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Political & Social Empowerment

BUILDING BRIDGES INITIATIVE DOCUMENT SERIALIZATION: CHAPTER 6 & 7

CHAPTER 6: INCLUSIVITY

Diversity; as discussed in the Kenyan perspective, is a wide raft that entails ethnicity, race, culture, religion, gender, age, disability status and socio-economic circumstance in life. Concomitantly, the citizen’s interests, priorities, capabilities and experiences become highly complex. Democracy has the strength of empowering different Kenyans of diverse backgrounds to inject their zeal, passion, skill and intellectual acumen to contribute to progress in Kenya. But to cater for this myriad of interests it has become paramount to now make a call for inclusivity in appreciation of the fact that despite our diversity, none of these parameters marks one Kenyan as superior to the other.

The lack of political inclusivity is rifer within the Executive Arm of government. It’s an open secret that there is a cabal of elite professionals and profiteers who believe with religious conviction that only by having a con-tribal kinsman in the executive will they have ease of access to resources, jobs, state largesse and government procurement. The much-reviled system of patronage has worked to pay credence to that aforementioned sentiment. Ethnic mobilization merely for the sake of attaining political power as the prime rallying call in the Kenyan political life though primitive and reprehensible is unfortunately the reality of the day. Even the current process of change to the constitutional structure still has to jump by this very hurdle. Needless to say, the current effort for reform is geared at dissipating executive authority both as a way of curtailing the propensity for executive overreach and also broadening political leadership for optimum accommodation of diverse interests. A home truth that has to be disseminated to the rank and file of our Republic is that not every ethnic identity can find space at the pinnacle of government either national or county at the same time.

From the many submissions made to the BBI task force, these are the essential qualities of inclusivity:

  • Government appointments must forthwith manifestly represent the face of Kenya.
  • Equality in the ability to vote for all Kenyans of majority age.
  • Decision-making becomes a product of deliberations, debates and participation by all the foremost political players in Kenya.
  • Gender parity in leadership. Measures to comply with the two-thirds gender rule that seeks to level the playing field must not merely be a PR exercise but a reality on the ground.
  • Government should henceforth respond positively and visibly to the concerns of the rank and file of Kenya.
  • Protect the foremost Principle of Democracy where the majority have their way but the minority too have their say.
  • A keen eye on the needs of the most vulnerable groups in society inclusive of the youth, women and people with disabilities. Additionally, the economically vulnerable should also be accorded equal say in the mechanics of government as the prosperous and privileged.
  • Death to this ambiguous entity dubbed the ‘deep-state’ simply explained as individuals or cabals of people wielding heavy economic power, abusing their grandeur to substitute the will of the electorate for their own.
  • Government should respect cultural and religious diversity of all the citizens of our country.

Inclusivity will for the purposes of this process, be deemed the highest degree of responsiveness by decision-makers in Government to the interests of all encompassed within our boundaries. Cognizance must be taken to the fact that historically Kenya has formulated marvelous policies and laws but the crux of the matter is implementation, operationalization and enforcement of these strictures. Public trepidation is at an all-time high and this could adversely affect belief of these current recommendations being operationalized based on the fate of the many action reports that lie fallow in the Office of the President gathering dust and mold not to speak of the many articles of our pristinely promulgated constitution in 2010 that remain unenforced.  State Institutions, Departments & Corporations too have failed Kenyans in not ensuring Article 21 (2) detailing the Bill of Rights elements covered under Article 43 are fully implemented i.e Rights to health, adequate food of acceptable quality, clean water, social security and education.

Citizen awareness too will go a long way in ensuring public officers actually execute their mandates.

Major Recommendations with this regard include:

1.) Political, Economic, Social, Religious, Cultural, age and Gender-based Inclusivity – Political by means of equal power of vote at the ballot box.

Women in Kenyan Leadership

Economic by equality and equity in undertaking development countrywide.

Religious by safeguarding freedom of religious association and protection from fraudsters masquerading as authentic clergy to their unsuspecting congregants. A Public Register of all churches, mosques and temples must exist and subject their finances to an annual independent audit and publicize the results.

An appellate court within the Kadhi court system was requested.

Cultural inclusion by promoting indigenous knowledge, technologies, foods and natural remedies.

2.) The Marginalized must refrain from reciprocating the same gesture – Those bellyaching about marginalization by the national government must not do the same to ethnic minorities within their counties.

3.) Office of the Public Participation Rapporteur – This will enhance transparency, quality and inclusion in public participation processes required by our constitution. The Office will work on behalf of state and non-state entities undertaking policy and operational initiatives calling for Public participation. Their operations must be above board, accurately chronicling their work and be responsive to their relevant partners. Also, Public Interest Litigation should be within their purview in a manner free of influence from those litigated against in a model emulated from India.

4.) Transparency in public procurement and business lobbying – An end to the culture of trawling the offices of State Functionaries with express aim of empowering disproportionately, unelected parties to abuse their economic advantage albeit corruption to parochially influence governance & policymaking. The envisaged Office of the Public Participation Rapporteur will be furnished with legal authority to record all activities of business lobbyists (tenderpreneurs) who seek to interact with officers with the sole aim of influencing legislation, policy, regulation and public procurement favourably to their businesses.

Echoes of the hocus-pocus at the corridors of Harambee House Annex in February 2020 where an unelected official (a disgraced former Cabinet Secretary) engaged in fraudulent business unsanctioned by the national government that ultimately was to deprive the exchequer of revenue still ring ever so loud! Mister Deputy President; the Principal occupant of the office complex, has denied any awareness of such a caper at the moment of my authoring this piece.Henceforth, occupants of his office and all government installations will be ridded of these unscrupulous characters wielding power usurped from the ordinary citizen.

Godfather complex

5.) Employment in Public Service should reflect the Face of Kenya and be rendered corruption-free at recruitment – The worst kept secret about employment in public service is the existence of ‘Godfathers’ who seek bribes to proffer this advantage to the highest bidder and ensuring that the appointee curries favour with them in depriving the citizenry of the requisite social services. Many careers in civil service are initiated by corruption and so it has been difficult for the holders of the office to uphold any quantifiable integrity. In appreciation of the onerous task of restituting professionalism to public service recruitment:

Disciplined forces both Specialists and servicemen will be recruited by a consortium of Private Sector recruitment companies that are internationally reputable to ensure impartiality and be able to reflect both merit & diversity.

Affirmative action will be enlisted in situations where no candidate meets the criteria for qualification and diversity so that minority candidates are facilitated to enhance their chances for the positions.

The Public Service Commission will be required to make public the annual diversity report in the Public Service.

CHAPTER 7: SHARED PROSPERITY

Our very own National Anthem envisaged the dream of prosperity post-independence, in the first stanza last verse in Swahili, “Raha tupate na ustawi” in addition to “tuungane mikono, pamoja kazini” the second last line of the third stanza. Unfortunately, 56 years after independence we find ourselves a discordant lot who have ended up among the Least Developed Countries of the world. I could go on and on about how South Korea and Singapore that were at par with us in terms of development in 1963 are now far over the horizon, but that would be an exercise in futility. We have shot ourselves in the foot with myopic leadership, ethnic balkanization and partisanship just for parochial gain. The same rallying call of fighting against poverty, illiteracy and disease that our forefathers had at independence is tragically now repackaged as a campaign promise by individuals who know only too well they won’t do diddly-squat to improve our lot. Unemployment albeit underemployment is now rife among the youth of this nation. The yawning gap between the have and have-nots notwithstanding, economic prosperity is now only the preserve of the Big-business owners and no trickle down to the man on the ground. Irrational barriers to entry are erected against innovation and growth hence curtailing job creation for the highly-skilled manpower churned out of our tertiary institutions ceaselessly.

I have at one time been advised by one of my principal mentors to endeavour never to antagonize but look for areas of cooperation while partnering with huge corporations when working on innovation to eschew the prospect of being crushed by the larger entity or worse still being bogged-down under a myriad of frivolous litigation, not to mention the manifold rough-hand, arm-twisting and mafia-style hostile takeover tactics available to the dastardly of heart, mercilessly grabbing concepts from the architects of original, unpatented ideas.

Gatekeeping and rent-seeking castigated in the above Chapter is actually a crippling malfeasance in the corridors of power. Brokers have become a national pestilence. No less the President himself is on record putting up his hands in dismay and admitted there is little he can do about these shadowy characters in his very office; but today by political will, he’s weeding them out gradually but not without their deleterious impact on the perception of state as currently exists in the eye of ‘Wanjiku.’

The dream of entrepreneurship in Kenya pitched to millions of the unemployed is nothing short of an invitation to tread water, in dissonance to the case in developed countries where business owners and employers are facilitated, subsidized and even given tax rebates. I invite those who can, to read through Fred Trump and his son Donald Trump’s exemplum chronicling their ascent to the top of corporate America and the enabling factors. In the USA; coincidentally the same year Kenya courted liberty, Martin Luther King Jr. articulated a dream whence his four little children would grow to live and work in a nation where they would be assayed not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. Our founding fathers, no doubt followed that epochal speech closely due to our long-standing links with not just the Negritude movement but also solidarity with the Black American Civil-Rights Movement. However, in modern-day Kenya the key determinant of success has become your ethnic extraction, parentage, who you know and where you live. This makes it an exercise in futility trying to make a clean break with your current circumstance without external help. It’s indeed circumvention of Newton’s First Law of Motion! Incoherent and non-existent policy direction puts us in a deeper quandary. No successful nation has ever been built on the substratum of such disparities where exclusion, corruption, poverty, mounting hunger, unemployment and lack of a common national ethos are the flavour of the day. The logical sequel to such a state of affairs is societal ills, criminal activity & ultimately civil unrest. When the poor have nothing to eat they will ultimately gourmandize the rich, an eventuality so macabre it’s gut-wrenching!

I do not even for a second envy the guy working at the state department in charge of national planning. He has to provide a policy direction to the conundrum of how to generate more jobs for all who are old enough to work. New thoroughfares are appreciable, a standard-gauge railway is fabulous. But all these pale into oblivion when looked at from the prism of a man burdened by debt, seeing little economic prospect, hunger gnawing at his innards yet he’s merely given nebulous figures about our burgeoning economic output and present rates of investment. A complete economic revolution & workaround is required to deal with the monster called unemployment linked to underemployment and the arch-nemesis ‘the working poor.’ An enlightened diagnosis is the first step for any treatment regimen to be undertaken. It’s no longer enough to discuss the sharing of the minuscule national cake we presently have but rather how to bake a bigger one that can satisfactorily be shared by all of our 47.6 million-strong population. Individually, I have had the great privilege to live and work in Luanda, Angola and can avow to the fact that Kenyans are regarded as more skilled, aggressive and conceptual thinkers compared to many other Africans. In fact, anybody who displays guile, counter-intuitive thinking & is enterprising in Angola is more often than not panegyrized as working like a Kenyan. Just like in the ’90s when everybody wanted to be like Mike (Michael Jordan) in Angola today everybody wants to be like a Kenyan! But looking at GDP Per Capita figures it becomes galling that Kenya is only a small percentage better off than their Southwesterly African counterparts. Despite all our education and enlightenment at a level more than any of our progenitors, we languish in the nadirs of the global prosperity index concurrently being celebrated for advancement in technology, having a vibrant, mixed economy, newly exporting oil but being bedeviled by many of the same ills that weigh down our African contemporaries.

Thoroughfare

We need the same level of transformation that occurred in South East Asia where Singapore roared from the same starting point as Kenya to become a First-world economy. The rallying call was a famous maxim by their former Prime Minister, the venerable Lee Kuan Yew who uttered, “No country can become a major economy without becoming an industrial power.” There is no option but delving headlong into manufacturing to become an economically veritable world power. In the late 1980’s and 90’s, we tried Liberalization. This returned a mixed bag, as well run firms reached the mythical ‘el Dorado’ – The Land of Gold, while those criminally mismanaged have been relegated to the backburners of antiquated asininity in the same league as the saline statue of Lot’s wife! The point I try to pass is that as a nation we have failed to gather sufficient thrust and flight to achieve the escape velocity requisite for full-blown transcendence to the next level. Our efforts have been reduced to the realm of necessary yet insufficient to meet the transformative agenda. With exponentially greater access to all the information of how the Asian Tigers gained their status and closed the gap with high per capita income nations of the developed world, it behooves us to copy from best practice. Pick what has worked while discarding the drawbacks.

Critically crucial is the need for a new economic paradigm for job creation and prosperity. Development should not be adjudged as extremely disproportionate in its distribution as this impacts on our unity and peace as a nation. Every section of Kenya contributes its share to the national kitty. For standardization sake it will be quixotic to convince anybody that for instance Runda Estate deserves more social amenities than the adjacent Githogoro slum merely because more tax revenue is gleaned from the earnings of company supremos, embassy staff, political aficionados and senior state functionaries that reside in the former. It becomes a responsibility of state to equalize development and assure equal routes to prosperity for both the privileged and economically disadvantaged. A task of such a magnitude can only be executed through a well-orchestrated, multi-sectoral engagement between the government and the private sector. Fiscally, our economy must be set on a trajectory of continuous growth while the state offers economic relief to those hit by financial shocks. We must depart from the path of peppering over the gaps in our revenue collection and expectation merely by external borrowing. A culture of increasing the domestic national savings must be inculcated, at a rate of at least 25% of our GDP. We have no option but to grow and incentivize labour-intensive manufacturing with our core market being our neighbours as we prepare for political federation. In the circumstance that Kenya aggressively pursues this agenda, we could potentially position ourselves as an important link for trade, investment and manufacturing between East Africa and the Indian Ocean rim benefiting from the ensuing market and capital for more investments. Economic coordination between State and the private sector must be the new mantra as opposed to strait-jacket State Ownership. As the government will never have capacity to employ everyone, we need to exponentially grow the number of entrepreneurs by facilitating ease of doing business for start-ups and small business debunking the withering calamity of many closing shop before their 3rd birthdays! Logic dictates that greater profitability for SMEs will equate to maximized returns for our national Revenue Authority. This will in turn ensure better service delivery and amelioration of the welfare of the citizenry.

It is by now empirical wisdom that the majority revenue earner in Kenya and indeed many of the Least Developed Nations is Agriculture. In Kenya; regrettably, it has been infiltrated by cartels that abuse political patronage to rig processes thereby disenfranchising the main producer, the farmer. Before I forget to remember, in 2018 Kenya was rocked by a maize scandal where 66 fictitious corn-growers ostensibly pocketed a cool sum of 2.1 billion Kenya shillings among themselves! Invariably, the consumer is equally frustrated as he is forced to pay a heavy price despite copious seasonal availability of the product in question. This leads to poverty for both the farmer and consumer as the products are laden with so many mark-ups as to raise their prices to exorbitant levels leading to consumers who have a fixed income having to pay over-the-odds for food. The middleman simply has to go! The epoch of roadside declarations by Agriculture Cabinet Secretaries that are as hollow as their medium of conveyance is over. A National Intelligence Service-led audit is required on the activities of these creepy-crawlers leading to state sanction under the anti-corruption and Government reform Agenda.

Major Recommendations for shared prosperity include:

A.) An Economic Revolution – A 50-year plan is paramount. We need to think Big and long-term to build an economy that can cater for the now and tomorrow.

The plan must be more technocrat driven and milestone-based than political to survive election cycles and regime change.

Promotion of local investments by the Kenyan Diaspora will go a long way in tapping into both the foreign currency and the acquiesced know-how brought in from the more developed nations.

Embracing of Economic coordination as opposed to state ownership will be key in achieving labour-intensive manufacturing for export. This will also multiply the existing entrepreneurs when ease of doing business is achieved.

A Government driven initiative to provide legal and regulatory guidelines to financial organizations to lend part of their portfolio to key market drivers such as the MSMEs, renewable energy, export credit, agriculture (livestock & fishing), manufacturing, health, housing, education, sanitation and waste management. Banks lacking specialization will be empowered to shift the float to a specially designated development bank with relevant capabilities.

The Government must forthwith be the prime mover of industrialization as its narrative. Active incentives like subsidies, waived import duty and tax rebates will be required to foster lower-technology, labour–intensive and entrepreneurship-led cadres of industrialization.

Intellectual Property protection policy and law to be strengthened for Kenyan inventions, genetic resources, folk knowledge and cultural expressions.

Increase Government savings to 25% of G.D.P to drive a diversified economic agenda without inordinate borrowing.

Offer incentives and economic protection to the Kenyan Diaspora so that they can plough back more of their earnings to Kenya.

Employment conferences held in every county to get more views on job creation.

Spend on more on development than bureaucracy. Write into law a target ratio of 70:30 for development versus recurrent expenditure.

National Expenditure should be fair and proportionately distributed. Planning should be guided by a published and updated index from county to county.

