Monday, October 13, 2008



October 13 2008

By Stephen Mutoro

I read with interest a story in The Standard claiming President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the African Union were joint competitors to Martti Ahtisaari, a United Nations envoy, for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The story had the headline ‘Kibaki, Raila miss Nobel Peace Prize’, even though the two were not among the known nominees. The writer was not as generous with Ahtisaari, who was on the list, reducing him to a "surprise winner" as if to imply that he was perhaps lesser qualified than Kenya’s two ‘principals’.

Unknown to the writer, the former president of Finland has been in contention for years.

While it was said "some western media houses had bet (Kibaki and Raila) would win", they were actually on a long list of guesses put out by a Norwegian peace researcher.

I refuse to accept it was ever taken seriously. While the two signed a national accord, they possibly had everything to do with the chaos and almost nothing to do with the current "peace". Mere absence of violence is not peace. This could be a temporary reprieve. But with ‘Agenda Number Four’ items in abeyance, apart from the two leaders sharing power, there is little evidence the country is peaceful. Not with the internally displaced still homeless and most of the resettled still uncertain about their fate.

There is more to an individual’s contribution to peace to deserve a Nobel than is needed for public acclamation and proclamations on who deserves such a prestigious honour.One would be undermining the profile and essence of the Nobel Peace Prize to say that just because we no longer have post-election violence, we need to fete the two individuals.

Even if the decision of the Nobel prize committee was delegated to Kenyans to vote for the person(s) who deserve the award locally, it remains doubtful that the two would be among the top contenders.

Why? The circumstances that led to the chaos largely resulted from an unfair competition spirit, to hold onto their positions come what may. Taken together with a winner-takes-it-all political reality, neither of the two protagonists-turned-work-mates could espouse the fears and needs of either party. As a result, violence was inevitable whichever way the election results pointed, rigged or not. The ego aspect, fuelled by hardliners on both sides, was so strong that one’s win or loss was sure to be misinterpreted.

Success story

From the 2005 referendum to the General Election, it was clear the tussle went far beyond the presidency, at least for their respective supporters. It was wholly about who controls the ‘national cake’ and ensures that the other party misses out.

The two principals, whose battle for the top seat brought chaos, remain the only ones who can unlock the root cause of post-election violence. Then as at now, albeit suppressed for the moment, the two gentlemen represented the incompatible faces of their supporters who could only see their future dreams come through vide their respective anointed one.

It, therefore, defeats logic for anyone to suggest Kibaki and Raila contributed to peace. On the contrary, it was international pressure and other circumstances that compelled them to unite as ‘work-mates’ rather than as allies. If it were within their making, basic issues such as agreeing on the Cabinet line-up would not have taken more than a fortnight.

If Kibaki and Raila really deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, we would have seen their Government working as a team, at least by now. But when former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya had sleepless nights over the Grand Regency hotel sale, he pointed accusing fingers at Cabinet colleagues from the other side. And when Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ almost had it rough, there were no ministers from ‘the other side’ behind him.

Do Kibaki and Raila deserve to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize? No. Not until they narrow the differences, mistrust and fears between their supporters.

Not until they address the fate of the internally displaced and those whose livelihoods were destroyed. Not until they realise a new constitution. Not until ‘Agenda Four’ becomes reality. And not until they confess what they know and did about post-election chaos.


Brian Barker said...
October 13, 2008 at 10:46 PM  

I regret that the much neglected language, Esperanto did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At least nine British MP's nominated this global language, for the Prize.

Within a short period of 121 years Esperanto is now placed within the top 100 languages, out of 6,000 worldwide according to the CIA factbook. It is the 17th most used language by Wikipedia, and it is in active use by Facebook and Skype.

Solid arguments for Esperanto can be seen on the Youtube video, by Professor Piron, a former translator at the United Nations.

If you have time please check