Posts Tagged CORD

There’s a fine line between patriotism and posho

If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation will you prefer the grain to the vote?
~ Bertrand Russell

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This is a question I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering over the past few days: Are we ready to shut up and stuff our mouths with cheap posho at the cost of asking the hard questions about the direction this country is taking and how we got here in the first place?

Some background to the food crisis: Kenyan farmers planted maize as usual but were, however, provided with substandard fertiliser, naturally we ended up with very low yields (a situation not helped by poor rains), NCPB then refuses to buy their maize thus ensuring we have no SGR (strategic grain reserves). Hunger ensues. By the way, this is all happening while we’ve thrown 15 billion shillings at irrigation projects with nothing to show for it except for an outstanding debt that needs paying.

We are then told that private millers allegedly brought in almost 30,000 tonnes of maize within less than a week of imports being allowed (we’re told the ship came from Mexico, on pointing out Mexico is too far we are told it came from South Africa, on pressing we’re finally told it was just floating on the high seas trying to hawk maize to passers-by, jamani). Regarding the importers of the maize, the company at the forefront is called Holbud (UK) Limited

According to reports from Kenya’s newspaper of record:

“Two years ago, Holbud was in the news when the parliamentary committee on Agriculture was investigating how the company won a Sh6 billion fertiliser tender and the quality of fertiliser brought in (which has contributed to the food crisis we face)

Holbud was mentioned in Kenya again in 2004 and it was also about a maize scandal. This time NCPB officials sold 1 million bags of maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve to Holbud at “uneconomical prices” which it sold to Zimbabwe “to offset NCPB’s debt to farmers”. Holbud had neither asked to buy the maize nor tendered for it.

Earlier in 2002, the same firm had been allowed to import more than 16,000 tonnes of maize from South Africa, when the Kenya faced a crisis similar to the one we are in today.

Based in the UK, Holbud is run by Hasnain Roshanali Merali, David George Rowe, Mahmood Gulamhusein Khaku and Shaukat Akberali Merali.

But according to court filings in the US, both Holbud and Hydrey (P) Limited are “related companies controlled by Roshan Merali” as the two share directors.

Kenyan government officials say that Holbud was only a transporter of the maize aboard MV IVS Pinehurst, but it named among the importers Kitui Flour Mills, Pembe Flour Mills and Hydrey (P) Limited – meaning that Holbud shipped maize to itself through its sister company, Hydrey.”

The plot thickens…
So GoK then sends its own senior officials to receive this maize at the port that was supposedly bought by private businessmen, it then buys this maize and then sells the same loot to millers (who some say are the very same importers who sold the same maize earlier, so did it even leave the ship?) at subsidised rates. Finally, it then avails unga at 90 bob for the suffering wanainchi. Of course, the same wanainchi will pay for this subsidy from their own taxes since the government doesn’t simply print money. We are subsidising our own flour because the people paid to ensure we have a stock of grains for emergencies (which drought is not actually) either spent their time scratching their scrotal sacks as silos gathered cobwebs, or as some are alleging: they sold off our stockpile to South Sudan and never replenished it.

Some of us would rather we not question the source of this maize or the mechanism by which we have received this subsidy, they feel we should just be grateful to get something to eat. I disagree. I get it, they support your favourite politicians no matter what. Perhaps they even now conclude they have another good reason to buttress stubborn unwavering support for their beloved leaders on the basis that they lowered prices of unga. That’s well within everyone’s right.

But please don’t insult the intelligence of Kenyans by declaring that just because we were starving in the face of unaffordable flour it then follows that we have no right to question the means by which we have received subsidised posho in record time; and this courtesy of millers involved in past grain scandals. We’re not sheep.