Broaden the tax base, simplify the taxation regime and bring fairness in its application to reduce tax fraud. Criminalize tax evasion and punish all its agents.

Regulate online & mobile loan applications that are aggravating the indebtedness of poor Kenyans.

Build the economy from the grassroots. Expand extension services for livestock and agricultural sectors to effectively advise and set clear standards and market linkages.

Empower farmers with retail price information to make a profitable sustenance out of their toil. Strengthen their various cooperative movements to have heightened bargaining power in price determination. Curtail corruption in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

Promote Research and Development as this is the cornerstone of technological development. Trends are transient and dynamic, so to avoid being trapped in a rut you need to move with the times.

B.) Entrench Article 43 on Economic and Social Rights – This should be a pet project of both the national and county governments. The electorate should be vigilant to hold the politicians that come to ask for their votes during the crazy campaign season to account by ensuring the Party Manifestos laid before them consist of this agenda item.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics is entrusted to ensure a National Human Development Index domiciling the UN developed version is enforced within our soil. The report must be published annually and put online.

C.) Beware of the predilection of corruption to fight back undermining efforts to attain shared prosperity – Unimpeded, the tentacles of corruption spread far and wide resulting in abuse of economic power by import substitution schemes that will adversely affect quality such that substandard products will be found on the shelves of our shops.

D.) Safeguard future generations from mounting debt and unsustainable environmental degradation – Every generation must endeavor to live within their means and not mortgage our progeny’s future by overloading ourselves with irresponsible borrowing merely for prestige and devoid of value.

Dispense with Private betting firms in their stead set up a national lottery whose proceeds will work to uplift youth activities, sports, culture and social good. The proliferation of unregulated and private betting firms is killing the drive for enterprise in our youth leading to hopelessness and desperation. The proceeds accrued are often carted offshore with little left for developing the host nation. The adage that in gambling, the house (company owners) always wins has never rung ever so true.

E.) Use scarce public resources more for development than bureaucracy – Also to address is the large discrepancy in income by professionals ostensibly in the same Job Group. Eliminate wasteful expenditure on refurbishments and new cars when the old ones are still functional. Important is to note, the need to optimize on the forgotten conference facilities lying idle before enlisting some swanky hotel. Scrap sitting allowance for government aficionados on salaries.

F.) Nurture opportunities for personal initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship from a young age – Aggressively hone entrepreneurship from an early age while minimizing taxation for fledgling enterprises, a tax-holiday if I may opine. Not nurturing the business sense of our children from a young age is akin to condemning them to a death sentence knowing full well that there are minimal opportunities for employment out here.

Support creativity and sports where young Kenyans show enthusiasm, potential and interest. The careers of Macdonald Mariga, Dennis Oliech and Victor Wanyama should be sound validation that there is money to be made in sports.

Identify & invest in special talents and needs at the Early Childhood Development Stage.

Formulate a mentoring, training and support centre chaired by the president and coordinated by the Private sector that engages budding entrepreneurs to mentorship, training and support. Youth Entrepreneurs will be matched with respective Business Development Advisors and a national network of volunteer mentors. Work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy classes are urged from the age of 12 until graduation.

Facilitate the youth to start business by having an open advice desk at every local Huduma Centre manned by a Business Development Expert.

Technical and Vocational training should be freely accessed by all to effect self-employment. Of colossal importance is to dispense with the outmoded mentality that technical work is for the academically challenged. Two parallel but equal paths are needed between academic and technical training with the assurance that both will potentially lead to rewarding careers and meaningful sustenance.

G.) Government Development Action plans should be undertaken in every county – No region should be shortchanged of their own development in the name of project implementation elsewhere. Remedial policies must be implemented for regions that lag behind. An equalization fund must be set up as an affirmative action measure in an initiative dubbed the ‘Kubadili Plan.’ This has at its heart providing all Kenyans with quality services, foundational to the theme of shared prosperity. Build social amenities and security apparatus in marginalized areas to give them a chance of reaching the levels of the better-developed regions within three years of inception of this action plan.

As opposed to the run-of-the-mill, worn-out paradigm about seeing business plans, we entreat the government tiers both national and county to focus on product developmentEach county should henceforth be facilitated to establish Product Development Parks and Innovation Hubs that allow young, entrepreneurial Kenyans to have the benefit of expert know-how on transitioning from having a promising idea to a marketable product.

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Political & Social Empowerment

BUILDING BRIDGES INITIATIVE DOCUMENT SERIALIZATION: CHAPTER 2 & 3

CHAPTER 2: LACK OF A NATIONAL ETHOS


hen our colonial overlords ruled over us, they amalgamated our different ethnic nation-states to become one big entity dubbed Kenya. They drew boundaries arbitrarily which cut across families, clan spheres of influence and even bisecting tribal identities in absolute disregard to these sensibilities. Of course initially, when colonization came it never portrayed these Caucasian seafarers as the run-of-the-mill cackle of hyenas keen to dominate of our lands, waterways, cattle & other factors of production; far from it. The seminal manifestation was when the missionaries and explorers came here; quixotically discovering and naming physical features, that have no doubt been in our purview since the dawn of time, dishing out the names of their monarchs to these newfound edifices. They found us gullible and unrefined taking advantage to purchase our ignorance with silk and paper all the while easing themselves into our spaces and reviling our cultural identities as devil-smut! Then came the industrialists under the Imperial British East African Company. These ones had an actual pecuniary interest in the amalgamation of population tufts as these would come in handy as sources of labour for their ventures and a market for their manufactured goods. What was initially portrayed as an ‘iron snake’ no doubt snaked its way upcountry opening up our hinterlands to the fairer globetrotters.

Kenya is one country that has the propensity to soar to much greater heights but eternally contrives to relegate albeit stifle her ascent to the pantheon of the most successful African Nations. This is partly due to the fact that we are governed by individuals shackled by mediocrity, greed, tribalism and bloated egos. In actual sense, many of these are men and women sentenced by the gods to die a thousand deaths as the consequence of choosing the coward’s avenue by lying low when authentic ‘sons of the soil’ espousing solid credentials came out in full force and gave up their lives for the liberation of their country in both the independence struggle and the 2nd liberation strife for multiparty democracy. They have unfortunately survived to enjoy the heritage reserved for the noble & valiant which to me is tear-jerking.

What is now clear to all after 56 years of self-governance is that despite congregation into a country, there was never envisaged any congenial universal ideals to bond us together. Our shared struggle for independence, the future endeavour to upstage poverty, illiteracy and disease has proven of minuscule value as a cohesive bond, leaving the tribal extraction as the only unifying factor for many of our compatriots.

Herein stands the crux on which Kenya has had to be crucified henceforth; a lack of a national ethos. From the etymology of the word ‘ethos’, it appears to be a much-vaunted Greek ideal that was bequeathed unto Western civilization and cherished as to be propagated into the succeeding Roman Empire’s Latin language to mean the overarching “character” or “aspirations” existing as the guiding beliefs, attitudes or philosophies that characterize a community or entire nation. It is the characteristic spirit that drives any group which every member is expected to subscribe to for continual existence and maintenance of any semblance of unity vital for development. Post-independence, the fledgling union has had to grapple with this lack of shared identity that has for the most part been our greatest undoing. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has arisen to define, develop & subscribe to an unyielding collective vision that ultimately leads to a united Kenya that can overcome not just our historical challenges but the many more we will encounter in future. In repurposing the lyrics of a track by the great rapper and music business impresario Shawn Carter a.k.a Jay-Z called 99-problems, “I have 99 problems but a b***** ain’t one”, as Kenyans we have a myriad of hurdles to jump over but let us never allow the absence of the unity of purpose to be one. This national ethos will beholden to appreciate and honour excellence in our civic responsibilities of leadership and not forgetting our consideration of each other. Respect for the divergence in cultural heritage, beliefs and autochthonous religions will be the cornerstone of this new-found ideal. Like any pathological condition, its remedy begins with accepting that you have a problem and desperately require an amelioration for this offending circumstance.

As a result of a lack of shared identity, our nation is poised in some sort of quasi-purgatory state between our traditional heritage and the undeniable worldview touted superior to the former called globalization. Many still have a sensation of disconnect from our pre-colonial societies, the broken historical narratives infused upon us that our way of life is inferior to those of other jurisdictions. Kenyans are a resilient people that have adapted to change each time acquitting ourselves better. A National ethos will further act to expand our circles of brotherhood so that every Kenyan will view his continued membership in this sovereignty, as a thing of pride worthy of commitment and ownership. We will need initiatives to innovatively marry the young, dynamic and urbanizing culture with the enduring folk-wisdom of our diverse cultures. This will ultimately be a bottom-up initiative commencing in the family unit and local community up to local leadership, culminating in the Institutions of State and Executive Authority. Along the way the support from the civil society, private sector, academia, the media among others will be much appreciated. It will most certainly not be a single note from one composer but a multifaceted song; an acapella of sorts, where every note and voice will be sampled individually and weaved in unison to create a melodious harmony. We need a country where virtue is not reviled and ridiculed rather emphasized as a path to prosperity. Hard work, integrity, respectfulness, justice and an unerring predilection to peaceful co-existence should not just be noted and nodded to in appreciation instead promoted and even feted. We need a logical system where he who exerts the most effort is expected to reap maximum return. In building an enduring national ethos let us also be cognizant of previous efforts that resulted in what now corroborates a mixed bag of success. Previously concocted slogans include: Uhuru na Kazi, Harambee & the Nyayo Philosophy of Peace, Love & Unity. In hindsight, the state was more often than not thoroughly at odds with the philosophy it preached with its functionaries sempiternally contradicting sentiments they themselves loudly mouthed off at public rendezvous. The absorption of this national ethos ought not just be a top-down endeavour but also a bottom-up policy interspersed by diverse approaches in respect of our cultural origins but with a keen eye on globalization so that we don’t sacrifice solidarity with the rest of the world; probably a greater ideal, at the altar of nationalism. A balance should be sought.

The Recommendations touted to encapsulate a national ethos among our people include:

  1. Think Big and Long term – Needless to say Elections will oft come and go but Kenya will endure! We need a unique vision that will produce the archetypal Kenyan civilization that must be a product of meaningful, inclusive and multisectoral ideas. We need ideals not slogans that will outlast election cycles and even the party manifestos of the rulers of the day.
  2. Need for an Official and Inclusive History – Rename the Kenya National Archives as the Official Historian & National Archival Service and broaden its mandate to work in consort with Libraries, Universities, Museums and individual historians to research, analyze and present a thorough and definitive Kenyan history. The Institution should be led by an acclaimed scholar of African history or world-class expert on Library science/curating having participation from private curators, artists and elders. Our history should accurately be traced as far as 1000 years back, providing a definitive account of settlement in Kenya. Not to be denigrated in this initiative should be the roles of philosophers, anthropologists, theologians and political scientists. Presentation should be in a form understood by Kenyans from all walks of life.
  3. Finding Comfort in our own African skin – Harmonize the modern Kenyan identity with our diverse cultural heritage to eschew the prospect of living in disparate worlds. Strengthen the Ministry of Culture and promote its initiatives. Devolution of Traditional Knowledge and cultural identity as per Schedule 4 of the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Act of 2016. Replace Boxing Day on 26th December with National Culture Day. Public participation and expert knowledge will be vital in codifying an official pantheon of Kenyan heroes. Officially recognize and enshrine into law the provision of state support to recognized living paragons of national heroism if deemed vulnerable and destitute. Heroes are to be henceforth defined as men & women that selflessly gave themselves up as a fragrant sacrifice in our crusade against colonization, the modern-day strife for democracy & civil liberty and outstanding achievement in human endeavor. These heroes should forthwith, be pictorially displayed in museums and academic curricula.
  4. Development of a sense of responsibility – It behooves us to have the senior ranks of leadership being the prime-movers of this national moment. At every twist and turn, they should preach this gospel but also espouse it in the way they live and interact. Lessons on morality & the sacrosanctity of truth from the domestic level will be valuable. Civic Education must forthwith be an integral part of cultural initiation into adulthood. The 4th Estate should play their keynote role in education, promotion of national identity, lionizing the distinctiveness of every soul and keeping the powerful to account. The virtue of service to humanity should be inculcated from an early age and formalized through the National Volunteer Service. Structured volunteer activities will be enhanced to reflect compassion, cooperation, empathy and responsibility among the youth. Religious leaders should adjunctive to the tenets of their faiths, also preach the inalienable role of a national ethos. This rooted in morality, ethics and integrity must become part of the academic curriculum.
  5. Round the clock focus on ethics – The EACC should not only be tooled to impede economic crimes but also accorded the requisite constitutional protection. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission should be subsumed in the Ethics Commission and have a specified mandate inclusive of monitoring, reporting, advising state, surveying all government entities with regards to adherence to ethics and publicizing the results, conducting civic education on morality and lastly enhance the link between cultural systems of ethics and Kenya’s Constitutional strictures.
  6. Link Cultural values & current norms of Kenyans – Formalize cultural rites of passage and benchmark them with the newly acquired national ethos.
  7. Enforcement of our National Ethos – This is to be reactivated or modeled if non-existent along the lines of Chapter 6 capturing National values and have functional mechanisms for enforcement. Bullying, misinformation, demeaning public office & discrimination should be deemed breaches of our constitutional order and be severely reprimanded if not prosecuted.

We must no doubt understand and be ready to defend the ideal of Kenya being bigger than any of our individual parts and be promoted as even greater than those singular entities that constitute it living in appreciation of a common national ethos.

CHAPTER 3: RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS

As has been demonstrated by both empirical and experiential wisdom, democracy is the best system of government though the most expensive as such never delivered to the polity on a silver platter. This is because politics and by extension democracy is run by politicians. Contrary to popular belief, being a Politician and leadership are mutually exclusive entities. James Freeman Clarke, an American Theologian once sagaciously opined, “A politician is subsumed by the worries of the next election while the Statesman mulls about the next generation, as a Statesman seeks to steer the vessel keenly a politician is at home drifting in the current!” Many here in Kenya go into politics uninitiated, seeing this as a rapid conduit to amass riches, personal aggrandizement, create business for their personal enterprises & associates, a clear representation of their selfishness, egoism and vanity as human beings. Historical evidence is clear that even a great leader of the mettle of Julius Caesar continually had creases of worry on his forehead during his period as an elected consul in 59 B.C which vanished when he became Emperor and Dictator for Life. With this in hindsight, a politician may more often than not be forced to even trample on the rights of his electorate for self-preservation. Consequently, vigilance is urged on the part of the plebeians with regards to their Rights, Obligation & Responsibilities because no one else will act on their behalf, not even those constitutionally mandated to do so. Kenyan soldiers brave enemy troops defending our territorial integrity, many making the ultimate sacrifice to protect our liberty. Who is blind to the numerous IED attacks on the policemen patrolling our porous frontier with Somalia in recent times? I have suffered personal loss of good friends but this is definitely no arena for my tears! Many of these sacrifices have not and can never be captured by TV cameras or lauded in the dailies as patriots rise to encourage, heal, rescue and sacrifice it all for the sake of their compatriots.

Despite all these, it’s an appalling statistic how few people are actually aware of their responsibilities as enshrined by law. As a break with tradition, it’s incumbent upon us all to dispense with this outmoded system where we take a back seat and have politicians read important documents of national concern for instance, our own Constitution and now this BBI document on our behalf then dictate to us the position to take. This is dereliction of our hard-earned liberty to exercise our volition at junctures that may never be available to us again. We have deprecated ourselves to those who ask, “What will Kenya do for me?” instead of taking matters into our more than capable hands as our progenitors did and more importantly our future progeny expect us to. We think of there being a caste of ‘wenye nchi’ (Owners of the country) while relegating ourselves to mere spectators – ‘wananchi.’  Consequently, the siren call of corruption and dishonesty compromises public service as the ravenous try to bridge the gap to whence the grass is greener! This has left us vulnerable to insecurity and even disasters.

A walk down memory lane clarifies the fact that in pre-colonial times our individual nation-states used to be egalitarian in nature built on the enlightenment that ‘I am because you are.’ Brotherhood and good neighbourliness was our raison d’etre. Sharing of responsibilities created a system where human rights were inherent and everyone was reliable of the other man such that one provides security against external aggressors while his neighbour works on the farm to grow the food that will feed them all. And for centuries this ensured the continuity of our communities. Taking up these responsibilities was concomitant with adulthood in many jurisdictions. After colonialism, we were westernized and our longstanding socio-economic traditions were lost in the interest of preserving white hegemony upon us. Our indigenous knowledge-base petered out. Post-colonialism we were left in a chasm as we retained a superfluity of our traditional system but felt the predilection to formal legal rights that were promulgated as our Independence Constitution in 1963. This new supreme law failed in its entirety to capture eons of folklore and conventions choosing to majorly ape the systems of our former oppressors. Consequently, today we have a rights-heavy and responsibility-light dispensation with civil society replacing the use of our personal consciences. These missteps have seen us almost stumble into the cauldron of chaos albeit National Armageddon in 2007 and in 2010 a new constitutional order was formulated.

