Posts Tagged Jubilee

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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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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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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A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right but to know what is right

“No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.” 
― John Adams

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Uhuru might not cooperate with the ICC after all, cooperate here might not mean what we think it means, so before we get our underwear in a bunch we need to ask what is really being demanded. I believe Uhuru has yet to say he intends to completely disregard the court proceedings and thus invite a warrant of arrest from the ICC in the mould of the butcher of Darfur; what I think has been requested is that his actual presence at trials be dispensed with given his busy schedule and status, something that is not unreasonable if you ask me.

I’ve been wondering what it would take away from Bensouda to allow Uhuru to use a video link instead of having him sitting there on his hands, wild eyed and pensive in the dock just listening to testimony after testimony when he’s not required to contribute a thing, perhaps for weeks, and as a result demeaning our office of the presidency (the office, not the man; but the man just happens to be in that office regardless of how or by what margin).

I know he was not president when this cases begun, I know he said it was a personal matter, but I also know that we knew (at least those of us with a modicum of sense) that if he became president then things would somewhat change, in fact those who had their eyes open knew that that very leverage a president has in getting some reprieve from the indignities of trial is what drove team UhuRuto to burn the candle at both ends to deliver ‘victory’ to Jubilee.

I am aware that as usual the ordinary mwananichi cannot see beyond tribe and party affiliation, and so the cabal around Uhuru would have us believe that Raila controls the ICC and is to blame for all of this, that’s bullshit, UK and Ruto asked to take the ICC option themselves, I am also aware that supporters of CORD, who number almost half those who voted, might not be ready to accept UK as ‘their’ president and would love to see him squirm in the dock at the ICC, that’s like cutting off our noses to spite our faces, the guy happens to be our Commander in Chief and as such his humiliation is our humiliation as a country and a proud country at that.

Madam Bensouda, I’d suggest that if Uhuru is willing to continue with this trial and that all he asks is not to have to appear in person for every single sitting unless his testimony is required of course, can you please be a little accommodating. What will it take away from the court to use a video link? It will certainly take away less than it will from us as a sovereign country having to watch the public humiliation of their head of state for months on end.

A friend of mine, a lawyer by profession, adds:

“On the whole ICC saga and UK’s appearance at The Hague, he may have some merit in asking the court to be more accommodating. There have been no cases where a sitting president has been tried by an international court, however there are a few cases in a number of jurisdictions where the law grants presidents special protection (South Africa) Nelson Mandela had appointed a Comm. Of Inquiry in a manner that contravened the law, he was called before the High Court to testify. His lawyers tried to prevent him from testifying given his status as President, however he came and testified nevertheless. On appeal before the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, the CC stated that where a President is called as a witness, special arrangements are often provided for in the way evidence is given. It adds ‘Courts are supposed to ensure that the status, dignity and efficiency of the OP is protected…at the same time however, the administration of justice cannot be impeded by the court’s desire to ensure that the dignity of the President is safeguarded.’ So we see to aspects of the public interest – respecting the office on the one hand, and not impeding justice on the other. The two must be balanced. The court added this gem ‘Except in exceptional circumstances requiring the President to give evidence, the special dignity and status of the President together with his busy schedule and the importance of his work must be taken into account.’ (USA) In 1991 then Governor Bill Clinton propositioned one Ms. Jones, four years later she sued President Clinton for sexual harassment. Merits aside, the Supreme Court, on appeal, stated the following: ‘The testimony of the President may be taken at the White House to accommodate his busy schedule, and that if a trial is held, there would be no necessity for the President to attend, though he could elect to do so.’ The court added that while the President can be tried, ‘High respect is owed to his office…’ When a president testifies, respect for the office, the need to reserve his dignity, and an understanding of the implications of his busy schedule must be carefully considered. (Germany) The German Civil Procedure Codes explicitly state that a President need not attend court in person and may give testimony at home. He may also refuse to give evidence were it to be detrimental to the Federal Republic of Germany or a German State. Those three jurisdictions are what I can find and recall from administrative law. They can be distinguished in some ways. One, this isn’t the ordinary judicial body of a state, it’s an international court. Two, the nature of the crimes may be the ‘exceptional case’ the South African court spoke of and thus are more grievous offences as compared to Mandela’s wrong COI appointment or Clinton’s pre-Lewinsky philandering. My personal opinion is that the ICC has failed to be more accommodating, it is still bound by principles of International Law – of which include the principles created by the courts of states such as South Africa, the USA and Germany. The court has failed to accord even an inkling of respect, dignity and accommodation to Kenyatta – they could have reached a balance of the two aforementioned interests by even sitting in Arusha. UK must be tried for these offences, that I fully advocate for, however, I’m of the view that the Trial Chamber and the OTP should reconsider their stance on how Kenyatta will testify.  “

“In my country, we go to prison first and then become President.”
— Nelson Mandela

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The plutocrats won again, as always. Now get back to the drudgery of making them richer.

“Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”
― Thomas Jefferson

capitalism-pyramid-simplified

The loud cacophony of the campaigns is a distant memory, the razzmatazz of the manifesto launches all but forgotten, the vitriol and name-calling of the rallies no longer daily fare, and finally we are getting back to our senses as long-time friends who could not see eye to eye over their tribal kingpins start to text each other with requests for that MPesa soft loan required to cover the deficits brought on by our food and alcohol binging in either celebration of “victory” or anger at a perceived injustice of a “loss”.

Well the election results were announced, the ensuing court proceedings have been concluded, and the verdict was read out in about five minutes.

I can only hope we, both those that think they won something and those that feel they lost something, can come to a realization that we are nothing but mere pawns without any real choice in the matter of who wields executive power in this country. You do not choose your leaders, they choose you; they choose you when they need you and that just happens to be at election time, then we are back to the daily struggle for subsistence, that holds true for the vast majority of voters.

Those of us who live in slums and supported Uhuru are still in the same hovels with bloated egos and empty stomachs, our names will not give us entry to the house on the hill. Those of us who supported Raila and live in far flung dirt poor villages are still in the same hamlets nursing our bruised egos while facing the constant threat of hunger, if a retirement package is signed into law for the former PM we shall not be getting a slice of it. Both UK and RAO get to get chauffeured home in luxury limousines, dine on gourmet meals, lie on silk bedsheets, and prance around on cashmere rugs. Their children will go to prep schools and Ivy league colleges. Yours will not.

Nothing will change for you. Nothing ever does for the majority of us when the wealthy are playing their Game of Thrones.

So rather than worrying about power at a grand scale that you really have no control over, sit back and think, think, think; and instead occupy yourself with: things that are within your purview, things that appear small and insignificant, things that can change the attitude of or educate just one single bigoted friend. And let the children know there is hope.

In the words of an American scribe who inspires me and from an article of his I read recently: “Do what you can within reach of your arm, because anything you touch is part of a tapestry that reaches far and wide, even unto the highest and mightiest seats of power. Do what is possible within reach of your arm, make the weak mighty and give the voiceless a clarion call right where you are, where you live and breathe, within reach of that strong, sure arm. Do what you can, always.”

“Those in power must spend a lot of their time laughing at us.”
― Alice Walker

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Sorry Mr. new MP; we should not and cannot pay for a burden placed on yourself by your selfish need for re-election

“Those from whose pocket the salary is drawn, and by whose appointment the officer was made, have always a right to discuss the merits of their officers, and their modes of exercising the duties they are paid to perform.”
Charles Babbage

Taxes must be paid by MPs, say angry Kenyans

Taxes must be paid by MPs, say angry Kenyans

As newly elected MPs grumble over lowered pay, here’s my two cents: Kenyans need to be made aware that it is not an MP’s job to feed, clothe, take them to hospital, repair their roads, fundraise for them, bury them, etc. An MP makes laws, that’s it; that’s what he’s paid to do.

Now every MP can choose to be a legislator doing what he’s paid to (and probably not get re-elected); or they can choose to perpetuate the culture of handouts and let “wananichi” continue with the assumption that MP’s are cash cows (usually for the sake of of their own re-electtion). But they should only do the latter if it is funded by their own resources; especially as most already spend millions campaigning to get in knowing fully well their salaries won’t cover such expense.

The premise that MPs are an unofficial welfare system still does nothing to to further their odious push for inordinately high pay -especially as there exists a Constituency Development Fund-in the face of mass poverty in the proletariat. There’s really no way to justify higher and unsustainable pay for duties they’ve taken on that are not part of their job description and which in fact create an endemic and problematic culture that fosters misrepresentation of what an MP’s work is, and this to the detriment of future aspirants.

Otherwise MPs might as well come clean and tell the world that their motivation is money, not service, which then means we are looking at future actors in sleaze and graft since it is quite clear that that is but the only other avenue left to recoup campaign spend as well as feather nests while playing daddy to entire constituencies.

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