The money that pays the rich connected millers to have them ship in, sell maize to GoK, have GoK sell the maize back to them, and then put a sticker on old packets of flour and offer this so called subsidised unga is not from Uhuru’s or Ruto’s (or indeed RAO’s) pocket; it is us, the long-suffering Wanjikus, who will be ultimately paying from our own taxes for this ‘subsidy’ since the government doesn’t simply create money out of thin air but takes it from us, from our sweat. Of course our wonderful leaders won’t be using part of their fabulous wealth to feed us regardless of how much we think they love us and how strongly we feel about them that we’re willing to fight each other to keep them ensconced in palatial public offices and homes.

And do not forget that the fact we have needed this shameful rescue from hunger is itself an indictment on our leadership because it is as a direct result of a lack of planning, pure ineptitude, gross negligence, or perhaps even deliberate and unconscionable sabotage by an unfeeling bureaucracy that you sit there defending.

On 8/8/17 we’ll split the country right down the middle on the basis of tribe as usual, no one will remember the events of the last few weeks.

As for the local farmers, they simply continue to get the middle finger regarding the maize they tried to sell that was earlier rejected, no one offered them a subsidy, GoK is like screw them, let the weevils and rats have a feast. In the meantime, rich millers and connected commodities dealers who knew beforehand before even GoK opened up imports continue to laugh all the way to branches of international banks in the neighbourhoods of their McMansions in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi and other capitals of the world. And we get to have our own money banked for us, the very same monies that will be dished out to us in ninety days to vote enthusiastically for the most generous of our leaders.

On 8/8/17 we’ll split the country right down the middle on the basis of tribe as usual, no one will remember the events of the last few weeks.

#ThisIsKenya

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I stand with our doctors

Nothing that has value, real value, has no cost. Not freedom, not food, not shelter, not healthcare.
~ Dean Kamen

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After all the grandstanding, and the threats, and the dithering, predictably, the chickens are coming  home to roost… Doctors will not back down, and this fight has finally come to a head.

Initially a lot of Kenyans on social media were talking about the doctors’ strike like something that’s way out there, that’s not really touching their lives directly, after all it was just another protest like many others. In fact I even saw some argue that doctors could be proving they are not indispensable because the country had gone 70 days already without doctors and they were still breathing. I just shook my head.

The update-posting, selfie-taking, pizza-eating, mall-cruising, tweeting middle-class did not particularly feel the pinch, not until today. You see many of us have medical covers and are not planning on going to that Vihiga District Hospital where patients relieve themselves in buckets on the ward floor; few of us have ever set foot in Kenyatta Hospital where you can watch a tractor drive out the back every morning with a pile of bodies from the wards headed to a mortuary piled to the ceiling with corpses in various states of decay; many have never been to those level 4 hospitals where you can watch patients die in waiting lines; they couldn’t understand how a quack doctor has been performing caesarian operations in a county for years without detection.

People felt cushioned from the ongoings, aloof to the struggle of the public hospital doctors; after all Aga Khan, Mater, Nairobi, Getrudes, etc, were all still operating at full speed, and with personal doctors sat dutifully at their work stations and doctors’ plazas. That’s until yesterday when things changed. That’s when panic set in, that is when matters were thrown into perspective, that is when shit got real.

I have got news for you: it’s always been real, it hit the fan a long time ago, and for us all. If you ram your jalopy into a truck carrying broilers pumped with steroids at Ngoliba you will not be taken to Karen Hospital, you will be dumped at the nearest public hospital which is manned by those same doctors we watched march on our wall mounted curved screen TVs as we discussed ‘their greed for money’ in our posh accents; your relatives in the sticks don’t have those medical cards to swipe at 5 star hospitals, they depend on those district hospitals where doctors don’t even have gloves or clean syringes, they sorely need those public hospital doctors; mothers giving birth in the boondocks, they don’t have the options of epidurals at fancy hospitals with Cayenne driving doctors; little babies in the ‘reserves’, those don’t have several branches of Getrudes at the corner of every estate. These calibre of patient all need better public hospitals with working facilities and well motivated doctors. In fact we all need the same things they need whether we know it or not.