What recommendations does this chapter have on our continued nationhood?

 

  1. Cognition that Responsibilities and Rights of Kenyans are inherent and promote knowledge & attitudes that enhance responsible citizenship – The spirit of interdependence must become our observance again! Rights exist side by side with responsibilities and prudence dictates that where my fist ends is where your nose begins! This should be knowledge infused as a life-long odyssey as opposed to one or two course units in the curriculum. New systems to fight malfeasance in government will be promoted i.e. a whistleblowing culture or reporting malevolent elements of society to the security apparatus and such efforts forthwith be rewarded. Communication channels for this will be open and manned by personnel espousing integrity. Civic (Citizenship) Education will be prioritized in government policy and initiatives in both the County and National government. The culture of taking responsibility must never again be deemed intuitive but be deliberately inculcated in the Kenyan upbringing. Initiation ceremonies will be integral in edifying the newly-minted adults into a world where responsibility is the key marker of their succeeding stage in life.
  2. The Culture of ‘Skin in the Game’ and ownership in leadership – ‘Skin in the game’ mirrors the age-old adage stating “What is good for the goose is also good for the gander!” There has been a superiority complex in the leadership cadre where national hospitals and schools cater for the proletarians while for our rulers only treatment or tutelage outside our borders in the western world will make muster. If you deem the handiwork of your regime sufficiently good for the ordinary Kenyans then the same must be estimated as functionally effective by you Mr. Politician, your wife and children. Double standards have bred discord as chalk-circles demarcate the respective castes in society. A Ministerial Code and policy statement must have included within an enforceable clause that Ministers are compelled to use the social services under their purview without fail. These principles must also percolate to the Counties.
  3. Teach Effective Parenting – This will be pivotal in raising healthy and enlightened children in the dynamic Kenya of today. Just like marriage counselling in many churches pre-nuptial, efforts should be made to strengthen parenting by means of a generic & simple curriculum. Parents are meant to be their children’s principal role models & mentors.
  4. Entrench ethics awareness, training and accountability in civil service – Integrity and Ethics Charters should be the tapestry of every office.
  5. Life-long Service – This is the best way to inculcate responsibility into all of us. Kenyans should be encouraged to voluntarily give 6 months of service to the republic in early adulthood (18-26 years).
  6. Operationalization of the African Charter on Popular rights to develop civic awareness on responsibilities – Unbeknownst to many, Kenya is actually party to the African Charter on Human & Popular Rights.

As per Article 27: Duty of care must be exercised by every individual towards his family, society, the state, the international community and other legally mandated communities. Rights and Freedoms of each individual will be exercised with due regard to those of others.

Article 28: Mutual Respect and tolerance devoid of discrimination is our way of life.

Article 29: Preservation of the harmonious development of the family, respect for parents and maintenance in times of need.

  • Have yourself at the disposal of state for service.
  • Never compromise the security of your state.
  • Strengthen and preserve national solidarity.
  • Protect territorial integrity and preserve national independence in accordance with existing law.
  • Work to the best of your abilities and remit taxes religiously for state benefit.
  • Help preserve positive African culture emphasizing dialogue, tolerance and consultation for the moral health of society.
  • Promote the attainment of African Unity.
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Political & Social Empowerment

BUILDING BRIDGES INITIATIVE DOCUMENT SERIALIZATION: CHAPTER 4 & 5

How did we get here?

I wrote this on a Previous Blog in May 2018 –

In most of 2017, Kenya mirrored the behavior exemplified by Abunuwas cutting a tree branch he was sitting on. After the January 30th 2018 swearing-in ceremony for the People’s President of The Republic of Kenya, Raila Odinga there seemed to be no way back. The fission looked complete. With two ‘Presidents’ installed in the same country, only fire and brimstone clouded the horizon. The fall-out from eons of neglected historical injustices, the bitterly yet closely contested election in August 2017 and the consequent brutality meted by state players on the opposition, the nullification of that entire process and the farcical fresh election seemed to have pushed us to the edge of the precipice. Battle lines had been drawn and positions entrenched so deeply the tension arising was virtually palpitating. In most households in the opposition strongholds, murmurs of secession were evident and poignant for all to see. And these sentiments were no doubt justified. Hateful rhetoric was spewed from all quarters and the same leaders who we elected as our symbols of unity, morphed to become the very wedge that was splitting asunder the gargantuan woody tree representing what we have learnt to call our motherland, Kenya. Dubious and quite shady characters; some purporting to be members of some ‘business community’, were co-opted on an inexplicable basis to militantly protect the interests of the majorly unpopular but imposed ‘majority’. Polarization was the order of the day and like a living cell that is in the Telophase stage, a seismic split was definitely on the cards. Then the seemingly unexpected happened, an anticlimax of sorts. On the 9th of March 2018, a meeting was secretly concocted at the President’s Office between him and his bitter rival catching both ally and foe speechless. The aftermath of the meeting was an unexpected handshake between the bitter antagonists and a cessation of hostilities.

[ https://dennismukoya.co.ke/wp/blog/2018/05/06/what-the-handshake-between-uhuru-and-raila-must-portend/ ]

This was the beginning of the Building Bridges Initiative which seeks to take advantage of the cooling of existing tensions between the antagonizing fronts to create space for national dialogue and sort out the issues that have eternally threatened to split Kenya into smithereens every time a General Election is called, putting us on a needless warpath with our erstwhile good neighbours. For nearly one and a half years the taskforce for the implementation has been working on developing the problem statements and county to county traversing to ask the citizenry of the major issues that bedevil them seeking for a panacea to the ills that impede our nationhood and the prospect of every citizen avowing pride to be a Kenyan. This document urges Kenyans to make the deliberate jump from merely being a nation united by blood ties to a body that finds concord in aspiring to a set of predefined values and mutually satisfactory ideals. This can only be achieved by amending the injurious sections of the 2010 constitution while adding new elements and call for greater seriousness in enforcing the culture of constitutionalism by the relevant authorities.

CHAPTER 4: ENDING ETHNIC ANTAGONISM AS BOTH A CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE OF POLITICAL COMPETITION

A supporter of National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Diversity is a beautiful thing. The Almighty in his infinite wisdom made every person though similar in form and shape but unique in his/her own way. However, in Kenya diversity has turned out to be our Achilles’ heel. First it begins with innocuous taunts over long-standing ethnic stereotypes, developed over many years of folklore and interaction with neighbouring communities. Unfortunately, this morphs into actual contempt, insults, frayed emotions, injured egos and ultimately outright brawls. When the strife for resources like jobs, prosperity in business, prime residential & commercial real estate, multi-million shilling government tenders becomes a function of belonging to a particular group – either by default or design, then inevitably conflict must result. Political power invariably pours fuel into this powder keg. Diversity is meant to be celebrated and enhanced. If we continue finding sadistic pleasure in spreading hatred then we are merely setting the stage for shared doom. Even the current benefactors of this state of affairs will lose, even to the interminable, transcendental generations after theirs.

Strife for resources and clout are a natural phenomenon. Kenya is consisted of a multiplicity of ancient nations, linguistically diverse, culturally rich with variance in models of governance and dispute resolution. With time these nations learnt to exist side by side and even wrought mechanisms for regulation and solution of cross-border conflict. Unfortunately with the advent of colonialism, came the winner take all system and belief that ‘might is right’ using state machinery as a tool for disenfranchisement and oppression. We inherited this rottenness and sharpened it to brutal levels at the attainment of independence. This is at variance with our traditional consensus-led model for political and social dispute resolution. Politics here has consequently mutated to an ethnic census where the winner takes all in absolute disdain to our cultures of yore. We are denied capable stewards with a strong, national vision to rally us to shared prosperity. The result is pettiness, insincerity and leaders keen to create dog-whistles that only work to resonate to our primal instincts, pitting ‘us’ against ‘them’. The result of all this is seldom peace and prosperity. Group antagonism due to the tribe, family ties, religion, familiarity, friendship, clans, race among other considerations is ultimately to the bane of us all. Regional Integration with our neighbouring countries is one means to escape this insidious descent into anarchy. Political Federation into the East African Community will stop in its tracks this phantom of tribalism as the parochial ethnic politics of today will find no space in a greater community as the tribes become only a minority stirred into our soup of the East African Community. Sovereignty will only be short-lived before we join each other legally, policy-wise and administratively.

The Recommendations reached to end our needless ethnic antagonism include:

  1. Build & Enhance ties that bind us as opposed to rifts – From a young age everyone will be incentivized to respect ethnic and religious diversity. This principle will have its physical manifestation in public service constitutionally stipulated. School curriculums will be enthralled to feature compulsory courses on history, cultural & religious diversity as these attributes’ interlink with the practice of constitutionalism. Additionally, public boarding secondary schools will be compelled to have not less than 50% of the student body from outside counties. The National Museum Society will forthwith be compelled to showcase without diminishing importance, the cultural diversity of Kenya. Cultural Centres will henceforth become a feature of every county.
  2. Scrap forthwith the ‘winner-take-all’ model for Presidency, opting instead for a more consociational (power-sharing) model that thrives for ethnically-divided societies – Many a hopeless romantic have regaled their damsels with tales of giving them the moon, in absolute disregard to the obvious reservations with what then will illuminate the path for the rest of us at night! Madness that is quintessential of romance notwithstanding, this is the same question that Kenyans have asked for eon – If the winner takes all, what becomes of the loser? Going forward, we are urged to be more consensus-oriented as opposed to appealing to our ethnicities as our primary mode of political competition. This will sound a death-knell to the archetypal do-or-die style of politics that is endemic of our societies today. The Executive (Cabinet) should reflect the face of Kenya highlighting the political will of the nation and not lean heavily on the President’s region of extraction in the guise of coaxing loyalty merely by aboriginal association.
  3. Resource distribution should be fair with this impartiality trickling down to the grassroots – All Kenyans should be deemed equal in resource allocation. The per capita share of national resources inclusive of healthcare provision, agricultural dividends, social services, natural resources and access to livelihood opportunities has to be equitable and guaranteed to every citizen of the Republic of Kenya. An Equalization fund should be set up to ensure those previously or currently being marginalized are given extra support to come up to speed with the rest of the nation. Institutions mandated with resource distribution should report their work clearly, periodically, without withholding information or erasure to all Kenyans.
  4. Committee of Elder Statesmen (Baraza la Washauri) – In cognizance of the President as our national symbol of unity, he should benefit from the advice of eminent, experienced and venerable citizens serving in a Council of Advisors as pro-bono consultants.
  5. Accelerate Regional Integration – a means to escape the diabolically interminable cycle of ethnic political competition by federation with our neighbouring countries. To the uninitiated, The East African Community Treaty is already part of our Laws and Government. Political and economic federation is the ultimate aim of EAC. Federation will result in the major tribal groupings of Kenya merely being reduced to minorities within a Federated nation which is much welcome.
  6. Institutionalization of Agenda-based politics by National Political Parties – All Political parties will be compelled to reflect the Face of Kenya in Ethnic, religious, regional and most importantly gender terms. A dearth in the level of refereeing; the term referee here alluding to the Registrar of Political parties, has resulted in the chaos we now witness in the name of democracy. Going forward, we seek a financially and ethically strong, assertive, independent and proactive Office with regard to political party registration. It’s appalling that since the establishment of this ostensibly august office in 2007, it has lacked a substantive Registrar in absolute breach of not just our constitutional order but also the Political Parties Act. As a deserving gift to an audacious new Kenya, we need to recruit and appoint a substantive registrar; in so doing maintaining the position in future with a keen eye on the stipulations of Functions of the Chairperson of a Chapter 15 commission. A new office empowered to monitor the implementation of the Political Parties’ Code of Conduct and sanctioning those who flout it.

CHAPTER 5: DIVISIVE ELECTIONS

It’s an open secret that Kenya’s glaring failure is understood even internationally to be in her governance and the poor leaders that our weak system churns out. Conflict is the hue that colours our political contests every 5 years interrupting almost every facet of life. We have a crude, adversarial system devoid of any middle-ground as it’s ‘us’ versus ‘them’, albeit Angels versus Demons tags to our contests. This is worse for the Presidential race, whose contestation more often than not is the major source of these destabilizing elections. This current status quo ensures that every five-year period we morph into gladiators for our ethnic identities, fighting it out with our good neighbours for no other reason than our candidate versus yours. The desire for inclusivity fuels this quandary as access to resources has for eon been primitively attached at the hip to whoever gets the presidency. The perception of personal gain from being the clients of a successful political leader means that as a populace we become ready to pull all stops for a victory. This is in antipathy to us being 7 years into the era of devolution, where resource allocation was supposed to be decentralized. Consequently, as other nations seek to bake bigger cakes, Kenya is trapped in the loop of trying to share the little that is available. Going forward, we need an election that guarantees peace, economic stability, personal security and an opportunity to fete meritocracy. This can only be secured by an end to the winner-takes-all system of leadership to stop the exclusion of other taxpayers from state largesse. As we have seen with the 7 years of Jubilee Party, even where the winner appoints members of other tribes to his own Cabinet including the losing side; more often than not, tokenism is the only thing in play rather than meaningful expressions of genuine goodwill.

In the past, before the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, we elected our Presidents through a plurality system in which a winning candidate had to secure a simple majority in universal suffrage with at least 25% of the mandate from 5 of our 8 former provinces. This yardstick obviously did not pass muster with instances like the 1992 election where despite the benefit of government machinery consequent to incumbency, Daniel T. Arap Moi still managed a paltry 36.6% of the national vote. The current system raised the threshold to 50%+1 with a provision for a run-off if the leading candidate during the first election does not meet this exceedingly high threshold. This has only whet universal appetite for greater representation of their political interests in the executive. Not just that, but Kenyans have demanded for greater social and political accountability from their leaders at the high table of both county and national government. A do-or-die dimension to our presidential contests have seen extreme skepticism and mistrust of the electoral process. It is no secret that the quest for victory in the national elections has seen the major players even resorting to uncouth tactics like outright rigging of the polls and sometimes even the rejection of credible results. There are seldom winners’ medals for the Electoral body no matter how good a job they do as the opposing side will always cry foul in such highly charged contests.

Prima-facie, the Kenyan Government purports to have equality and equity in governance and distribution of national resources. While the law attempts to deliver oversight necessary to achieve this, high-level corruption suggests that officeholders still exercise a level of discretion that is vulnerable to abuse and ostracism of other Kenyans. Moreover, Kenyans have noted that few communities have ever had a chance to have their kinsman at Statehouse as Presidential Elections in Kenya are oft an ethnic census. The BBI puts great emphasis on strong, multi-ethnic and nationwide parties that permit leaders of stature to grow no matter their tribal inclination. The desire for greater inclusivity, equality, fairness, equity and accountability was observed among most Kenyans. It has proven a stumbling block for a political class that owes oodles to tribalism as a rallying call for them to turn round and cultivate the political will to downgrade its importance. Certainly, this can be only achieved by concerted efforts by enlightened and determined leadership able to shift this paradigm, by so doing, lay the foundations for stable, ideology-based politics for future generations. In the antiquated dispensation, size & inefficiency of government contributed to this current debate. Equally useful to bear in mind, a model that works for Kenya must entail a cohesive and strong leadership cadre that assures of decisiveness at critical times without the paralysis induced by bureaucratic sibling rivalry courtesy of ill-defined constitutional parameters open to double-entendre style misinterpretation by diverse opinion holders.

The recommendations to sort out this conundrum include:

i) An autochthonous (homegrown) National Executive – Since independence, we have experimented with the three major Western models to the Executive. Circa 1963-64, we had a pure Parliamentary system; moving onto the Hybrid semi-presidential system between 1964 – 2007 which was an abject failure. Between 2008 -2013 we tried Hybrid Cohabitation that proved a slight improvement but ballooned the government wage bill. After 2013, we have experimented with the Pure Presidential system that has been abysmal to put it generously and an utter farce as far as the actual state of affairs is concerned. A homegrown inclusive system is now sought as we had in pre-colonial times. Kenyans want a system to guarantee not just a strong President for decisive leadership, but also an accountable Parliament. Not in the least, a strong opposition is needed to offer checks and balances to the government of the day.

-The President will continue being elected under the strictures of the 2010 constitution. He remains as Head of State, Government and Commander-in-Chief. He will Chair a Cabinet consisting of the Deputy President, Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers. He retains the 2 term limit.

-A new feature of this pristine system is the reintroduction of the Prime Minister. Within a stipulated period after an election, the President shall appoint a PM. He will be an elected Member of the National Assembly from a party with a majority of members and will be forced to canvass for the seat among his colleagues to gain the support of an absolute majority of them. Parliamentary approval will be mandatory in an absolute vote.

