Posts Tagged JAP
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
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.
Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
~ John Kenneth Galbraith
Peter Kenneth, the guy Miguna Miguna says he’d put in charge of beauty contests in the county, is a funny guy; either that or very naive, or both. He’s written a formal letter complaining that Nairobi Governor nominations aren’t free and fair, hahaha….
So this man gets into a contest for arguably the most lucrative job in Kenya (besides the presidency) with two of the most battle hardened, crude, unscrupulous, and recalcitrant Jubilee mandarins in Nairobi and then he expects it will be a clean fight? What is this guy smoking? He thought nominations in Nairobi would be a smooth affair like chomping on an aromatic Habanos Cohiba cigar while lounging on the terrace of his mansion in Runda as a flute of Chateau Margaux wine percolates on his quartz topped table? What a joke.
This is Kenya, and Nairobi is the capital city that’s inhabited by the toughest of the lot: the status quo operatives, the pharmacists without chemists, and the wheeler dealer tenderpreneurs that supply air to the City Council, they run this joint. There’s no Madam Head of Civil Service to hold anyone’s hand here, bedroom bully credentials won’t count, you’re on your own. This is a fight to the death and rules don’t apply. This is Sonko and Doctor Bishop territory, straight out of MKU and St. Paul’s Universities with two year degrees without ever attending class; this is jailbird space and your opponents have already earned their stripes, with Mike having already done time at (and escaped from) Shimo La Tewa, and Doctor Bishop cooling her heels at Parklands Police Station cells as we speak. This is blue-collar roll up your sleeves and pop your collar work, it requires people that have lived by their wit and balls before and amassed wealth by taking food out of the mouths of babies by either the sword or the word; white collar stroke of the pen chicanery like the sort that brought Kenya Reinsurance to its knees won’t work here.
You’re in the throes of the very contest that made Baba Yao throw his hands up in exasperation and decide he’s better off retreating to face Don Kabogo in Kiambu. You’ve been thrown into the pits of the coliseum my friend, and there’s no escape, you’ll just have to grapple with these baby powder producing and “the seed” eating street fighters.
Like Johnny Vigeti of Kalamashaka rhymed in Punchline Kibao
“Zinedine Zidane, starting line up ya Real Madrid na hiyo inamaanisha huku hutoboi kudai number
Plus striker wao ashachoka, ako hoi anadai sub- ha!
Ni mambo na ku-mark territory, kwa hivyo ma-doggy za mitaa zingine hazikojoi mitaani hapa
Kuifanya iwe ngumu kwa huyu jamaa wa yoh-yoh ku-buy manga”
Besides, I’d have thought having been in Starch and all that, PK must have heard of the George Bernard Shaw quote
“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
Welcome to Nairobbery Muthungu wa Gatanga, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere
Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.
– Jerry Brown
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.
To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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