I feel so sad when I read about what is happening in my motherland Kenya. We have a self-declared digital government but I’m ashamed of the fact that we are using the digital platform to tear each other apart, rather than using ICT to building our nation. Our mainstream media is also hereby accused of openly taking sides and carelessly propagating lies and hatred towards certain communities. You have been known to twist headlines and change stories with the sole aim of attracting more readers, viewers and listeners. You thrive more on sensational reporting as opposed to exceptional reporting. The media has the best chance to unite this country but instead, profits are the main motivator.
My understanding of the situation in Kenya is that many communities are feeling left out of state appointments, which according to the new constitution must reflect the diverse face of our independent nation. The new regime has been accused of replacing officers at high levels with those from only one community. One half of the ruling coalition has also joined the bandwagon in raising concerns about unequal and inequitable distribution of state appointments. The truth of the matter is that we have skewed and heavily imbalanced distribution of those lucrative positions.
For example, why should we have one community in control of the Treasury, Revenue collection system, all key positions in the Transportation docket filled by one community … These grievances are real and cannot be ignored. Kenyans have every right to feel short-changed and to express their dissatisfaction with the government. These are not things we should easily afford to “Accept and move on” especially with this crop of Kenyans who understand the constitution and want it fully implemented, making amendments as and when required to reflect the dynamism of the Kenyan society.
Kenyans are now living under constant threat of terror attacks, car-jacking, armed robberies and other forms of insecurity. It cannot be business as usual; we have every right to demand better security from the government. Telling us “Usalama unaanza na mimi …” is a PR gimmick and an admission of the failure by state security organs in which we have invested huge sums of money in previous years with no tangible results. I fear that an independent forensic examination into our national security expenditure might uncover dark secrets that are best guarded by the clique of people who have remained at the helm of our security organs for the past five decades. I know the military has some sophisticated gadgets and technology, some of which is displayed during national celebrations, but the manner of acquisition often leaves analysts baffled, especially because security contracts are shrouded with mystery and are never subjected to public scrutiny.
Could the state please and as a matter of urgency construct proper housing units for all members of our police force? Putting our hardworking police officers in colonial-style tin huts or dilapidated mud-walled houses with grass-thatched roofs, with no provision for privacy, no running water, no proper toilets and bathrooms is so demoralizing. Then we shamelessly expect such officers to diligently protect the lives and property of Kenyans. Nothing can prevent such officers from turning into alcoholics, or colluding with criminals or soliciting for bribes in the course of their duties. Meanwhile, their clueless bosses are busy getting everything wrong, from blaming explosions on innocent bulbs, ordering Kenyans to remove tints from their private cars, to arresting fake Al Shabaab tweeps.
It is not surprising that when Kenyans criticize and demand better services from the state, those from the president’s backyard come out fighting and redirecting attention to the previous regime which we all know was a coalition government that was formed on a give-and-take basis simply to get us out of the pit that we as a country fell into in the aftermath of the 2007 General Elections. Interestingly, during the tenure of the previous government, certain people never wasted any opportunity to remind the rest of Kenya that there was indeed only one president and that the position of PM was more like that of a “Class Prefect” but now when it comes to apportioning blame to the previous regime, we are reminded that the “PM was part of the government and RAO should therefore take blame for the blunders of the Kibaki administration” well, I’m not privy to how the two men worked but I know that security as a sensitive and important docket was and remains directly under to the Head of State. Information in the public domain suggests that the PM was an unwanted partner in the coalition and was treated with plenty of contempt and disobedience. He unwittingly provided his haters with ammunition to attack him when he publicly complained about the low-key reception and treatment at a state function at the Coast. His grievances were genuine but we only saw pettiness in his remarks thus allowing the responsible government officers an opportunity to get away with the public humiliation of a man whom we had been made to believe was equal to the then president.
The presidency is obliged to unite Kenyans and not to create discord. The president took an oath to defend the constitution and protect the people of Kenya; the vows did not include issuing statements to blame his political opponents for insecurity. The statement issued 48 hours after the Mpeketoni attack was rather unfortunate, untimely and misadvised. I never watched his televised address and I don’t know how it went, but reducing matters of state security to community level just because majority of the dead were from the president’s community was a n epic fail. I’m tempted to remind the president of the charges facing him at The Hague in relation to the 2008 PEV. His statement has since drawn mixed reaction from already heavily polarized Kenyans. More blows seem to have landed on RAO, who the president’s men are accusing of being hungry for power. RAO is on record as having denied this, but social media commentators are having a field day unleashing all manner of insults, ultimatums and threats should RAO continue with his political activities.