Afterwards, his roles will include:

  • Authority over control, supervision and execution of the day to day functions of Government.
  • Leader of government business in the National Assembly.
  • Chair of Cabinet sub-committees on presidential prodding.

He/she will earn a normal MPs salary with none additional to his role. Additionally, this appointee may be dismissed in case of a vote of no confidence.

-The Seat of Leader of Official Opposition will make a comeback, this person being the runner-up of the Presidential Election. He will be an ex-officio Member of Parliament. The holder of this position will have no presence in government by being a coalition member with the winning party or individually. This individual shall have his shadow cabinet. During a prescribed Question time, the opposition will play a key role in putting a PM and Government Ministers to task over their dockets.

-Principal Secretaries will be free from parliamentary approval as their accountability will be strictly administrative and technical.

ii) A Mixed Cabinet – It’s still up for decision whether to go the American way: With technocrats or Our old British way: with MPs. The Members will be appointed in consultation with the PM. They will be a mix of technocrats & Politicians. A Minister of State will be tasked with shepherding the political and parliamentary accountability side of things. The Position of Cabinet Administrative Secretary to be scrapped.

iii) Popular Representation – It is to be upheld through free, fair & transparent systems. The principle of equalization of representation shall reign supreme as the Gender rule and other measures of inclusion are enforced. All 290 constituencies will be retained. We will have 360 members each elected by registered voters from both the 290 constituencies and 70 more from single & multiple-member constituencies. We will have a Senate with 94 members, a man and woman nominated from each county.

Independent candidates will continue to contest. Devolution of political parties will be urged to the counties with political fora to hold elected leaders accountable throughout their term. Nomination lists will be completed transparently overseen by the Registrar of Political Parties and IEBC.

iv) The Referee Body – Leaders of Political Parties will have a say on the recruitment of the Head of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and their fellow commissioners. Non-partisanship is greatly encouraged, with a sound record of accomplishment and integrity. Known political activists and supporters of political parties will be shunned. All IEBC staff henceforth should be appointed on 3-year contracts renewable only once for good performance. This will end the culture of error propagation to the next team. Returning Officers are to be hired through a competitive process and basis for appointments be available explicitly, handling only one election.

Any person with at least 15 years of management experience is urged to throw his/her hat into the ring for appointment as Chairman of IEBC. It should no longer be the preserve of ‘learned friends’! However, at least one commissioner should be a Lawyer. The composition of Electoral Commission must reflect the face of Kenya. Provisions enshrined under Article 86 of the current Constitution regarding simplicity, security, accountability and transparency of the voting process still remain.

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Political & Social Empowerment

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Political & Social Empowerment

KENYA IS SUFFERING ITS GREAT ECONOMIC DEPRESSION

KENYA-COURT-POLITICS-DEMOAccording to the Biblical book of Revelations Chapter 21:8 – The fearful, faithless, abominable, murderers, whore-mongers (pimps), sorcerers, adulterers, idolaters and  liars will meritoriously have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Adding From Luke 13:28-29 – People will appear from all directions to recline at the table in the Kingdom of God. Many that enjoyed themselves during their short sojourn on earth reveling in their perversion but will find themselves weeping and gnashing their teeth, when they will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets in heavenly glory and comfort but themselves cast out! But I digress. Many Kenyans, even those apparently strong in faith will read these passages in the Bible and ask themselves if there is really any other hell worse than their current predicament!

But this suffering all seems well deserved. Allow me to indulge you. None put it better than the American Ben Carson, the World-renowned neurosurgeon and author turned politician during his visit to Kenya when he uttered, “Choices have consequences.” This was an indirect jibe in relation to the wildly unpopular election victory, more like state capture by then ICC-indicted duo of Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto; this undisguisable millstone around their necks, notwithstanding. Quick on his feet, the new national supremo; Uhuru Kenyatta, fired back opining that the challenges facing his partner-in-government and himself were personal and wouldn’t in any way affect their service delivery or mandate to the adoring throngs that ‘elected’ them overwhelmingly. Those who didn’t elect this duo knew better but as democratic tenets dictate, ‘the majority have their way, the minority their say.’ Then, among the supporters of this duopoly was great dancing and cheer. However, I enthuse you to now show me but one honest person celebrating their good fortune consequent to tragedy that has been the Jubilee Party in government.

Allow me to paint a little background. In early 2008, Kenya was engulfed in the throes of post-election violence sparked off by a bungled election where a clear leader in the early poll results had surprisingly and narrowly lost the election by a flurry of ‘late’ albeit disproportionately favourable entries from strongholds of the early trailer that apparently had more voters than the total population of those regions! A hurried swearing-in ceremony was set-up at dusk and the incumbent H.E. Mwai Kibaki was sworn-in, in retrospect comically holding the Bible upside down! Feeling a clear sense of injustice and with a blocked avenue to legal recourse, the opposition strongholds erupted into a spontaneous frenzy of mass action by setting up fiery roadblocks in the middle of highways and creating all sorts of pandemonium. State machinery hit back to quell the riots but used inordinate force by opening fire on unarmed civilians in the opposition leaning areas. The situation was tense countrywide. In the defunct Rift valley province things went, for lack of a better word ‘ape!’ One tribe that had eternally arrogated themselves the title of natives of the region took up their bows, machetes, arrows and spears, going on a spree of evicting all other communities from their spheres of interest more so, the one of Mr. Mwai Kibaki’s ethnic stock. We all know of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – For Every Action is an equal and opposite reaction. Retaliatory attacks were forthcoming and in the aftermath of this all, a suspected figure of more than 1200 people lay lifeless while 500,000 more were internally displaced. Later a unity Government was formed between Kibaki and his begrudged foe Raila Odinga and from a collapsing economy Kenya picked itself up and back onto the horse of an economic surge akin to that it had enjoyed for most of the former’s first term. Wrangles abounded in the coalition government but for most part these always ended up getting smoothed over by the principals to the best interests of the Republic.

There was no audacity of hope that wafted from the two characters that contested the Presidency under the Jubilee coalition come 2013. These erstwhile foes who had worked together before found themselves in the same boat again buoyed by similar existential interests. Consequently, they had no other endearing quality to their populace other than remonstration against the International Criminal Courts by their respective ethnic groupings and creating a narrative of being singled out for needless persecution, coercion out of politics and possible neo-colonialization of their masses. Two tribes ganged behind their sons and willed them on to high office merely to pervert the course of justice for the internally displaced, tortured, murdered and raped. A bromance was brewed between two guys previously at opposite sides of the spectrum that had a rapt following of their kinsmen willing them on. The World seemed to be going crazy and all strictures of logic were ostensibly thrown out of the window. But behind the scenes another group with sinister motives was forming. This was a group of schemers and connivers who knew what nobody else had an inkling of! They were sure that despite the massive following enjoyed by the then Prime Minister, these two upstarts would upstage him and take office by whatever means possible. So they worried themselves not. They simply went through the motions tirelessly behind the shadows paying fealty, fund-raising and creating a massive-propaganda campaign to get the aptly named ‘team-fresh’ elected. They knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that their pay-day was coming by cashing in on the green-horns of statecraft that was to be the incoming sprightly leadership. Against the will of the majority and to the great chagrin of many Kenyans, this seemingly wide-eyed duo usurped national leadership at the First Round of Voting with a suspicious 50%+8000. The winner took it all!

After this twosome had taken their respective Oaths of Office as the 4th President and First Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, it was time to literally divide the spoils of war among those who had been loyal to the cause of TNA and URP. This was done in absolute disregard to the ethnic composition of Kenya and majorly favoured the two tribes where the President and his Deputy hailed. The remaining offal was distributed disproportionately among what for the lack of a better phrase will describe as the ‘scum of Kenya’ from among the opposition-leaning tribes that had elected to betray their kinsmen in support of Jubilee. The discord this created in the national psyche in addition to the ‘twins’ at statehouse choosing to honour their respective dates at the ICC at great inconvenience to the nation resulted in an economy in turmoil. But if there is something that I can pay adulation to the Jubilee government is being adroit at the use of the Public Relation machine at their disposal. They eternally worked in concord with state aficionados to create a rosy outlook of the initiatives of the government of the day in absolute variance to the reality on the ground.

The wheeler-dealers aforementioned who now worked as Principal Secretaries and Chairmen of State departments took advantage of the naivety and incompetence at the top to virtually loot the statutory bodies they were mandated to oversee. A dearth in accountability occasioned first, by State officials neither being answerable to anybody in particular nor filling-in wealth declaration forms prior to taking up office and secondly making a norm out of invoking the name of the opposition leader for blame and possible ‘circumcision’ each time they were caught in the throes of anguish pertaining to fingers firmly stuck in the cookie jar! Flexing of their newly-acquired muscle of state became the new sport as mismanagement gained prominence as the by-word in most institutions where embezzlement and mismatching of skills due to favouritism, were the temple at which they all worshipped. Tribalism was exalted, all the while veiled to create an impression of a leader only innocently keen to hire those he could trust but malevolently punishing the tribes that didn’t vote for him. Corruption and weak payroll management systems yielded ghost-workers giving rise to a new financial elite of civil servants who benefited from double payment cashing in on unaccounted dead colleagues in the payroll. Irreverence knows no limits. The injudicious culture of expending borrowed money based on expected future earnings to supplant it, has become engrained among the government elite. When government spends more than it earns through taxation it is only emblematic of an attitude of minimal prudence in financial management. The state was regressing from the gains made in the two decades of multiparty politics in Kenya, but who could possibly dare tell that to two autocrats who rode roughshod into statehouse on the back of injustice and coercion of state machinery?

Ultimately all that is done in darkness must come to light, all that is hidden must in due course become manifest to multitudes. After Uhuru Kenyatta secured his 2nd Term and sought to grab the opportunity to build a legacy he had lost in his first term he took a hardline stance against graft. After making peace with the People’s President; Raila Odinga, thereby earning back the legitimacy to run state, there was nowhere to hide for the guilty and ploys to distract popular attention away from their misdeeds were all foiled. It has now come to light that Kenya is in dire straits economically. Taking loans for infrastructural development devoid of a Kenyan-led feasibility study and plans for consequent Return on Investment are now biting hard on our economy. In the early days of the Jubilee regime, Kenya floated a facility in the temperate climes known as Eurobond that on maturity was supposed to be used as a supplementary tool for bolstering our economic prospects and government spending. Evidence is clear that on maturity, the impact of that sovereign bond acquired on behalf of the sovereignty; which is the People of Kenya, has been stolen and deposited in the private bank accounts of the well-to-do in the higher echelons of state. It has also become poignant that the erstwhile blue-eyed boy of the Jubilee Government that had for six years survived as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mr. Henry Rotich was in concert with his Principal secretary and in a small way the entirely vestigial Cabinet Administrative Secretary engaging in the practice of ‘Creative Accounting’ derogatorily referred to as ‘cooking the books’. This is creation of parallel books of accounts for budgeting purposes. One bears the authentic picture of the state of the economy while the other one is used merely to hoodwink the public, a vacuous PR entry! As this was done, behind the scenes was a vermin-like frenzy of eating by those state officers that has worked to eviscerate the state of whatever was left of the Kenyan economic prospects. The public may be ignorant enough to be fooled by sideshows but how do you explain the state not being able to pay its suppliers for goods and services for months on end? How do you explain the forced austerity measures by none other than the Head of State himself in contravention to the previously panegyrized healthy run of the national economy? Can you really wish away late salaries for civil servants with just an excuse of minor aberrations in the computer systems used in the disbursement of funds at treasury? How do you substantiate on the presidential directive to freeze all state projects despite our new economic boon borne out of the revenue from the SGR railway?

Even blind Bartimeus can perceive the economy is no longer liquid! You cannot gloss away cash-flow in a state of ebb. It is not lost on anyone, the closure of many businesses that have previously been thriving in Kenya partly or wholly dependent on doing business with government. Small and Medium Enterprises that were propping up the economy are now closing by the droves. Foreign investment is almost drying up as those that were initially attracted by the investment-friendly economic climate this side of the Sahara now find themselves without prompting being edged out of the market and are now in a life-death battle to stay afloat. They invariably are taking their businesses to fiscally friendlier African nations at our expense. Our economic prospects are abysmal to put it mildly. Don’t even mention companies retrenching and offering redundancy statements to their employees. Now it’s becoming apparent you cannot expect beans from an orchard! Lack of fiscal discipline symptomized by unrestrained borrowing and minimal frugality on expenditure once the funds have been obtained is now Kenya’s achilles heel. The monumental national friction created by UhuRuto’s ascent to power against the ‘vox-populi’ meant that they had to hire more politicians to the executive for fire-fighting purposes as opposed to prudent practice of head-hunting the requisite technocrat economists or professionals from other cadres to steady their ship. Immoral as it is, failed politicians now ask ordinary citizens to pick up the tab for their malfeasance, no doubt a case study in kakistocracy. Not to forget the interest rate caps on financial institutions like banks that has seen these creditors become risk averse, denying entrepreneurs the much needed lucre to remain afloat. Even before these new pressures, it was already hard enough to own a start-up business in Kenya as statistics clearly show that 90% of them fold before their 3rd birthday!

Uhuru Kenyatta has now adopted an anachronistic policy of hiring antiquated men and women, veterans of eons past, most of them the actual home guards who were the principal beneficiaries of our strife for independence. This in my view is pedantic at best but escapist and diversionary at worst. It is just a refusal to admit the obvious that anybody who had any concern for the best interest of Kenya and is anthemically patriotic could never in a million years think of supporting the Jubilee party. This directly means that if the President had a sagacious team around him, they would have enlightened him on the virtues of magnanimity. This loosely translates to against all odds, extending an olive-branch to the section of the populace which bitterly opposed his candidature and eventual ascent into office. I mean the youth in the informal settlements that were on-call to engage in running battles with the police day and night merely for the noble ideal that is democracy. Many of them as is with the rank and file of the Kenyan population are highly-skilled, educated and intelligent and so would easily have run these state departments in the way that glorifies our heritage of splendour. The result of his peccadillo is evident for all to see. Young men and women equally highly educated and edified on their respective areas of expertise but severely lacking in integrity, professional ethics, patriotism, nobility, temperance, any scintilla of self-control and pay homage to the god of privilege. This is clear from a former governor, now graduated to a well-connected state functionary that goes around boasting smug satisfaction of being, “ the perceptive fly that drowns in a glass of milk while the other daft ones die entombed in a mound of feacal matter invoking the bally-hoo of patriotism.” The thieving brigade of young-turks have ended up greatly embarrassing the President to such an extent that his pandering to the youth agenda appears to be dead in the water. Look at an institution like N.H.I.F where the youth got a chance to serve as C.E.O at the dawn of the Jubilee government. But these cretins have mucked it up for the rest by allowing funds that are painfully truncated every month from the meagre salaries of the hoi-polloi to end up being pilfered to building castles for junior officials some up to 200 million shillings in value! I will not engage in the activity of underscoring the importance of health insurance to the human resource that builds Kenya, for I may end up in a hissy fit and to no one’s benefit! The conflux of our political leadership are professional con-artists cavorting as pastors, drug-mules, snake-oil salesmen, pathological gamblers, ‘reformed criminals’, louts, touts, the aforementioned whore-mongers in paragraph 1, concubines of major party leaders and the tapestry that consists the grime of this world. Kenya’s pointer to being a nation in economic recession is the fact that you can call a rally in midweek which is decently attended pointing to crunching unemployment, economic disenfranchisement, deleterious hopelessness and the reality of the working poor.

But you would ask me what options remain for the down-trodden who have suffered the brunt of Kenya’s economic downturn:

  • For those who can afford it, time is ripe to start exploring opportunities outside our borders. Many youth find themselves bound by the shackles of unemployment, lack the tools for self-actualization and capital deficiency that make their dire fortunes increasingly miserable. For those who can, get the much vaunted ‘Green Card’ to the United States, alternatively move to Australia or England as either expatriates or even execute tasks the natives of those countries refuse to perform because someone has to do it, where your skill-set and competence will be rewarded at a premium as opposed to Kenya where your youthfulness is only misused as canon-fodder for inordinate violence that only adds peril to your survival.
  • Hope that the newly launched BBI will entail an economic stimulus package for the vulnerable in society. Investment in sports, culture and basically just entry-level job creation for the youth will do wonders to ameliorate our economic prospects.
  • Historically, during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office in the midst of a crippling recession in the United States of America, his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. That is self-explanatory. As Kenyans we should be keen to support our President’s Big 4 Agenda for Kenyan prosperity.
  • Going forward, elect leaders not out of personal vendetta, youthful appearance or will to teach some nebulous dynasty somewhere a lesson! Instead take your time to read someone’s party manifesto and be keen to what ideology they espouse. Most importantly check-out your potential leader’s track record. You cannot re-elect men who escaped from prison and were fugitives until they bought freedom, have made wealth on the fringes of darkness or have stood on the docks on corruption charges and expect integrity and effective governance will be imbued unto them merely by your prayers. Let’s embrace the wisdom of learning from history so that we are not doomed to repeat it. The empirical definition of madness that also applies to foolishness is quixotically doing the same thing twice in similar fashion and expecting different results.
  • In the advent of the Great Depression, USA was the only industrialized country in the globe that did not boast some form of unemployment insurance or social security. Come 1935, Congress played its hand and passed the Social Security Act, which provided Americans with unemployment and disability security not forgetting pension for the aged. This could work for Kenya as African lives matter too!
  • There has never been a better time to abandon tribal-based politics and personality cults for ideological based stewardship. When Kibaki was elected in 2002, Kenyans were ranked among the most hopeful people in the world. This is because of the intrepidity of the future promised by a man who excelled in both academia and as a Finance minister winning the presidency. How is it that these same Kenyans turned to clueless individuals only selling the face of youth, new money and nothing else?
  • Wealth declaration and accountability in government is needed back.