As a matter of fact, it has been pointed out several times that what we call a middle class in Kenya is just but a working class, basically that means a class that is just one missed salary away from desperation and destitution; lose your job today and of course that medical cover will disappear faster than money is siphoned out of Afya House.

Let me give you a personal story: In December 2005 my late father was preparing to retire for the night at the Nairobi Club when he felt a sharp pain in his upper chest and neck, he called his doctor at Aga Khan, Kisumu, who on hearing the symptoms advised that he take a taxi immediately to Nairobi Hospital because it sounded like the onset of a heart attack. The old man did as he had been told and called a taxi which took him directly to the hospital, in fact he walked by himself from the car to the hospital main door as the taxi guy then left; which is the exact reason he was all by himself when he collapsed right there in the reception. Now the hospital could not book him in unless someone signed a guarantee. By the time they found my mum’s number in his diary and called her and she called me to rush over to the hospital, it was too late. You can’t sit around with a heart attack waiting for a cash guarantee (I hear it is now 600K). In fact in 1996 my dad had fallen gravely ill and been rushed to MP Shah, he was lucky that at that time he was with my mum and they had a Diners’ Club credit card, or they would not have been booked in without a 150,000 shilling cash deposit.

So what’s the point of my story you might be wondering, and just what is its relevance to the current doctors’ strike? Well look at it this way: doctors are fighting to have public hospitals equipped better, working and living conditions improved, and facilities for patients upgraded (it is all there in the dishonoured CBA, but the government would rather you only pay attention to salary demands). If this fight had been won all those years ago and public hospitals were better equipped and manned with motivated staff then it would have made better sense for the taxi driver to take my dad to Kenyatta Hospital instead (where they don’t ask for a Diners’ Club card or a deposit of half a million shillings to admit a dying person), maybe if Kenyatta Hospital or Mbagathi hospital had been a viable option I wouldn’t be writing this today and I would instead be telling you about the pressure from my dad to settle down… These second chances at life, these options for patients everywhere, that is what the doctors are fighting for.

If you are walking by yourself on the street and suddenly fall down in a heap, there’s a very good chance that you’ll find yourself at Mbagathi Hospital or Kenyatta Hospital, than that you’ll end up at Karen Hospital or Aga Khan. And even if you were taken to one of those premier private hospitals, woe be unto thee if you are not walking around with a travellers’ cheque for a million shillings in your pocket, for otherwise you might still find yourself at Mbagathi, if you make it there alive at all. That is when you will understand what the doctors’ strike is about, at that shattering moment when your relatives find you lying alone in a dark corridor because there was no space in the wards, and worse no one knows what’s wrong with you because there’s no functioning X-Ray machine, there’s no basic equipment, no anaesthesia, and in any case the doctors themselves are languishing at King’ong’o, Kamiti, and Kodiaga like common criminals for shining a light on our dark despicable healtchare conditions.

This fight is not just about better salaries for doctors, this fight is not just for the poor that go to public hospitals. This fight is about improving all public health facilities, it is about improving working conditions for medics and ultimately for patients, it is about equipping healthcare facilities with at least the basics. It is a fight that you are invested in whether you realize it or not.

Don’t wait until that day you wake up on the cold cracked floor of a public hospital with nothing but painkillers in your hand and not even a cup of clean water to wash them down with to come to the startling realization that this was your fight.

Don’t wait until that day you will be writing a story about losing a parent(s) at the reception of a private hospital that needed a million shilling deposit to book them in; and worse, they only went there because there was no public hospital in the vicinity that could have saved them.

