Saturday, November 7, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
November 6, 2009

The last time there was similar media frenzy when Ocampo arrived in Kenya this week was when Kofi Annan landed in town to begin mediation talks in January 2008.

It was understandable at that time because Kenya was burning. Suddenly the political class had lost control of militias and village vigilantes. There were roadblocks and toll stations everywhere. Opportunistic criminals had emerged from their hideouts to cash in on the mayhem caused by political agitators. I could not drive to my house 5km from my market center everybody knew me so well without paying “access” fee to my house.

Why do I have this feeling that we are missing the point when discussing Moreno Ocampo’s visit to Kenya? Why do I have this feeling that arguments being advanced for or against the ICC involvement in Kenya are misplaced? Do Kenyans really want to face the reality why foreigners and the ICC are “meddling” in the internal affairs of our country? Or is it a question of choosing to bury our heads in the sand rather than face the discomforting truth?

Moreno Ocampo is here because he works for the ICC in The Hague. He did not choose to come here without some mandate. That mandate belongs to the International Court of Justice that in turn draws its powers and legitimacy from the United Nations Assembly.

Ocampo is getting involved in Kenya because a crime against humanity was committed on our soil by citizens of this country against their own people. If some Kenyan leaders had not organized to derail the election process through unacceptable methods, if some Kenyan leaders had not planned and financed the mayhem as others organized retaliatory acts with equal atrocities, Ocampo would today not be visiting us.

As a country, let us wake up to the reality that the problems we have with the international community are of our own making. We tend to progress one step towards a civilized democracy but take three steps backwards to pre-medial cultures. If it were not so, then how do we explain a thoroughly successful 2002 elections that became the pride of Africa only to relapse in to Stone Age barbarism five years later?

In discussing the Ocampo factor in our judicial system, let us come to terms with our condition and live with it. It is a fact that crimes of international magnitude were committed in Kenya for two weeks between December 30 2007 and January 2008. It is a fact that close to 1500 innocent Kenyans lost their lives, with thousands more losing their limbs, relatives and property. All these people need justice one way or the other. We cannot wish their pain away much as we would like to do so.

The reason there has been no single conviction for these crimes almost 22 months later is because our Justice System packed up a long time ago. It is there in the form of buildings and head counts but not in the spirit of a functional judicial system. If it did, Ocampo would not have visited Kenya when he did.

Pundits and experts in law have been quick to dismiss the ICC as premature and uncalled for. Others have hailed it as opportune to nail the lords of impunity.

However, both sides are missing the point. He is here not to maliciously punish our opponents as he rewards us. He is here to execute blind justice that has eluded Kenya for the past three decades, a culture that has finally blossomed into a full blown state of anarchy from time to time.

This fast escalating lawlessness is what concerns ordinary Kenyans and their friends. When civil unrest occurs, people who bear the brunt of this mayhem are ordinary folks like that flower farm laborer in Naivasha who lost eleven members of his family that were locked up and burned alive for an incident in Eldoret he never participated in. This is one of the tragic heroes nobody wants to talk about.

They are the ordinary slum dwellers who are confronted by trigger happy state security who, when they invade the area, make no distinction between rowdy youths uprooting railway lines and ordinary Mama Mbogas just there to eke out a living.
If atrocities like the Eldoret and Naivasha burnings can take place and our justice system takes 22 months doing nothing, can we for sure blame the international community for intervening prematurely? Can we claim that we as Kenyans are still capable of running our own affairs?

Yes, we are a sovereign state but our sovereignty must come with responsibility. We cannot cling to it as we slaughter our brothers and sisters in a world that has become a global village.

We Kenyans must appreciate that the world has never been the same since Hitler ordered the slaughter of 6 million Jews on account of race alone. That crime was a wakeup call to the entire human race. Because the perpetrators of the Jewish genocide are still being hunted up to today, we have to accept the reality that latter day perpetrators of similar crimes in Rwanda, Liberia, Serra Leone, Bosnia, Sudan and Kenya will never rest in peace. The world will not allow it much as we would not like their intervention.
That is the way it is