In concluding remarks, all is not lost. Where there is a will there is a way. Just as long as you can find it and use it.

Categories
Political & Social Empowerment

A UNITED STATES OF AFRICA WILL BE BENEFICIAL TO US ALL

Africa The day was Tuesday, 27th July 2010. The African Union had convened for the 13th AU summit in Kampala, Uganda. The rotational Chairman for the year was longtime brother leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the supremo Col. Muammar Abu Minyar Gaddafi (معمر محمد أبو منيار القذافي‎). When he stood up to speak of course there were murmurs but his charisma that has eternally enamoured him to a great section of that audience ensured they lent him an ear. He spoke about the need for a United States of Africa. Some thought that it was just a digression from his topic for the day but on he rumbled. As a political theorist, he had run the scenario through his mind several times and was convinced of its practicability. Not just that. He had personally commissioned a study of the government structures, the needs of the populace there and basically a feasibility study on the practicalities of a United African State. He spoke passionately as only he could on an ideal so dear to his heart. Listening to that speech almost a decade later prompts the question: Is a United African State practicable or was Muammar Gaddafi still the nice but terribly naïve boy as described in 1969 by his political hero and mentor – Gamal Abdel Nasser, Former President of Egypt? Were these just the rantings and ravings of a madman whose credibility as a statesman was slowly being eroded? Maybe! Naïveté was excusable in the autumn of 1969 as he was only a 27-year-old Bedouin lad of humble extraction, newly graduated from the Libyan Royal Military Academy in Benghazi with hardly a few years’ experience under his belt when he usurped power. Achievability is in conjecture but the need for United African State is without a shadow of a doubt.

Col. (Rtd) Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi – Brotherly Guide & Leader of the Revolution of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Besides, he was merely echoing the sentiments of great leaders of the negritude movement in years gone by Léopold Sédar Senghor, Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah. Though humble and unassuming, these men only sought to search for some appreciation for the black man whose boundless energy and unbridled wit had been the cornerstone of many a civilization. Looking at the Pyramids of Egypt, the temple at Aksum, the University at Timbuktu and no doubt the enlistment of our slave labour at the peak of the European industrial revolution, you can never doubt the Blackman’s contribution to global civilization. But the question here is: where does the black race rank among the shareholders for this great initiative? The black race was enlisted as labour when the white men ‘discovered’ new lands and conquered the natives, of course after weakening them with previously unheralded infections like yellow fever and bubonic plague they were ill-accustomed to recuperate from. The point Gaddafi was hammering home was that as Africans, we could form mutually associative states headed by one president. This is because we all share a common heritage of strife against soul-sapping slavery, bone-crushing colonization and the expropriationate regime of political and pecuniary uncertainty birthed by the post-colonial epoch. This all stems from the need to right all wrongs and make up for the lost time, natural resources and basically stand toe to toe with the rest of humanity with regards to what we have been taught to be civilization. Precolonial Africa had no boundaries, where travel, intermarriage, trade and pilgrimage was conducted across open borders. The incursion of European powers playing their divide-and-rule game muddled up our equation for unity and for their benefit. Not only were artificial frontiers drawn up to demarcate the particular European power’s spheres of influence as nation-states but ethnic divisions were also made rife by the introduction of capitalism as opposed to our traditional way of life.

Though already resisted by many of the so-called African ‘strongmen’ who cite issues of sovereignty as their major remonstration with a united African front. However, most of these are the same characters who run to European and Southern Asian powers with begging bowls to fund projects without feasibility studies, after which they are left with white elephants having been ‘blessed’ with kickbacks from the same. That an African president has the audacity to wear crocodile-skin shoes worth $100,000 when his populace majorly consists of starving women and children, people using logs as bridges across rivers, unemployment is rife and men are drowning in the flash-floods immediately after a famine-inducing drought speaks volumes about a leader that has lost not just credibility but the commonsensical nous to still be taken seriously when they voice any reservations. Some had been the principal benefactors of the instability in their countries and as expected will want that situation to continue ad-infinitum. What is sovereignty, when that only means allowing grown men to kill each other over livestock in the 21st Century?

But to see the benefits of an intercontinental concord you only need to cast your eyes across the ocean to the United States of America. Needless to say, the United States achieved modern-day superpower status on the back of its states’ unity. This status was not achieved by happenstance, hell no! It is a consequence of concerted and deliberate action towards unanimity of purpose that is now bearing fruit. Before the unilateral declaration of independence in 1776; the USA was just an ordinary conglomeration of colonies, an inadvertent victim of white greed and their supremacist agenda. Britain, Spain, France and to a small extent the Netherlands had taken up spheres of interest in the region. The settlers who had made the long trip from Western Europe no doubt spoke different languages. But the descendants of these initial settlers gradually began feeling disenfranchised by the selfish agenda birthed in Europe that not only failed to resonate with their best interests but also sucked the rhetorical udders of ‘Mother North America’ dry with nothing in return. They decided to wage a war of independence against their kinsmen from across the big pond. After successfully driving out European powers, they found themselves a group of 50 odd, disparate regions straddling their continental landmass. The Northern states were the first to see the need for unity and formed a confederation. The Southern states that were previously viewed as backward, conservative and rural were initially reluctant. But ultimately the need for unity was backed by the merits of it and ultimately it was attained. Other states were actually coerced into the union as a consequence of defeat in the American Civil War and purchases of other territories from Spain and France but that may be a story for another day.

Additionally, the States of America united as they tapped into their collective identities. Harsh winters are definitely at a premium and the annual hurricanes are still a fixture in no dissimilitude to then as they wreaked havoc intermittently onto continental North America, even then in the 19th Century. Woe on you if you are a coastal community! Assuming that those states devastated by hurricanes annually stood as independent nations, it is beyond a shadow of doubt they would inimically have suffered financial ruin to add to the crippling loss of human life and morale. In the absence of the cushion that is the unified federal government, they would each individually have had to face the vicissitudes of their circumstances.

Looking at G.D.P figures of the individual states, some fare worse than many African countries! Collect your jaws from the floor as I am also equally stupefied. Some of these states are largely rural communities that depend entirely on agriculture for revenue and hewing lumber for building material and fuel. It is then no surprise that whole houses are usually uprooted by the vagaries of foul weather! The State of California has arguably the biggest G.D.P of the United States that is 14.5% of the national total. This is incomparable with the trailing states like Wyoming, Mississippi and Vermont. In 2018 these less capitalized states had an annual contribution to the US economy; according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis of 39 billion, 115 billion and 34 billion US dollars respectively. These compare almost favourably with middle-income African countries like Kenya who according to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics had just under 75 Billion USD. This means that if for instance lowly Kenya was part of the confederation as an individual state, we would have ranked at a slightly impressive position 45 out of the 55 States considered as territories of USA. Not to be underestimated in the absence of their concinnity, would have been the potential shortfall in revenue generation required to fund an individual American state and probably its attendant burgeoning numbers of state officers. The overarching lesson from this is that America has benefited from the divergent contribution of its individual states to enjoy a total G.D.P of 21 Trillion USD. This is a valuable pointer as to the great value Africa would glean from unity.

This stratification according to states has enabled the USA to have states that specialize in the various facets of life i.e there are those with the best institution of Higher learning like Massachusetts that hosts both the ivy-league M.I.T & Harvard Universities.  Others have the best Medical institutions, the biggest oilfields, gold mines and resource-specific zoning. Consequently, U.S.A has primed itself to become the most advanced individual nation on earth to the extent of even playing the prefect role over others. Their strength in numbers not only affords the U.S a greater purchasing power but the propensity for influence over other nations. The United States currently boasts arguably the strongest army of any nation ever on earth. Diabolically, this power has been used to disproportionately hold countries to ransom, arm-twisting them and even enforcing embargoes that have proven crushing to regimes that are majorly dependent on the might of the Stars and Stripes.

But the question here remains, what benefits could Africa actually glean from a United Confederation of African States:

  • Perhaps the greatest benefit of an African Federation would be dealing a death knell to the culture of dependence on hand-outs and conditional grants that has consistently impoverished Africa. Despite bringing Christianity, cloth and rum to us, the European is not by any measure of the word a ‘good man’. It is a tragedy that the Continent of the proud and the strong is held in so much subservience and derision in foreign missions as merely one of connoisseurs in holding the beggar’s bowl then fritter the collections in vain shows of ostentatiousness. We have also laid ourselves vulnerable to acts of malicious sabotage. It should not be lost on anyone, the retribution that France inflicted upon Haiti consequent to Toussaint Louverture’s & J.J. Desalline’s embarrassing victory over the French and slavery leading to subsequent emancipation of the black population on that Island. Emperor Napoleon in a murderous rage swore vengeance upon Haiti and cut off commercial ties with the nation. He also broadcasted his malevolent propaganda against them to everyone else, so that the whole world virtually shunned the small island-nation. As a direct consequence, what was once the epicentre of the world sugar trade crumbled into nothingness such that Haiti is now more renowned as a dust-pan than a once-upon-a-time theatre of the biggest triumph that any slave community in the world has won against their master! This story is poignant to Africa as Haiti is more or less an African nation in the diaspora wholly consisted of populations that were extracted from the plains of Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Congo and Niger into a life of hardship and servitude in the cane plantations of a region formerly referred to as San Domingue. The fear of similar treatment; i.e victimization has for an eon coerced former colonial territories of European powers into MOUs and trade deals that only benefit our neocolonialist Caucasian overlords.
  • For many years our relationship with our trading partners abroad has been majorly exploitative. They avail us some financial bail-out funds but in return cart away our pristine and valuable natural resources including precious minerals namely gold, diamonds, iron, rubies, copper, uranium, oil and Coltan among others. We also lose our natural forests, marine life, fresh-water lakes and ancestral land for virtually a song! In recent years the old colonial masters are slowly being replaced by the Chinese who glean our fields bare after availing loans ostensibly for infrastructural development. The loans are quite stringent and the uninitiated and greedy leaders often find themselves in a deer-in-headlights situation where they end up defaulting on loan repayments and ultimately have to handover their national amenities like ports, railway tracks and other important infrastructure. What if we did not take exploitative loans from the Chinese but instead mobilized funds from our respective appendages? Gaddafi had the idea of abandoning the strictures of international trade using dollars and sterling pounds and instead trade in Gold! Yes, Gold. How about that to cripple capitalism that is dealt to the vulnerable without a human face? Such a closing of ranks will help secure our sister, the Democratic Republic of Congo from the utter farce that has been her lopsided relationship with Belgium and France cavorting as international cooperation. DRC on its own merits has the potential to be by far the richest nation on Earth and even generate energy that can sustain all of Africa were its resources harnessed by a congenial consortium of African nations who understand the practicalities of being here. Indeed; for those not in the loop, the Uranium-235 used to develop the atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki & Hiroshima to bring the Second world war to a halt was obtained from the Shinkolobwe mines in Haut-Katanga Province on the Eastern frontier of then Belgian Congo (today’s DRC). All the Coltan that is irregularly spirited out of Congo by scummy connivers to Samsung, Nokia, Apple, Sony, Ideos and other phone manufacturers is enough to be a massive boon to our collective economy, if only the revenue acquired was repatriated back to our coffers. I will not belabor how much is made in mobile telephony and its penetration worldwide in spite of my professional expression as a Telecommunications professional. An African Federation will fix the DRC crisis once and for all. DRC has a resource potential to power and enrich all of Africa if only its compatriot states helped shield it from external, exploitative interference. We must open our eyes to the possibilities of what a bright future awaits us if only we could throw down the age-old shackles on our wrists, ankles & minds by taking up intercontinental trade on a massive scale. Imagine what we can do!
The Congo River slicing through the Congo Tropical Rainforest
  • A Pan-African System for Justice and Constitutional affairs will ultimately be one of the fruits of this union. In the words of current Kenyan President; Uhuru Kenyatta, “never again must a son of our soil be taken to foreign climes for trial by agents of neocolonialism and malice.” This was an overkill on his part but a Pan-African Centre for Judicial adjudication that takes into account our cultural heritage and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms will actually be a panacea to many of the ills that bedevil Africa. Africans have over the years not covered themselves in any sort of glory, portraying themselves to the world albeit incongruously as barbaric and blood-thirsty brutes. Methinks African unity will clean up this narrative as united, we will have the power to push an agenda that casts us all in positive light. Truth, Justice and Reconciliation commissions make reports on systemic abuse in many an African country but the results of these processes usually come a cropper, sacrificed at the altar of preserving the status-quo with national legal systems inexplicably explicating themselves from having the jurisdiction to deal with matters within the purview of their territorial boundaries. This quiescence in the face of evil will be forestalled by our autochthonous Pan-African Tribunal for Judicial adjudication.
  • In the backdrop of colonialism, many of the disparate African Nation-States began viewing each other with unwarranted suspicion. A melting of national boundaries will surely sort out this conundrum. Also the primitive culture in many nations that promotes discrimination in the form of nepotism, clannism, favouritism and tribalism will be buried and in its place sown the seeds of meritocracy, professionalism, ethical practice and progressive singularity of thought.
  • An African Confederation will safeguard homegrown investments and industries. Moreover, it will enhance effective use of shared resources, infrastructure and technology. It is deemed more feasible to engage a greater entity for trade rather than the small outfits that many of the current individual African republics are. For the risk of denigration, I will not mention any names instead reiterating that as a bigger body we will effectively harness our lines of supply and also have that market to make trade a worthwhile venture for us all. Additionally, discrimination will be a thing of the past as the youth will no longer have to journey across the algid, choppy waters of the Atlantic to get to Europe or travel abroad for menial labour dubbed as the ‘American-dream’ as within the borders of our tropical climes will be availed our very own African nirvana. We have witnessed incidences of companies with majority foreign ownership like SportPesa just on a whim deciding to pack up and leave in absolute disregard to the quagmire they leave behind. How is homegrown enterprise to ever take root if eternally we will be treated to imported goods and services?

  • Unity will realize a stronger GDP per Capita and enhance the cost of living for the citizens of Africa. Nigeria and South Africa individually enjoy much better GDPs of $444 Billion and $371 billion respectively but with South Africa enjoying a better GDP per Capita ratio. As aforementioned, many of the discrete states of the U.S.A are economically feeble. Infact, in echoing the derogatory parlance of greatly revered American comedian Eddie Griffins, “Many of these singular states are on their own merits broker than a mother-fxxxxx! People don’t live in Woodstock houses for nothing.” That is the reality. This will unfortunately continue to be our collective fate as African countries if we fail to forge this joint front.

This initiative will no doubt run into headwinds. One of those is goodwill to allow for a unified currency. Also we must eternally strive to avoid a ‘Tower of Babel’ situation where lack of a common language prevents us from a noble endeavour. The leader of the federation will need a judicious mind to be fair, situationally-aware and altruistic which is a foreign concept to many of our longtime strongmen. However, this is one concept that if properly handled will improve African bargaining power at the table of the big boys of the world power structure. Unity is strength. And the Americans will be none the wiser as they already think Africa is a Country anyway!

Categories
Political & Social Empowerment

CANCER IN KENYA: IS IT A NATURALLY OCCURRING EPIDERMIC OR A MAN-MADE CATASTROPHE?

Cancer in Kenya
Hon. Kenneth Okoth, MP for Kibra

Apparently the cost of disobedience at the Garden of Eden was steeper that anything Adam and Eve could ever have envisaged. Initially, man was created to be immortal and infallible just like the angels of the heavens but only better. He was created in God’s own image and was ostensibly meant to possess most of his limitless longevity, intelligence and basically drank straight from the fountain of youth. But the turning point was the provision for the freedom of choice. The caveat here was that any choices would ultimately precipitate consequences. The misfortune in all this is that humanity was created naïve to the wiles of the universe and ultimately fell prey to them. Retribution was heavy! This loosely translates to his stripping of divine health, free habitation in a sumptuous nirvana, know-how and worse of all that propensity to exist in perpetuity. While at the beginning everything was provided for by the supreme deity in the aftermath of our primordial parent’s transgressions life became a matter of struggle just as in the bestial realm, the survival of the fittest. So much for the much-touted freedom of conscience.

