless killing is because of self preservation: The will to live. I, however, know that nature doesn’t give a bat-shit whether I live or die. It maintains the will in the general and not the specific so that there will always be a striving to live whether I exist or not. In the meantime, while I live, I realize there are 1000 plus things trying to kill me and the odd terrorist is the least of them. Why a lot of money is wasted on the war on terror is beyond me.

Nairobi attacks: what about the casualties of Somalia’s war zone?

Thoughts out of season 2

Friends, my countrymen and women are a really a peculiar group of people. I don’t mean to take lightly the ongoing siege that has been on since Saturday at one of our shopping malls, that is not the aim of this post. In this post I want to make a few observations that make us a very peculiar lot. My sincere sympathies and condolence goes out to those who lost their lives, those whose lives have been forever shattered and all those who still find themselves holed up in this mess. I hope that it ends quickly and well for those still held hostage. These are not in any hierarchy:-

1. The belief that their god is somehow in control

There have been enough prayers said on twitter on the last two days than have been said since we went to elections early in the year. What I find really worrying is there are people have heard thanking their god they were not in the mall while we have so many who were either injured or lost their lives, who should they petition? Is it not time they fired their god for allowing this mess to go on for so long. From where I sit, I ask myself a simple question, if these people believe their god is in control, what the fuck is it waiting for and where the hell was s/h/it when these people were planning this attack? Wouldn’t have been prudent to scatter their plans at the planning stage as he seems to have done in Genesis when he scuttled the plans of those who building a bridge to heaven by confounding their language so they couldn’t communicate with one another?

2. Patriotism and unity

Am not a patriot. But my countrymen, who ordinarily would go for each other’s jugular now show a solidarity that is unprecedented. The last time they were this close was 15 years ago when an Al Qaeda cell bombed Nairobi. In fact I think the only thing that unites us is a national tragedy or athletics. And since I abhor war, maybe there should be enough sporting events in the year where Kenyans win gold, that way they may just forget they are a patchwork of tribes. The show of unity is amazing to say the least, I hope they keep it this way when we have to deal with corrupt and inefficient legislature, executive and judiciary. I look forward to a day when they can say it is enough and send all the thieves we have in government home. That will be a great day and I hope I will be alive when that day comes.

3. Kenyans and risk

Whereas in most places people would run away from gun fire and allow security personnel and medics to access the scene, the reverse is true here. Kenyans will run closer to the scene just to be able to have a story to tell. The police have had quite a difficult trying to manage the crowds around the shopping mall. I understand you want to help or help yourselves to something, but please, what is the point in making an already dangerous situation even worse still?

4. Our useless fourth estate

These are a bunch of some not so bright people. While people are trying to hide for their lives, they were busy with footage showing where people are hiding, showing us gory images, whether to scare us to numbness or to get viewership, the jury is still out. Maybe it is how or the duration of their training, but I hope someday, the media will be populated with more brains than they currently have.

5. Our borders and the situation in Somali

We have had porous borders, as porous as a damaged sieve, for so long that one could sneak an elephant through. There has been filtration of small arms, the domestic situation hasn’t been any better. Unemployment is on the rise, the cost of living getting ever high and the gap between the rich[ the thieves] and the poor getting ever larger that there is not a shortage of youth to be recruited, with the promise a few of a few shillings, to such cells. The country should recall our soldiers in Somali and let them continue to butcher each other as they have done in the last over two decades. Maybe someday an intelligent lot will rise out of that piece of rock and stop the senseless killing. As long as we have men and women in that vast country, we will be sport for Al Shabaab and anyone with the wherewith to acquire a grenade or plan a similar attack.

End of observations, I will continue to populate the list when and if I feel like it.

The world will not be a safe place as long as their will be someone ready to kill another in defense of their god or because of an idea. Let us be reasonable. Let us, as a race, for once, rise up to the challenge of acting with intelligence that every man prides himself to have above other brutes and have all the stockpile of weapons destroyed. Guns, bombs, grenades, missiles, chemical weapons and other arsenal were made with only one thing in mind, to kill or to make killing many people easy. It is time we stopped the merchants of death from making profits by helping us kill each other quickly, violently and easily. Let us all work together towards a world where there is equity. We must act with courage. We must act with resolve to ensure resources are equitably distributed, that no one group of people are exploited. Let the hate and bigotry, that is fueled by religion come to an end. Let us be reasonable. If the religious people can’t do this on their own, then dear atheists, naturalists, agnostics and other non believers out-birth them. There is not enough love to spare some for gods that don’t exist. Let us love each other and forget about the gods.