#IStandWithDoctors #HealthCrisisKE #KMPDU

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The leaders of the future without hope for it

Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.
– Jerry Brown

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Growing up in a small village in the western part of Kenya, I thought I knew struggle. The first school I attended in the late 80s was very rudimentary in terms of infrastructure, and the colonies of jiggers flourishing in the earth floors in the classrooms didn’t lack for food, this is because most pupils went barefoot as cheap plastic Sandak shoes were out of reach for all but a few. To keep the gnats at bay required applying cowdung on floors by hand every Friday (a disgusting task that was not optional), even worse if your family had no cows, or they didn’t do the needful, then you’d have to go to a neighbour’s compound, container in hand, and request a serving of animal waste. Fumigation or other means of pest control was unheard of and most likely unaffordable anyway.

I cannot really say I knew hunger, three meals a day were a given. In deed my biggest worry in those days was getting a shilling to go with to school every day (wrapped in a handkerchief pinned to my chest). Back then a single bob could buy ten vitumbwas or sugarcane almost a metre long come break time, plus there was the free nyayo milk that assuaged the pain of having to cram the dictatorial propaganda that was Nyayo Philosophy.

Fast forward to 2016, thirty years later, and passing through Mandera I behold scenes of kids eager to learn having to make do with: tattered clothing, lessons in swirling dust under thorn trees, a semi-illiterate teacher, no furniture whatsoever, scorching heat. And all these when their diet consists of a cup of black sugar-free tea in the morning that will keep them running till they’ll have some porridge for dinner, plain drinking water is in fact a luxury. I now realize I had it really good growing up actually, my childhood was a walk in the park in comparison. The discomfort of a bloodsucking jigger is tame compared to an empty rumbling belly in dusty forty degree heat; blistering sandak shoes are far more comfortable compared to tiny bare feet on blazing sand in landscapes teeming with scorpions, snakes, and thorns as tough as nails.

These kids don’t need laptops, they need a roof over their makeshift class. They don’t need roadshows, they need school feeding programs, they don’t need non-existent stadia, or fables about sovereign bonds, or yarns about togetherness and unity. It’s water they lack, clothes they don’t have, food they could do with, some shelter that would do them good. These kids just want a qualified teacher. The basics of starting out in education and life.

We need our leaders, if we can call them that, to understand this: we can’t keep our children in such conditions and then boast of percentages in growth while nibbling on croissants and sipping iced tea in air conditioned hotels in cities.

It is the children forgotten in such conditions, without hope and without a future, that we will tomorrow claim to not understand their choice (or lack of choice) in embracing radical strains of politics, extreme religious ideologies, and conversion to mercenaries for hire with little respect for the sanctity of life and human dignity, a dignity they’re denied now.

Wake up. The children are the future. Take care of them today and invest in future stability.

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In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends – MLK, Jr

“The desire of Kenyans is manifest. They know too well that their invincible, invisible, nameless, faceless, yet omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent rulers are condemned to serve them for life!”
― Levi Cheruo Cheptora
Moses Kuria

We have madmen on Kenya’s political scene, utterly despicable men that can make anyone with a modicum of sense choke with anger from just hearing them speak. But normally we rationalize that they are lone ranger loose canons that do not speak for the leadership of the country or their parties; because if they do then we really are in funk.

What strikes me as odd however is that the leadership of said parties never comes out to condemn the utterances of these atrocious characters, and that the same scum continue to walk the streets free while their motormouths are on overdrive inciting hatred and selling the ingredients for bloodshed.

Sample some of the statements attributed to them; statements that go unquestioned and receive little or no condemnation from the powers that be.

May, 2014: In the aftermath of the Gikomba terror attacks, Kuria states that the attacks were by Luos and aimed at Kikuyu businesses, and advocates for tribal war.

January 2015: Moses Kuria states the he fixed Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and he is ready to testify at the ICC; Ruto and Uhuru remain silent

June 2015: “That is why I told you to come with your pangas. It is not for slashing only. A man like that (who opposed NYS) should be slashed,” Kuria said; UhuRuto say nothing.