Many years ago the city lifestyle had not caught up with us. Food generated as a product of our arable activities was plentiful and sufficient to feed us all. The landscape was verdant and bucolic in appreciation of the splendor bestowed upon our land. Fruits and vegetables were in copious supply and the welfare of everyone was a communal affair. As populations were still small and urbanization had not spread far and wide, we still had the grace to enjoy the fresh air and pristinely sprung water straight from nature’s fountains untainted. Playgrounds were vast expanses of land where a young mind was accorded the freedom to run around, play and weave their imagination as far as the eye could perceive. Our ancient way of life was convivial and wholesome leading to strong and healthy individuals ready to take the bull called life by the horns when they came of age.

Then came the missionaries and European settlers who gave way to colonialism. This brought upon our indigenous communities the white man’s outlook of industrialization that got everyone in a damn hurry. Rural to urban migration became the modern reality. The Whiteman’s education destroyed the harmony of society as it promised corpulent rewards and blinding lights only to those willing to abandon the rural setting for the hustle and bustle of city life. But still our colonial masters maintained a semblance of organization and civility on how they went about planning of urban areas mainly with regards to reticulation, zoning regulations, utility supply and most importantly sewage disposal. The rustic and self-sufficient way of provincial life now gave way to the fast-paced and seemingly glistening yet subservient albeit tick-like dependent way of life in the city. After independence from our Caucasian overlords, was left upon us residual a legacy of capitalism and basically everyone for himself – God for us all! All open space was taken up by real estate. Haphazard cropping-up of infrastructure became the norm as city planning and zoning committees existed only on paper. Worse still, civil service was now seen as a way to personal aggrandizement and no oversight was performed by government aficionados in antipathy to the strictures of any portion of their mandate. Moreover, all that had been afforded to us by nature in years gone by has virtually been destroyed and is now lost to future generations.

Modernization is not all bad as it has solved a few of yesterday’s conundrums and led to the invention of cures to the maladies that afflicted society previously. In the 80’s and 90’s the HIV menace ravaged humanity in a way few cataclysms have. Men and women who were hitherto energetic, virile and luscious as a consequence of their youth soon started to waste away and suffer incessant and gradual pilfering of their salubrious comportments. As no medication offered a lasting remedy to this situation, many people in the developing world thought of this as a curse wrought upon humanity as a result of grievously angering the guy upstairs. Those not so perceptive started accusing their next-door neighbours and friends-turned-foes of witchcraft, if not giving them the ‘evil-eye’. Governments sat up and took notice after seeing so much of its youthful and productive populations succumb to the vagaries of this syndrome. Concerted efforts in modern medicine have birthed forth the ‘anti-retroviral therapy’ that has ensured that HIV-AIDS is no longer a death sentence but merely a medical condition to be managed like many humanity have had to grapple with for eons anyway. The scourges of the past like malaria, bubonic plague, smallpox, dysentery and polio among others have all been sufficiently contained to the glee of humanity. However, a new threat has arisen that has sent many medical practitioners scampering back to the literal drawing board, Cancer. The grouse with cancer is that its exact causative agents and vectors are neither well understood nor documented. It could as well originate from a myriad of sources. It not only baffles but with each passing day continues to defy all preventive and remedial measures thrown in its path. Apart from conclusive proof that overexposure to high-energy electromagnetic radiation is one of the causes of cancer from the tragic epilogue to the lives of Nobel-prize winning scientific forbearer; Marie Curie, her daughter Irene and son in law Joliot not so much can be conclusively explained with relation to the true origins of what is now with great trepidation referred to as the Big C. Cancer has afflicted both man and beast for eon; however, it is only today that this infestation has taken on epidemic proportions as to threaten the entire human existence.

To understand what Cancer really is you have to delve into a topic that I am ill-equipped to comment on but in all due gratitude to the input of friends and relatives in the medical profession and since circa 1998; Dr. Google, I will attempt to do justice to the topic of Human Anatomy. Anyone who studied Biology in High School may have heard of the word ‘Cell’. This is the basic building block of any organism. You may also have deciphered your teacher yapping on end about anaphase, prophase and telophase. Cells naturally undergo division in the ongoing process of repair and / or replacement of their worn-out counterparts, growth, reproduction and basically all the processes that are parceled as life-sustaining. Cancer in layman’s language is the propensity for rapid and uncontrolled cell division of hitherto normal cells to the extent of encroaching into and eventually destroying normal body tissue and in most cases proliferating as unsightly nay painful tumors. Tumors are to most intents and purposes a normal medical phenomenon. Most tumors usually end up being an unforeseen accumulation of fluid or tissue on an inconvenient location of the body that is seldom too harmful and can be removed with minimal fuss. These are the benign tumors. The problem is with the malignant tumors. These are quite aggressive, invasive and for lack of a better word – diabolical as they gradually break down the nascent structure of a body tissue, irreparably damaging its functionality. This is life-threatening!

Often when the discussion comes up, people mention something or other, usually death as the great equalizer but apparently the formbook has been torn to shreds by the emergence of this medical monstrosity. It has proven to possess no discrimination whatsoever with regards to demographics. It attacks the rich, the poor, young and old all with equally menacing impact. Those that are publicly venerated in their passing are the newsmakers of the day like our lionized Nobel-prize laureate Wangari Maathai, Former Cabinet Ministers John Michuki and Njenga Karume, Governor. Nderitu Gachagua among a host of other dignitaries. It did not escape my attentions that close to two months ago we had to bid farewell in quick succession to Safaricom CEO – Robert Collymore; the joint pioneer Female County Executive in Kenya, Former Bomet Governor – Her Excellency Joyce Laboso and lastly the most impactful, visionary and altruistic of our current crop of legislators, Former Kibra MP – Hon. Kenneth Okoth. I am sure any of you reading this post is afflicted by this scourge in one way or another by the loss of a close relation or friend that needless to say did not receive nearly as much publicity as the aforementioned sages. Not to alarm anyone but we are all firmly in the firing range as potential sufferers. I am on record in a previous post decrying our predicament as a nation of being unwittingly forced into consuming lead and mercury compounds passed off as sugar, plastic cavorting as rice, meat full of hitherto banned Sodium Metabisulphite, chicken injected with steroids not the least being anti-retroviral therapy medicament for rapid fattening, milk preserved with just a hint of chloroform and cheap liquor laced with methanol expecting no serious health consequences, come on! The Government under the auspices of the Kenya Bureau of Standards is expected to play the role of quality control. How well they do that is a matter of conjecture.

As famous 1970’s pop musician John Lennon once quipped, “Life is what happens when we are busy making plans.” Should we merely be sitting ducks waiting for whatever fate will befall us? In our desperation to reduce the probability of being the next victim many have taken radical steps to avoid almost any food that has a hint of not being organic-based. Conspiracy theorists have laid blame squarely at the door of genetically modified organism and foods which I think is escapist thinking. This is in lieu of the fact that Genetic Modification in itself is a naturally occurring process. In many cases Genetic modification results in a bigger, fleshier fruit that will be misconstrued as the same enlargement of human tissue that often results in cancerous tumours. This in my view is an aberration of reason. For instance, when two neighbouring farms grow two different varieties of the same grain crop and due to pollination, gametes from one crop are transmitted to the next, that inherently results in the alteration of the resultant genome of the next produce. Both the fruits and subsequent seeds will have encoded within new genetic information. Genetic Modification guarantees food security thanks to the additional properties added to a crop by the same process, but could our strife for food security be the portal through which we are letting in our doom? I may harp on and on but to avoid digression and getting labeled as a blind campaigner for GM, I will reserve that topic for another day’s discussion.

What measures are to be put in place to safeguard our lives against the potential havoc being wreaked by this unspeakable infestation?

  • As a taxpayer, I would urge the government to declare Cancer a national disaster and just like HIV-AIDS in 1999, subsidize life-saving medical procedure and medication to give the afflicted a fighting chance against this scourge. The most important resource on earth is humanity. It has become an epithet of empirical wisdom that most families are poised just one medical emergency away from financial ruin. It behoves the government of the day to soften the blow for the millions who find themselves in this quagmire. As a matter of fact, I needn’t be seen to be begging when I urge that each County Referral hospital should take on the role of a Cancer Treatment & Research Centre. We needn’t any longer be partakers of medical tourism in India and Israel when the requisite medical procedures could be found within our borders. With affordable medi-care, even routine check-ups will become a way of life. At inception, Cancer patients will not have any anomalous marks on their foreheads meaning that only these check-ups exist as a means for early diagnosis. Just like any other medical condition, the earlier the diagnosis the faster the path back to good health.
  • Additional to proper medical care, palliative care should be made universal and dignified for all cadres of society regardless of the depth of your pockets. Many nations beat their chest about how civilized they are but as 38thS Vice President; a highly enlightened human-being Humphrey Hubert once put it, “the moral test of a civilization is how well it threats the vulnerable: those at the dawn of life – children, those poised at the twilight of life – the elderly and those at the shadows of life – the sick & handicapped.” No one deserves to suffer the loss of human dignity enshrined constitutionally merely as a misadventure precipitated by the lightness of their pockets. Emergency Cancer treatment should no longer be viewed as a luxury service for the but as a basic need for all.
  • We need a revolution with regards to our lifestyles. Modern life is more sedentary as convenience is availed at our doorsteps obviating the need for physical exercise. Even agricultural activity is mechanized so we no longer have to till the land, weed crops, personally spray insecticides and harvest. Our children no longer have space to play and run around and therein lies the malady. Lifestyle diseases that in times gone by used to afflict middle aged men and women like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and deep-vein thrombosis are now affecting people as young as those in primary school and that is sufficient cause for alarm. Additionally due to our hectic way of life we have no time to exercise let alone eat healthy. Longevity has been proven to have a direct correlation with consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. When fried meat/potatoes, processed foods and industrially synthesized fruit juices become our only cheaply available source of nutrition, then we cannot say we are doing well. Who is to say that the changes the modern man is undergoing does not make him a suitable substrate for the processes that are a recipe for cancer?
  • The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is a crucial statutory body in ensuring quality of all products consumed by the citizenry of this country. It is therefore imperative that the personnel is empowered so as to perform this critical role as effectively as envisaged. This includes the hiring of men and women with high-level expertise and integrity to effectively execute their mandate. Enforcement of standards should be a crucial stricture paramount to all. It is tear-jerking that it had to take the initiative of private investigators to unearth the malevolence that has been systematically fed to willing buyers and citizens of the republic in antipathy to our constitutional right to consumer protection. Why are we paying people to sleep on the job? A few heads have rolled and been taken to court at KEBS not forgetting the game of musical chairs at the Ministry of Industrialization. But I dare pry, who could possibly put a numerical value to the deleterious impact of the villainous concord between fiendish entrepreneurs and rogue KEBS aficionados? Our man-eat-man way to capitalism will in due cause cost us our greatest wealth, which is our own collective health.
  • It’s not be lost on the wise, the dictates of the Ministry of Health warnings on Cigarettes and Alcoholic beverages. Overindulgence is harmful to your health. Also the wise man once postured that prevention is better than cure. As per World Medical Organization reports, a critical mass of Lung and Liver Cancers occur for no other reason than our failure to exercise temperance to our vices.
  • There are segments of our population that through no fault of their own find themselves with insufficient melanin to protect their skins against the debilitating effects of Ultra-Violet radiation consequent to our direct equatorial insolation. The black man has long been reviled and discriminated, sometimes turned the butt of unfair jokes for his skin pigmentation but currently as per the dictum of empirical medical knowledge, cases of melanoma and carcinoma have proven to have a lower incidence among the darker population. My message to the skin-lightening brigade is to stop lest your quest for presumption of beauty be turned into an avenue to the unwanted early grave! Hope my message is sufficiently lucid.
  • Environmental degradation and pollution plays an unequivocally crucial role in the occurrence of many medical anomalies. The World owes us nothing but will ultimately require duty of care from the most intelligent of God’s creation. Cutting down forest cover diminishes our natural sponge to absorb not just green-house gases but also compounds that will deplete the ozone layer that is vital in protecting earth from the deprecating effects of cosmic radiation. When waste is let lose into our water supply and air, without a doubt negative consequences will manifest onto humanity. I charge anyone with access to Google Earth to have a look at the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria and compare the water colour with our Ugandan and Tanzanian neighbours and not feel a tinge of dismay if not embarrassment!

 

  • Last but not least, pray as there is little else that can be done about genetic predisposition to some forms of cancer.

 

The overarching message here is that even in the midst of so much despondency, there is so much we can do to even if temporarily forestall the surge of the Big C. Resilience and adaptability have been the hallmark of all forms of life that have ever stood the test of time. Uncertainty notwithstanding, let’s put our faith on medical researchers and believe that ultimately as surely as the scope of the human mind eternally grows, we will find a way to tame the unspeakable beast.

Categories
Political & Social Empowerment

THIS FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION MAY JUST SECURE UHURU KENYATTA’S LEGACY

Uhuru legacy 2 Few of those who have cast even a passing glance upon the Bible have missed the fabulous story of Samson son of Manoah; the Nazirite, from the small tribe of Dan. He was presaged as a great hope to the people even before his conception. He was consequently dedicated to the Lord from the day he was born. As a chosen one he took the vow of abstinence from alcoholic drink, touching the dead and trimming his hair. Consequently, he grew to be physically very strong and of salubrious disposition. His anointment meant that when he came of age he took his position as one of the nascent Judges of the nation of Israel. But somewhere along the line he lost his way. Human beings mingle and naturally friendships develop out of acquaintances. Samson’s youthful exuberance took him past the gates of Gaza and therein he invariably was acquainted with Israel’s sworn nemesis, the Philistines. In my estimation this may have been borne out of contempt as he felt even if the Philistines were such odious people, no weapon formed against ‘God’s anointed’ was ever going to prosper! Familiarity breeds contempt. That is where his downfall began. He was forced into gambling on the bizarre and consequently on losing the bets he had to pay so great a price. His Achilles’ heel that burnt his credentials into a fine cinder was his amorous engagement with the lasses of Philistine extraction. Just as many of the ones we have around even today, they had little loyalty to authentic affection and could have easily been swayed by material possessions and tribal inclination in antipathy to any warmth of attraction they may ever have felt at first. That is how despite being the stalwart who tore apart a lion with his bare hands and even ate honey from the titan’s innards; he was fickle pickings as far as the wiles of feminine carnality are concerned. When he posed the trope “Out of something strong comes something sweet to eat…” who even with the most ingenious of crania could ever have guessed even remotely the general solution to this equation, ‘Runge-Kutta’ formula savoir-faire notwithstanding? The answer was willfully coaxed out of this ace and soon the grapevine around town became the solution to his seemingly insuperable puzzle. As a loser of this infernal frolic he was obliged to provide 42 festive gauntlets, but where was he to obtain them in such short notice? He was forced to become a robber with a tyrant’s violence who tricked a group of men into a scuffle with him that ended in a bloody carnage for the unfortunate victims of Samson’s brutality! 42 men lay dead in cold blood and our Nazirite was forced to play the role of a mortician stripping off the festive garments from the previously benighted but currently deceased lads. He had broken one of the strictures of the Nazirite vow, “Never in your life boy should you ever touch a dead body!” But the Lord was still with him. He also greatly ignited the fury of the Philistine overlords against Israel and he became a harbinger of Israel’s insolence. It was now more than a game and restitution became necessary! He once again found himself in trouble in Gaza when he was seduced into a harlot’s den and given a strong drink that lulled him to sleep. He committed the unpardonable iniquity of placing his trust on a consummate practitioner of the oldest profession devoid of even a shred of concern for her own very body. Wow! A plan was hatched to arrest him at an ungodly hour when his reflexes would have been thought of non-existent. Fortunately, being a light sleeper he was awakened by the commotion outside and went into survival mode. He crept up to the gates and performed the unheralded feat of not just extracting and lifting the entire structure of wood, bars, hinges and foundation but carting it 61 Kilometres up the hill opposite Mt. Hebron. I hear this loss was so crippling that even to this day funds are yet to be availed for the rebuilding of that important piece of protective infrastructure and an unmistakable gape remains where an impregnable hardwood gate once stood! Long story short, the cat was out of the bag. An irresistible woman of the name Delilah was procured to make Samson so passionately in love that even the stranglehold on the secret of his invincibility was loosened and he was ultimately captured and his eyes gauged out for good measure! But in captivity Samson made reparations with his creator, renewed his abhorrence for the barber and it paid dividends. He regained his old strength back. As an irreverent guest during the feast for one of the philistine gods; Dagon, Samson made sure he played to greatest effect the role of party-pooper by literally ‘bringing down the house’ on all that attended. The King, the nobles, generals and the lovely Delilah all perished in one fell swoop. The misfortune of the story is that Samson, a man of potential to be the greatest leader Israel ever had; indeed Dan’s pride & joy, was lost to the world because of falling prey to hubris and personal foibles. This is the situation Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s incumbent President finds himself mired in today. Allow me to indulge y’all.

