Monday, October 5, 2009



October 5 2009

Kenya badly needs the help of the international community to overcome all its daunting challenges, ranging from the limping reform process to a stuttering economy.
Karibu Kenya, Dr Annan. I would be tempted to tell you that “Kenya Hakuna Matata”, but then I am not given to blatant lies, even in the course of doing PR for my country. The fact is that Kenya Kuna Matata Mingi.

I sincerely hope that is the message you very firmly delivered to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga at your tete-a-tete yesterday.

I also hope that you reminded the so-called principals that neither of them have a mandate from Kenyans. They derive their mandate from you, in the form of the ceasefire that you helped put together to stop poor, foolish and ignorant Kenyan peasants and slum-dwellers slitting each others’ throats while the leaders quaffed champagne and discussed business deals.

If President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga recognise from whence they derive that their mandates, then they should respectfully listen if you told them the plain and brutal truth.

One self-evident truth is that they occupy their respective offices, not to enjoy the transient trappings of shared power, but as mere caretakers with one principal task: Delivering on the reforms package agreed on to save this country from becoming yet another failed African state.

You should have put it to them firmly that history will treat them very harshly if they allow petty politics and selfish greed and ambition to derail them from that sacred duty. They jointly hold the future of this country in their hands.

It is they who have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading the transitional administration charged only with effecting essential reforms so that come 2012, Kenyans will have the opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.

After the experience of 2007, it is obvious that Kenya cannot afford to go into an election that would lead to bloodshed and dismemberment of the nation.

If Agenda 4 reforms are not completed in good time – ahead of the pre-election jockeying for position – then this country will be headed over the precipice.

Responsibility rests on all Kenyans to play their part towards ensuring passage of a comprehensive reform package broadly acceptable to all.

But the steering wheel remains in the hands of the two principals who must display the mixture of leadership, statesmanship and tact required to safely navigate the turbulent waters.

Dear Dr Annan, I am confident that you will deliver this message to our leaders without equivocation. I am also confident that you will temper your firmness with diplomacy and good manners.

This should be unlike those bullying Americans and their European surrogates who believe the only way to pressure Africans is through threats, insults and the whip.

While at it, also, I am sure you will have studied the South Consulting report commissioned by your office on the status of the reform process.

That way, you will engage Kenyan leaders from a position of knowledge and information, and you will be able to point out exactly where progress is not up to expectation; and to acknowledge where things have gone well.

It would not help to come out with blanket condemnation devoid of facts. In fact when you meet Western diplomats and their local bootlickers and cheerleaders, it might help to firmly point out to them that some of their noisy interventions do more harm than good.

The point is that the Kenyan leadership may not boast a popular mandate, and neither is it in a position to make high-sounding protestations about sovereignty and all that.

It is also a fact that Kenya badly needs the help of the international community to overcome all its daunting challenges, ranging from the limping reform process to a stuttering economy.

A hand up, however, is always much more effective than a kick on the backside.

Only a very foolish and arrogant person would fail to recognise that the President and the Prime Minister cannot, on their own, dictate reform. Every proposal that needs legislative action must pass through Parliament, and lawmakers cannot be forced by anyone, including the mighty United States, the ex-colonial power, Britain, and the entire European Union, to vote a certain way or face personal sanctions.

Please Dr Annan, impress on the American and British envoys, in particular, that while pressure is welcome, it must be smart pressure, not dumb threats and actions bound to backfire and play into the hands of anti-reformists.