October 2015: Aladwa says: “2017 imekaribia na sisi kama watu wa ODM tumebaki na risasi moja…this time round the outcome of the election ikiwa tumeshinda na watunyang’anye wacha kiumane..Raila ndio awe President lazima watu wakufe kiasi…”; Raila and the CORD leaders stay quiet, Aladwa remains free and merely issues a statement saying his utterances were misconstrued adding that he meant the deaths would be a result of joy and not violence.

June 2016: MP Kimani Ngunjiri tells his constituents that Luos should be evicted from Nakuru, adding “na sasa tunasema ni bahati yake (Raila) sikuwa hapa…Tungeonana”

June 2016: Kuria states “Raila should be careful because he can still bite the bullet. We won’t be troubled by one person forever. He can as well bite the bullet and we bury him next Monday. His protesters will throw stones for just one week and life continues. If it’s war they want it’s what they’ll get.”

As our leaders continue to watch silently as their liutenants beat the drums of war and fan the flames of tribalism, let them know they will have blood on their hands if the country goes to the dogs. If they insist on turning a blind eye and playing deaf to such alarming statements which are attributed to their footsoldiers, then we have no option but to start to think these are their mouthpieces, that this is what they want for us.

 

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Nothing strengthens impunity so much as silence and fear

To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 

IEBC Protest 2016

The price of free speech; blood and tears.

 

Kenyans, they say we are the most optimistic people in the world, maybe so, because even I thought we had learnt from PEV and never again wasn’t just another cliche. I was very optimistic about 2017, not anymore. Now I sit here wondering whether it will be best to be near the Uganda border immediately after voting.

Going by what I saw yesterday, our uniformed forces clobbering civilians senseless and even shooting protesters in the back (as happened in Kisumu and in slums in 2007/8) is clearly something that can happen again and that if nothing changes we should brace for.

I have heard all the arguments to justify both the protests and the conduct of the police, and I have come to one conclusion: on which side the law and right falls depends on which tribe the person commenting belongs to most of the time.

Thugs who infiltrated a lawful protest are being described as CORD supporters by Jubilee supporters, outlaw rogue police who waded into crowds with “jembe” stumps and bludgeoned everyone in sight are being defended as acting with reasonable restraint by government supporters; in the meantime pockets of CORD supporters saw it fit to attend a peaceful protest armed with stones and other projectiles, some of them saw it fit to try and uproot a railway line later on in the evening. All worryingly reminiscent of the spontaneous chaos nine years ago.

We are in trouble. I don’t think the country has ever been this divided and most people this blind to their own prejudices, or perhaps everyone is fully aware of the chasm and are choosing to deliberately walk on the edge of this blade.

In the meantime, our names continue to betray us.

“with the police doing all the killing, who do we call when our hero’s are the villain”
― O.S. Hickman 

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Dividing the Kenyan electorate: The Gift that keeps on giving….

If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates. ~Jay Leno

The contempt in which our 'leaders' hold us... (image from http://mavulture.com/)

The contempt in which our ‘leaders’ hold us… (image from http://mavulture.com/)

Sigh….

It is a wonderful 1st of August in Kenya today as the venerable Moses Kuria (more or less) becomes the next MP for Gatundu South, that’s the president’s backyard, as his opponent Kamere ‘withdraws’

“Kuria becomes the first MP to go in unopposed in more than a decade since Gideon Moi did it in 2002.”

This news of the unopposed ascendancy to power is courtesy of Ole Itumbi. (who however embellished the truth somewhat because Kamere’s withdrawal leaves one opponent for Kuria, Boniface Njoroge of Kenya National Congress)

In case you’ve forgotten (or haven’t heard), Kuria is the courageous misunderstood genius who wrote/spoke this gems of patriotism (and for which he appeared at the Nairobi Chief Magistrate’s court on charges of incitement, hate speech and causing ethnic contempt, for which he was released on a Sh2 million cash bail and Sh5 million bond:

“why only consult certain regions and yet one of the agenda 4 dialogue is inclusivity?” Foreskin misleads the mind” – from his twitter @HonMosesKuria