God rarely calls the qualified, more often than not choosing to qualify those called but the question I must pose at this juncture is this: Was U. Kenyatta really called or much less even slightly qualified when he ascended to the apex of Kenya’s political power? What of his Deputy William Ruto? Truth be told, Uhuru Kenyatta acceded to the presidency on the back of a bi-tribal quest to stave off their sons’ potential arrest by the International Criminal Court in case of being found with a heavy of burden of culpability in their crimes against humanity case for meting out inordinate barbarism during the 2007 post-election violence. An indictment in this court for any society that adheres to the rule of law, logic, civility and sensibility must surely be the threshold for non-eligibility for any public office, but not Kenya! The tyranny of tribal arithmetic did not help his cause in the slightest with regards to being a symbol of unity as viewed in the backdrop of the innumerable, unrepresented, numerically disadvantaged tribal entities in Kenya. Moreover, this is exacerbated by the implicit feeling among many Kenyans that he is merely a porch-prince, ill-tooled and utterly uninitiated to the struggles of the ordinary man. Being too care-free, laissez-faire and a guy boasting a suicidally happy-go-lucky attitude to life, much worse to Kenyan unity led to serious questions arising on his credentials for this highly crucial venture of leading a nation’s destiny for not just today but into the future. But the good fortune of the wealth afforded to him by the Kenyatta heritage, not less the recognizable family name ensured that our prince was galloping headlong towards the pinnacle of Kenya’s political power, perhaps unfairly against more deserving candidates. Allegations of a serious lack of sobriety also cast aspersions on the character of the man, Uhuru. Moreover, a perception of leaning more heavily towards the tribe than national well-being weighed heavily on his visage. A feeling that ‘extra-electoral’ mechanisms were involved in this duo’s election cannot be ruled out despite the Supreme Court upholding their victory in 2013. To add insult to injury, on getting elected in a highly contentious election he went on a campaign of protecting only himself against any injury to his personal interests at the expense of state business. Shuttle diplomacy it was called. This in turn hurt the Kenyan economy greatly.

Not in the least, he also distinguished himself as a standard-bearer of incompetence by endeavoring to appoint ill-fitting individuals to important national positions; worse still gave a smooth landing to political losers who contested the elections on the Jubilee party ticket. Appointments to state corporations became a matter of tribal affiliation with the consideration heavily favouring only two tribes to the disenfranchisement of the rest of the nation. This did not bother Mr. Kenyatta in the least. The culmination of these appointments was manifested in the fiasco that was personified as the Garissa and Westgate terrorist attacks that were a direct consequence of laxity, corruption and incompetence at worst. A Cabinet secretary who attributes smoke during a terrorist attack to burning of a mattress is not just a liability but a great embarrassment to their appointing authority, in this case the President. The cataclysm that was the Westgate terrorist attack came at a great expense to no less the President himself as he lost kith and kin. Empirical evidence has concluded that both attacks could have been forestalled before they happened and the rescue effort better coordinated a fact the President alluded to in retiring the then Inspector General of Police and totally relieving the sitting Cabinet Secretary of all executive powers and relegating the guy back to kitchen duty when making consequent cabinet appointments.

Additionally, the president became moody and apprehensive if not emotional and mushy when he mentioned that he and his government will continue to figuratively ‘eat the meat’ while the apparent naysayers from the opposition masticate on their own saliva. Uhuru Kenyatta did himself no favours when he chose to dabble in more semantics and theatrics as opposed to deliberate action as a means to curb corruption. He portrayed himself as a week character unable to deal with some ‘cartel’ that had dismally been allowed to take root as far as the Office of The President. Both public sentiment and austerity attached to the august office of the President of Kenya slipped consistently even among the most ardent of his supporters. In the absence of good counsel, Parliament itself became an actual battleground when the prevailing sentiment was that the Speakers in both houses were behaving as if they were merely figureheads and marionettes for statehouse. A seeming lack of autonomy saw debate in both houses degenerating to either partisanship at best and fist fights at worst. A day came when a government anti-terrorism bill that covertly gagged the media was forcefully passed in the national assembly amid throwing of missiles and the deputy speaker getting her expensively procured crowning glory of ‘natural hair’ drenched by a fellow woman legislator. In the aftermath of this fiasco, no less another female member of the national assembly brought forward allegations of sexual battery and torn knickers in the course of the foregoing casting a terrible stain on the president’s ability to whip his side into any measure of a disciplined side. This was only in his first term.

If you thought his first term was stormy and acrimonious then you were in for a shocker come the subsequent re-election and commencement of the second term. At re-election time it was threats and intimidation galore to any state officers who did not dance to the Jubilee Party tune. As a highly divisive character, he made it clear that he was going to govern Kenya even if he would forego votes from some regions of the republic. He poured out incendiary vitriol in the direction of the leader of the opposition making it known he thought of him as a perennial loser, perpetual cry-baby and anything but a ‘Mugoroki’ (Madman). This split the nation in half as anyone with an inkling on the on-goings of the previous election was beyond aware of the illusion that Mr. Kenyatta won the election by exactly 50% + 8,000 odd votes and Raila a respectable second at 43%. Hate him or Love him; Former Prime Minister, Mr. Odinga prima-facie commanded the love and appreciation of nearly half the country and was an important factor in any national debate on the destiny of Kenya. Public sentiment and goodwill was heavily in his favour, a fact that can never be disputed or wished away! Derision to the rule of law became his modus operandi as court orders were treated with contempt and synergy between the three arms of government came a cropper in deference to the Executive.

Indisguisable opprobrium was shown to the 4th Estate and Media Freedom became only an Academic enshrinement of the constitution far removed from reality. We were going to the dogs. The election came under a cloud of the referee body heavily leaning towards the incumbent. The winner was a foregone conclusion early in the contest despite national goodwill being with the opposition side. The election had been so riddled with injustice and illegalities that it had to be petitioned at the Supreme Court. So heavy was the burden of proof against the IEBC that the Supreme Court by a great majority nullified the result of the Presidential Election and called for a new one. They were spared neither the paroxysms of the President nor his indifference to their role. Revisiting was the least they were promised should the sitting President get elected in the second poll. This Poll ended up a non-contest as the illegalities and impartiality, a hallmark of IEBC from the First Poll persisted and the opposition party pulled out of the contest. Consequently, governance became a theatre of the absurd as cat and mouse games between protestors and police, disproportionate violence by security agencies towards the populace and indifference by the president-reelect became the order of the day. The Presidential legitimacy of this figurehead became a matter of conjecture and the economy consequently took another dip. When the Opposition leader ordered for Mass action and economic sabotage as a way to tame this high-handed regime the nation seemed to be at the throes of civil war. So serious was the situation that a bill was being mooted for the secession of a large tranche of Kenya from the whole. Then came January 30th 2018 and the Opposition Leader took the perilous step to be sworn-in as the People’s President of the Republic of Kenya. We now had 2 presidents and a potentially catastrophic showdown was imminent. Then much like lightening out of azure skies came the 4th of March handshake that cooled down tensions and gave the President the much needed legitimacy as full leader of Kenya.

Prior to the handshake it had been fashionable to curry favour with state by simply insulting the Opposition leader in the presence of the president. Many ills were partaken under the very auspices of state but with a lame-duck president, little if no condemnation would be forthcoming. Impunity and corruption reigned supreme under this regime but all this changed after the famous handshake. It is as if new impetus was injected into the president, legitimacy permitting and he soared above partisanship with an unheralded gust of wind under his wings. As if algid water had been splashed upon him, he suddenly woke up to the realities of a rotten legacy he was leaving behind as the worst head of state to ever have had the misfortune to pillage Kenya! As he had already secured the commencement of the constitutionally stipulated two terms he no longer saw the need to split the country merely for political expedience. His new allies became common sense and the rule of law, a move welcomed by a wide spectrum of the country. His vision became clearer. He now discovered the teeth he has always had to take corruption head on throwing both friend and foe literally under the bus. Appointing the youthful and uncompromising George Kinoti as the Director of Criminal Investigations and Noordin Hajj as the Director of Public Prosecution was a masterstroke in sensibly dealing corruption a death knell. Dispensing with the old system for the pristine is to the benefit of all who have the interest of the country at heart.

Men like Rashid Echessa who had done little to embellish his image as an unschooled and boorish character were mercifully ushered out of the cabinet to fanfare even in his native Mumias! Let Ministerial portfolios now be assigned to more competent and enlightened professionals not village louts being rewarded for paying fealty to a lost cause. Sentiments of tribal animosity like ‘Kumira-Kumira, Thuraku –Thuraku’ have been dispensed with for the more conciliatory message of Unity, Love & Peace to portend an all-inclusive development agenda. The President has now put forward the Big 4 Agenda to foster Manufacturing, provide affordable Housing, Improve healthCare and Food security. All of a sudden, it’s become kaleidoscopically clear that Kisumu is located on the shores of the biggest Fresh water lake in Africa and so locating a Beer Manufacturing plant there would bode well with this aim of job creation and increasing manufacturing where water availability is no conundrum. This is in antipathy to what we have witnessed for years where disenfranchisement of the region was hallowed as ‘uncircumcised barons of poverty would be left to roast in their own well-documented obstinacy and unwavering opposition to the government of the day. That change of tact is heart-warming just the same way the President is now viewed as a welcome visitor in Luo-Nyanza, by and large anywhere in Kenya. A few months ago many were wondering if the right driver had been assigned to our collective bus but now he looks too young to retire!

And sure enough the chickens are coming home to roost as the age of sacred cows draws to a close. With the political salve against perversion in the name of protecting the Presidency exhausted, heads are now rolling. The blue-eyed boy of the Jubilee administration, Mr. Henry Rotich was finally caught with his fingers firmly stuck in the cookie jar and duly fired from his portfolio at treasury and arraigned in court over his transgressions. A sitting Governor from the President’s own backyard is also in hot soup for allotting tenders worth over a Billion bob to an entity with familial links to himself and no other prequalification of either expedience or track record of service delivery. The wheels of the juggernaut called the anti-corruption initiative now appear well greased by political will and are milling them big and small. Not in the least, this could be Mr. Kenyatta’s saving grace as he attempts to salvage his legacy from the fires of mediocrity that has plagued his stint. Win this fight and we will eternally hail him as the greatest leader we have ever had. He will also have set a precedent any of his successors will ill afford to eschew and so in a refrain made famous by our former president H.E. Daniel Moi, “na hiyo ni Maendeleo.”

Categories
Political & Social Empowerment

MY LETTER TO THE DESPOT: GROOM AN ABLE SUCCESSOR

David and Solomon
King David and his son Crown Prince Solomon

The tragedy of this world is that history always conveniently chooses to overlook the contributions of the precursor. My reverence for Alexander the Great stands undisguised! He achieved so much in such a little time and displayed such incredible wit in doing so that you cannot help but marvel at the splendour of it all. An ignored fact of history is that he would never have achieved any of that were it not for Phillip II; his father, who no doubt figuratively set the canvas and provided most of the hue his son used to paint the masterpiece the great Greco-Macedonian dominion became. The great scholar and tutor; Aristotle, was also in part responsible for both the philosophical and pedagogical formation of Alexander III. Unbeknown to many, in his youth Phillip II was the archetypal ambitious if not just rambunctious child who would not let anyone hold him back from attaining what he wanted. He was born and brought up as one of the heirs to the Argead dynasty of Macedonian Kings. He was the youngest son of King Amynas III and Queen Eurydice I and so had to throw his weight around to improve his lot in the royal succession mix. The men of his day earned respect not by scholarly pursuit but by valour in the battlefield. For his headstrong nature he once got himself captured in an infantile excursion, trespassing into the Greek nation state of Illyria at the impressionably tender age of 14. He was held for ransom there and later in Thebes. His insight and unyielding mien even under captivity reigned supreme ensuring he was soon taken under the wing of renowned Theban commanders Epaminondas and Pelopidas, enlightened souls who bequeathed him with a copious amount of tutelage on military organization and diplomacy. He was repatriated on a prisoner-exchange deal back to Macedon 3 yrs later having grown in both physique and psyche. In due course, the cruel hand of war took its toll on his two older brothers weaving a clear path for his ascension to the Macedon throne on his father’s death 6 years after his return. As one of the more capable rulers; he instituted the Macedonian Phalanx – involving longer spears than the opponents for the infantry, an unheralded tactical formation in battle that laid waste to all of his opponents. On conquering the city-states of Athens and Thebes mostly thanks to his expansionist vision, Phillip II consolidated his authority over his massive see. His conquest over the two vanquished titans ultimately saw him elected; albeit under duress, the paramount Hegemon for the federation of Greek states dubbed ‘The League of Corinth’ additionally serving as Commander-In-Chief of the entire sovereignty. Not a creature to eschew the rolling of the proverbial sleeves, 3 years into his reign he got his right eye wounded by an enemy archer in the heat of the battle of Methone, a sphere of influence of Athens but soldiered on to win that battle. He lost his eye but won the war over a territory with massive reserves of gold and silver, a pyrrhic victory of sorts. It is this indomitable spirit that laid the foundation which Alexander the Great inherited to build upon. Alex III began getting blooded in battle from his teens and by the age of 16 reigned partially as regent and heir-apparent when his father; the Macedonian warlord, was engrossed in yet another military campaign. Alexander fully took over authority at the age of 20 following the assassination of his old man, incidentally being blindsided on the left-side by his son as his very own trusted bodyguard lurched upon a lapse in security to stab him fatally. On that fateful day, incidentally the wedding day of his daughter Cleopatra and Alexander I of Epirus; he let his guard down ceremonially and rather nonchalantly riding in his chariot, brother of the bride – the Crown Prince Alexander III in tow. Long but hopefully instructive digression I suppose.

In the previous blog I entreated the antiquated yet obstinate strongman to take the dignified step and call time on his decorated political career. This in itself is a simplistic outlook that ignores the obvious shortcomings of leadership in the third-world, in token by and large of the people being governed. It is an entire complex equation full of variables, functions of state, combinations, permutations, matrices and some other aspects of happenstance which are mutually exclusive and cannot all be replicated for two different sets of circumstances. There are well worn sentiments that the leadership cadre is just a microcosm of the masses being governed. In most cases the polity is not any different from the politicians they elect. Even the hallowed commentator on matters governance Niccolò Machiavelli in his masterpiece; The Prince, observed that there is never a real change in leadership even when power changes hands from one individual to the next. It is just a game of musical chairs by the same monkeys but in different forests. We as humans share similar traits that become even more indistinguishable and primal the less enlightened the individual is. Human nature is so complex that either hatred or adoration can be kindled by performing similar acts of good or evil for a homologous audience on different days. The factor here is time while logic is cast out of the window. The uninitiated will judge more by the eye than by the hand as everyone can see but few can feel or less still perceive. If a different person is given power he is vulnerable to commit the same acts of corruption for personal aggrandizement, sexual perversion to buttress their social status, tax evasion merely to dishonour Caesar, hypocrisy while hoodwinking the blind albeit foolhardy and witless of their none-existent love for the Almighty.

After 20 – 40 years in power, a head of state is usually too full of himself to even countenance advice from the men and women in his payroll expressly for that purpose. He oft views himself as a god – ‘Father of the Nation’ and even a Professor of Politics despite open defiance and betrayal of the trust of the electorate who put him in power the first time. His morning starts with the infernal massaging of his ego, “mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the most beneficent of them all?” In his considered opinion it’s obviously he. He deludes himself that he’s the best thing since buttered bread and goes ahead to abolish presidential term limits. Some use the most flimsy of excuses to move the tentative start date of their presidential term forwards basing it on the day a certain minor constitutional amendment was made. Election dates are affected, postponed to such an extent that they become fuzzy and someone ends up serving a 5 year term in may be 6, 7 up to 8 years. This is in absolute contravention of the same constitutional ambit they disregard with ruthless abandon in their refusal to retire. They fiddle with term limits until they ultimately drop dead and their game is mercifully over. There is no postponing the visit of the grim reaper! The more callous will just announce that they have decided to become ‘President for Life’ and whoever has a problem can go create his own country and become its leader. These are men and women way past the confines of basic decency with some displaying not just the onset of dementia but senility, both of which are crippling handicaps not worthy of my derision in token of my upbringing as the son of a medical practitioner. You have no doubt heard a few quoting the hard to locate Biblical verse about leadership coming from God. I have often mumbled under my breath; no doubt miffed half to death, why God would hate us so much as to saddle upon our collective backs an incompetent, conniving and quixotic ignoramus to lead us when there are so many worthy candidates in our midst? Instructive to note, the sagacious grey-head will look at the sunset and decide it is now time to groom if not anoint a fitting successor.