It is absolutely normal for an ordinary Kikuyu man to defend the presidency and desire that the status quo prevails, but that doesn’t exempt Njoroge from the high cost of living, poisonous alcoholic drinks and runaway insecurity. As a matter of fact, unless he is politically well-connected, he never benefits directly from a Kikuyu presidency. Similarly, it is absolutely normal for an ordinary Luo man to criticize the government and wish for a fellow son of the lakeside region to occupy State House. However, that will not guarantee more fish from the lake nor will it solve all other socio-economic problems facing the whole of Kenya.
During these tense political moments, some brainless chaps from the Kikuyu community often come out to deride the Luo community for not undergoing circumcision. Some go ahead to swear that no uncircumcised man will ever rule Kenya. I have never understood the obsession with circumcision (or lack of it) and its relationship with the presidency, but I know that the ability to lead is not installed in your penis. Luos must also not use the words “thief”, “money” and “Kikuyu” in one sentence. Theft is not an exclusive monopoly of one community.
I know land is a thorny issue and the history of questionable land acquisitions in Kenya has never been decisively dealt with despite public calls for the implementation of various reports like the Ndung’u Report and the TJRC report. Kenyans from economically viable parts of the country are now living as squatters in what was once their own land due to failure and or unwillingness by the state to effectively deal with nation’s Achilles’ heel.
To the Luo community, you are the fourth largest community in Kenya but the best in many things, like football, music, flamboyant lifestyles and many more. Use them to deal with the frustrations of life. You run on a unique operating system that cannot be allowed to collapse. The time is coming when omena will be a routine feature in the State House menu, but that will only happen through constitutionally recognized means otherwise known as elections. Say this after me “Stones were only fashionable when David used one against Goliath in the Bible.”
To the Kikuyu community, you have the power; use it gracefully, responsibly and for the benefit, stability and development of the entire country. Do not abuse your power (including huge population and economic advantage) to lock other communities out of leadership positions. The Kikuyu community has often attracted plenty of mistrust and disapproval because of the arrogance of some of their leading lights towards other Kenyan communities. Do not rely on criminal gangs to further your business and political interests.
The presidency is not a preserve of one particular community… UK was granted an opportunity to correct the wrongs that his late father has been accused of. As he does that, cheered on by tribal bigots, other Kenyans should be allowed to express their concerns and feelings freely without being accused of attempting to destabilize the government. Kenya is a democracy and freedom of expression is entrenched in our constitution. But we must use acceptable language devoid of tribal insinuations and be ready to bear the consequences of our utterances. The police and judiciary must also demonstrate their independence and objectivity by dealing firmly and decisively with any leader who incites Kenyans through inflammatory statements.
Lastly, it appears like our once famed Intelligence Service is no longer providing credible security-related information to other security organs as required. The officers at the NIS are busy profiling politicians and tapping conversations of ordinary Kenyans in entertainment spots instead of infiltrating and dismantling organized gangs like Al Shabaab, Mungiki, MRC and other real enemies of the people of Kenya. Even with its heavy funding, the outfit cannot gather information that can be used to bring the poaching menace to a stop, I wonder if I’m expecting too much from them to tackle terrorism and other forms of organized crime. And by the way we are sick and tired of NIS playing their usual card “… we had prior intelligence reports and passed them on to the police blah blah blah…” We are witnessing systemic failure that should not be condoned at the expense of the lives of innocent Kenyans. Inaction by the president is like issuing a congratulatory letter to our security chiefs, written with the blood of those who died at Westgate, Mpeketoni, Gikomba, Garissa, Likoni and many other places where militants and armed criminals continue exploiting our exposed underbelly almost at will.
Dear Kipruto, Ekai, Njoroge, Yusuf, Anyango et al, I work in a conflict-affected country and wouldn’t want such a beautiful country like ours to disintegrate.