“I am sure of many things but am (sic) not clear whether ODM is working for Al Shabaab or Al Shabaab is working for ODM”

“You don’t coordinate terrorist attacks from Bostom and get away with it”

(these quotes courtesy of the Kenyan-post)

“The new attack in Lamu confirms that the CORD armed wing (Al Shabaab) is providing rear cover for the political wing ahead of Sabasaba.” (from his twitter page)

In one instance on a post on his Facebook page where he had written this post:

“I think its just a matter of time before Kenyans start violence against PERCEIVED terrorists, their sympathisers, their financiers and those issuing travel advisories without sharing intelligence. I am not sure I will not be one of those Kenyans. When you touch Gikomba the nerve centre of our economic enterprise,you really cross the line. Brace yourself. Choices have consequences”;

A character calling himself ‘Kofia Mbaya’ replies “it’s not Somali’s throwing grenades, it is Odhiambos”

and Kuria matter of factly replies: “We will kill both” (screenshots at nairobiexposed.blogspot.de)

We get the leaders we deserve……

We’d all like to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate. ~Kin Hubbard

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Irony: Responding to carnage with ethnic division in the face of a common enemy

The cretins are winning, the killers have us by our gonads, and it is all because we took their bait and decided to play this game, this deadly game, their way.

I don’t often quote Tony Blair, after all if I were to channel the much more progressive Noam Chomsky then I’d recall that he aptly said “Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism”, in which case I’d have to classify Blair and his pal Bush as among the worst of the lot. But still one of Blair’s quotes rings true, that: “The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.”

And therein lies our biggest problem. That we have swallowed the gambit, and we’ve brought out the ethnic bogeyman in response to the wave of attacks in our midst.

The Aftermath of Arson and gun attack in Mpeketoni.

The Aftermath of Arson and gun attack in Mpeketoni.

You see terrorism by nature is a form of psychological warfare, a propaganda assault of sorts. Those who trade in murder and mayhem ultimately aim at to manipulate us and force us to make changes in outlook and thinking by creating morbid fear, uncertainty and limbo, and divisions based on irrational and illogical reasons in society.”

We need to step back, examine how we have responded to the recent on social media and in conversations with friends and families and ask ourselves if whoever is attacking us isn’t succeeding.

I am very disappointed that I look around and see that these faceless murderous bigots have succeeded in leaving most of us with our undies in a bunch as we:

  • Spew vitriol at perceived tribal enemies,
  • Cook up fantastic conspiracy theories that are borderline insane as well as incendiary and
  • More or less get paralysed from thinking of much else when we have so much more to fear than sporadic attacks from deranged murdering bastards.

I have come to the conclusion that we are our own worst enemies, or at least our collective inability to see beyond our own noses is, basically:

  • Anybody who thinks that these are attacks targeted at just a particular tribe or ethnic group needs to have their head examined.
  • Anybody who imagines the opposition in Kenya is really that well organized, and shockingly diabolic, that they’d pull off hours of indiscriminate slaughter to further an agenda needs to check if the doctor dropped them on their heads at birth.
  • Anybody who swallowed the sad and pathetic deflection and prevarication that Ole Lenku gave in the name of assurances, as well as the reckless allusions to a certain prominent individual being somehow tied in with these atrocities deserves the reaming they are getting.
  • Lastly, anybody who imagines we can solve conflicts rooted in religious differences and/or ethnicity by throwing in more religion of our own and engaging in a pissing contest about whose God is greater, or by balkanising and banding together in ethnic cocoons, deserves a Darwin award themselves.

It would do well to remember that terrorism itself is not limited to attacks on malls, or markets, or buses. We should not lose sight of challenges that simmer below the surface that terrorize us more than the perceived terrorists who dominate our national dialogue. We should not take our foot off the government’s neck in terms of demanding accountability and the provision of basics of life as mandated in our constitution (basics which lack of murders more of us than any terrorists ever have).

In the words of Pope Francis: “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.”

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