This begs the question – What constitutes a competent successor?

I will beseech any retiring supremos boasting grey-matter to take time and sift through the wheat and chaff to get a man or woman who best displays leadership qualities, a predilection for effective stewardship. This includes courage in adversity, resilience, integrity, a belief in hard work, analytical thinking and most importantly an effective communicator. Get a guy with charisma and gravitas to always rise to the occasion on a need basis. Get one who is aggressive in the pursuit of results but still affable as to keep the team under him happy to be his subordinates.

Make haste to identify the right protégé early when public goodwill is still on your side. Timing is of the essence as the patience of even your most ardent supporter is neither infinite nor eternally assured. It will get frayed and before you can blink evaporate in the heat of your tardiness in bidding farewell. Even a good idea at first instance loses its traction as soon as a better one comes into the picture. To illustrate this I will regal y’all with yet another anecdote. King David son of Jesse is the most celebrated of Jewish Kings. Even today the Israeli standard bearer has the Star of David, the royal insignia in its drapery. He wrote the Book of Psalms to give praise and adulation the Lord. His piety and gratitude for divine providence was such that he personally wanted to build a temple for the Lord. When he put this by his creator he was turned down but with a caveat. “The resplendent domicile for my habitation will be built by your son Solomon, the fruit of Bathsheba’s womb.” He was slightly pained but you don’t argue with divine precepts. He consequently spared no effort in ensuring Solomon was up to the task. He even fended off on his young son’s behalf the individual claims to the throne by his older half-brothers Absalom sired from Maacah and later Adonijah son of Haggith. Ultimately Solomon succeeded his father as King, prayed for wisdom and was granted, eventually building and consecrating a fitting sanctuary for his Lord. Furthermore, he authored the Books of Proverbs & Ecclesiastes as a fitting tribute to the seeds of discernment his father planted in him. He would almost assuredly never have attained all this were it not for the proper whetting of his leadership scythe by his father just in the nick of time.

Mentor your preferred successor to ensure he works in a manner more similar if not better than what you delivered. Mentorship is an important factor of success. It enables one to take a shorter time to reach the rhetorical ‘cruising-altitude’ for success while cutting out the unnecessary teething problems they would have experienced in the absence of a seasoned predecessor. There is nothing better than learning from a titan who has been there and done that. As a retiring statesman do not be selfish with counsel in clear obeisance of folk wisdom that though one candle lights the other, it will lose none of its current luminous intensity in the aftermath. Be the epitome of altruism. Veteran ruler, worry not about the overshadowing of your legacy by your apprentice as I am of the school of thought that the mentorship of a suitable successor will hold you in good stead with your assayers when legacies are ultimately compared. There is no better way in ensuring your successor follows through on your development agenda than this.

Tutelage is never enough as actions speak louder than words. Guide your successor on all the facets of the system that is government. How do you achieve this? Have your protégé in leadership positions for small committees, boards, office parties and the like. Elect him as your representative on a fund-raising initiative so that he sees how it is done. You cannot train a grown-up on morality but be sure to make it clear to them that IFMIS is a system to facilitate accountability in government expenditure and procurement not to rob the financier of its all, the tax-payer! In the sentiments well parlayed by the good book in Proverbs 22:6, “Teach your child in the ways they should follow and even in their old age they will not depart from it.” Stewardship delegation ensures that your successor not only earns invaluable experience in the art of governance but it heightens the prospect that when the time is opportune he will do the same with his potential successor. It’s a wholesome tradition to initiate. In Kenya we had this man, Professor George Saitoti. He had a well-calculated political career paying credence to his academic and professional expression as a Professor of Mathematics. He was the Kenyan Vice-President for 13 years; later in his tenure, additional to the portfolio of VP he grasped steadfast the critical docket of Planning and National Development for 7 years; Minister for Education, Science and Technology for 4 years; Minister for Finance for 4 years – without any of the mortifying ‘Computer errors’ in computation of the national budget one his successors had to explain away and lastly held the Ministry of Internal Security for 4 years until his untimely demise. I am left to rue what such a character oozing oodles as far as experience in high-level governance is concerned would have done for Kenya if he were to become President. If Moi would have considered either he or Raila Odinga instead of political green-horn Uhuru Kenyatta, wouldn’t the cockerel of KANU have continued to crow well past the half a century mark? Likely yes!

After retirement I would enthuse the long-standing ‘Father of the Nation’ to take an advisory role of the elder statesman. You could decide to have a quiet retirement but any decision is at your sole discretion or that of your successor. Attend national events from time to time making your presence felt. Also take time to tend to your livestock and spare some more to tell tales of yore to your grand-children and their children as they also need you for their dose of folklore. Make reparations with all you have wronged and set your affairs straight with both the Deity and fellow man. Catch up with some surviving village mates for a jig or two. They need it.

As Africans we are tired of seeing once venerable shining lights of their generation retiring as grizzled old men; our grand-fathers, being chiseled off the Presidential throne for the graveyard. We are equally tired of the instability that inevitably results from regime change in some of our banana republics. Imagine if Muammar Gadaffi of Libya had groomed a successor in advance, what a flourishing tale the continuation of his legacy would have been? Instead of forebears beating their chests and informing us condescendingly, “I told you so” when a handover leads to chaos, it is only proper that one grooms an able successor as an expression of not just maturity as a leader but also authentic patriotism.

Categories
Political & Social Empowerment

THE DAYS OF THE AFRICAN STRONGMAN ARE NUMBERED

Mugabe TumbleAlexander III, King of Macedonia was a man of inimitable achievement. That he ultimately earned himself the eternal moniker of ‘Alexander the Great’ is not a matter of conjecture but something borne out of solid achievement. As stated in an earlier blog he conquered the entire known ancient world from Western Europe to Northern Africa stretching all the way to Asia at the bank of the Jhelum River in the Hydaspes Valley in Modern day Pakistan. Before that he was already regaled as not just one of royal upbringing and the heir-apparent to the Argead dynasty which then rested on the lap of his father Emperor Phillip II but also as a great intellectual and military tactical savant of his time. He once quipped in passing, “I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity.” He was ultimately proved right but rather fatefully. He was of such exquisite military poise that he never tasted defeat in battle in his prime. However, despite his acquisitions and holding steadfast to the path of the sublime and personal fulfillment, his life came to that anticipated end at the tender age of 32 ostensibly from a bout of Malaria!  Who said the anatomically insignificant mosquito is not dreadful? Like Hip-hop great Tupac Shakur, this icon personally presaged the small vial that was to be the confines of the days numbered for his life (Sic)!  But I digress.

A sage of his time once uttered that if a hero lives long enough he will inevitably suffer the transformation into an unrecognizable villain, abhorrent and an utter anathema even to the principal beneficiaries of his reign of beneficence. The World over, most especially in Africa this statement has rung ever so true. Venerable orators, intellectually gifted political minds of the day and military strategists fought and attained the independence of their nations. Later they were hailed as heroes when they presided the downing of the colonial standard-bearers and hoisting of the new and audacious flags of the fledgling, pristinely-minted African states. Many basked in the brilliance of the great inferno that burnt to ashes the final vestiges of colonialism and ushered in self-determination. The aforementioned heroes almost automatically became Heads of State and Government. They reveled in all the euphoria, good-will and legitimacy as leaders of the masses. Then came the Coup-d’état craze of the 70’s as a means to regime change by either those who became disenchanted by native rule or the expected horde of know-it-alls and the perennially dissatisfied. In a critical mass of African states the coups were successful after both the blood of patriots and tyrants was shed to forcefully effect change of power. All the same, a few of the independence leaders successfully maintained their grip onto state largesse. Then came the 90’s and the new fad was democracy which was force-fed down the throats of many African ‘strongmen’ by Western Powers fuelled by Bretton-Woods institutions as a pre-condition for the acquisition of  donor funds after the primordial leaders and their acolytes had already plundered their areas of jurisdiction to bankruptcy.

Fast-forward and the year is 2001. What moral authority does a man who took over power in the 1960’s still have to still be called ‘Mr. President’ sir? Many still bark like rabid mongrels about being Independence heroes, revolutionaries, Fathers of the Nation, Last King of Scotland and Great Conquistador of the British Empire, Professors of Politics, ‘Kuku Ngbendu wa Zabanga’ loosely translating to Libido-In-Chief; Chancellor of all Universities on Land, water and Air; great hunter who ensnared & expropriated the white man back to Europe, Economic Moses leading his People to the promised land of fiscal stability, the Commander of the Praetorian guard and many other bizarre titles these now rickety old men have now conferred upon themselves. What new ideas can they possibly add to their nations 30 yrs after coming to power? What additional stratagems on national progression can a man who has had 4 decades to sit on the Presidential throne still have in reserve to pull his ailing nation out of a rut of his own creation?

Of course these owls have been fermented to a fine blend of cunning and sagacious by the winds of time so they hire Ivy-league university trained political advisors, who will infuse into them the fables they regurgitate to the masses about external powers with vested interest to re-colonize them when the story of the passing of the baton to the younger generation of leaders comes up. Prevarication of the age factor becomes a way of life as hair-lines are replenished and dyed a darker hue. They forget the well-touted sentiments that even the dancing virtuoso must live in cognizance of the most opportune time to exit the dance floor! Democracy though implemented on paper becomes an exercise in musical chairs where the votes of the victorious opposition candidates are shunted to another room outside the national tallying centre and burnt to a cinder by the incumbency and that particular man or woman beaten to a pulp for merely being the inadvertent manifestation of meritocracy! Ultimately the ‘Strongman’ succumbs to the vagaries of age; he is taken to a London, Lisbon, Singapore or Paris hospital for a ‘routine’ medical check-up which could as well be the motions of final rites before passing on! News of the colossus’ demise is kept a national secret for a fortnight before irrefutable footage is streamed by the Diaspora community of bloggers confirming that the ‘Elephant’ is no more. The Vice-President; now acting as President, hurriedly convenes a press conference to confirm these reports and save his team blushes. Both legitimate and the usual crocodile tears are shed while the nation plunges into mourning all the while breathing a sigh of relief. But I dare query why a man should grip the helm of power so hard that it must take the icy scythe of the grim reaper to dissociate his fingers from it?

A few weeks ago there were reports from Sudan that long-time President Hassan Omar Al-Bashir, ICC-resistance emeritus had been gently nudged by the military from office and now they held power in his stead at the behest of the People of the Republic of Sudan in reaction to popular protests. While I was going to paper, reports from news outlets both verified and otherwise seem to indicate that Sudan is to be kicked out of the African Union if they don’t move with haste to put authority back to the hands of a Civilian leader soonest possible. This is a clear case of hypocrisy as many of these other African countries in the same token have pot-bellied, Amherst College alumni rulers who are only proxies of their National Armies & the deep state! But what do I know? I am just but a mere ‘Inferus cum-Laude’ Graduate of Engineering and not even Political Science!

Many a long time leader has been forced to vacate office in pretty much the same fashion lard is melted off a knife by fire this being equated to the irresistible heat of change. Like a bush-fire; the Arab spring of 2011 fronted coincidentally by the self-immolation of the Paladin & Martyr of the Fight for Economic Emancipation – the youthful & most venerable; Mohammed Bouazizi proliferated as a new consciousness disabusing the norm among the sons and daughters of Africa. In his honour followed the crumbling to dust of the reigns of hither-to untouchable Kings of Kings of the names Muammar Abu-Minyar Gaddafi of Libya, the Neo-Pharaoh Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and titan Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia portending that the iron curtain had finally come down on the age of titans and demi-god rulers in Africa.

Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire followed hot on their heels after election defeat and insistence to cling to office. A blueprint on how to deal with errant leaders was made out of him, being the irreverent recipient of a donkey-kick where the good Lord split him from his own armed forces and for good measure an unsolicited indictment and successful prosecution at the International Criminal Court at The Hague for Crimes against Humanity for fomenting needless post-election violence. Later also tumbled Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, answering to the ethereal clarion call pertinent to long-term illness ending a hide and seek game on his presence here or in the after-life with the media in August 2012. Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso also found himself in headlong flight from his long-cherished throne after holding power ever since yours truly was ‘in the oven’ to October 31 2014. Yahya Jammeh of Gambia was soon forced into a free and fair election contest he was ill-prepared to rig and fell to the will of the majority to Adama Barrow at 6 in the morning come 2016. Angolan longtime supremo; Jose Eduardo Dos Santos too had to call time on his tenacious grip on power in September 2017 that saw citizens of the oil-rich nation figuratively let-their –hair-down for the first time since 1979.  A week before the penning of our article; long-time nemesis of this very former president so much as to be christened a rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi had been granted his long-awaited, dignified nay heroic funeral in Lopitanga village, Bie Province!

When things could not get any bizarre and they did; the military that had long propped the 37-year former bread-basket turned basket-case, pariah-state regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe did the unthinkable and simply let go. Casualties included his ex-secretary now prima-donna spouse Grace Mugabe who was accused of trying to engineer a sexually-transmitted acquisition of the leadership in ZANU-PF party!  A resignation speech was read to Parliament, but you can tell that to his former right-hand man Emmerson Mnangagwa as comic relief! After lengthy dithering and growing of the ‘Prophetic’ snow-white beard, Joseph Kabila was forced to call for elections in DRC and finally retire from office. Penultimate out of the door was the previously thought of messiah in Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. After ending a bloody civil war in the earlier years of his regime in 2002, he governed in so much apprehension that he eternally reserved the Ministry of Defence for none other than himself! That is how skeptical despots are forced to become. Though elected in 1999 and thought of as an outsider due to his origins in the Oudja protectorate of Morocco, he only knew peace when he took personal control of the national defence in 2003 in the dual role of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces and Defence Minister. He ended emergency rule in 2011 but had recently come into focus due to ineffective governance, high-handedness and you guessed it overstaying his tenancy in the Presidential palace. His announcement to contest for a fifth term in April 2019 was the last straw that broke the Algerian camel’s back and violent protests forced him out. Last but slightly more benign, the revolving door that is the ANC democracy down south caught ‘Jay-Z’ more wildly famous as Jacob Zuma by the coat tails and he was thrown out in favour of Cyril Ramaphosa. There is more of a feeling of Karma about this as many fingers were pointed at J-Zee over the manner in which the gentleman President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki was forced out of his tenure. Let’s see how that one pans out!

A Theatre of the Absurd played out in Guinea-Bissau in 2009 when a sitting president spuriously and unprovoked assassinated his own headstrong Chief of General Staff and the following day revenge was swift when he was ushered into the ethereal realm himself in one of the most unheralded occurrences in Africa. On and off President João Bernado Vieira thought he had finally been ridded of his scourge only to be cleaned off the floors himself in a bloody mess the following day by his own previously loyal and patriotic national guard. Many of these tyrants have presided over kleptocratic regimes that have impoverished, brutalized and killed the enterprises of their own unassuming populace. Authoritarianism and dictatorship have become the staple in our resource-rich yet dust-bowl poor continent as her wealth is carted away by the truck and cargo-plane loads to be invested in Europe and South-East Asia. After that, protests are put down by use of internet and broadcast media shutdown orchestrated with the sole intent to brook division, anarchy and ultimately blindness among the revolting faithful. Press freedom is an unknown concept in most countries in Africa. It’s merely a return to the age-old divide and rule paradigm that our colonial masters and now perfected by the newly independent darker colonizers. Also masses in the presidential home turf are hoodwinked that they are in power and consequently will fight tooth and nail in one’s corner at real and perceived threats to their man’s authority. Fueled by narcotic intoxicants and a few tots of the local brew, every political rally of the opposition will be interspersed by heckling and havoc caused by no other than these partisan hoodlums. Elections have become merely a ritual to burnish our image in the eyes of our Western trading partners and benefactors that we are progressing as mature democracies when in the actual sense that is an aberration of reality. Opposition has been cast to the periphery and even banned resulting in the execution of the veracity in flesh and bone of the sentiments averred by Thomas Jefferson nearly two and a Quarter centuries ago, “when injustice becomes law resistance becomes a duty.”

Over to you Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Paul Biya, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Idriss Deby, Isaias Aferwaki, Museveni, Nkurunzinza and Kagame. The axe awaits you if you delay your decisions. No matter how good you are sooner or later popular fatigue catches up with your people and you need not suffer the ignominy of being kicked out. Pack now and leave! Take a cue from African statesmen like Nelson Mandela, Paul Kaunda and even Daniel Moi. Despotism and the era of Methuselahs have no place in modern day Africa.