Friday, July 31, 2009

MUSEVENI DROPS TRIBAL BOMBSHELL IN UGANDA

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JULY 15, 2009
KAMPALA, UGANDA

From President Yoweri Museveni
To Hon Beatrice Wabudeya, Minister of The Presidency
CC The Minister of Internal Affairs

RE: Guidance on Banyoro Bafuuriki question.

This is to guide you in the tasks you are to handle in the matter of the Banyoro-Bafuriki question in Bunyroro Region. You should, first of all, define the problem. What is the problem? The problem, obviously, is the modus vivendus between the Banyoro and the Bafuriki in terms of land, and political rights.

This is on top of the old problem of the British Colonialists and Mengo sub-imperialists that grabbed land from Banyoro and engaged in a genocide in the region, resulting into the depopulation of the area. This means, essentially, three elements in the problem.

●The land grabbed by the British colonialists and their Mengo-sub imperialists and turned into Mailo land.
●The land currently being occupied by the Bafuruki that was part of the former public land including the forest reserve, beyond the original settlements of Luteete (Rutete) and Kisiita that were promoted by the government without foreseeing the consequences; and
●The resultant threatened political marginalization of the indigenous groups of the area-The Banyoro, the Bagungu, the Bachope, the Baruuli, Banyara, and the Bahiima.

We, the NRM members, being nationalists and panafricanists, cannot undermine our vision and program by associating ourselves with the vulgarized versions of “national integration.”

Genuine national integration must include scrupulous respect of everybody’s rights to the land of their heritage, politics, and culture. To do otherwise, is, actually, to undermine our vision and program. It is to make the threatened groups resent or even resist, legitimately, our invaluable vision. In any situation, we should always ask ourselves “where is justice in this case?” The NRM must always fight of justice –for just causes. I am not, for instance, a monarchist. The area of Ankole, where I come from, is, obviously, thriving without a monarchy. Nevertheless, you remember that I spearheaded the restoration of monarchies in the parts of Uganda that wanted them. This was part of my nationalism and part of my panafricanism eventually.

Therefore, in the case of the Bunyoro Region, it is clear that the Banyoro are legitimately there because that is their origin. The Bafuuriki are also legitimately there because some were settled there by the central government, or, the Late Sir Tito Winyi while others have, subsequently, bought land from the original Bafuuriki, the Banyoro, or the absentee Mengo landlords. If the indigenous Banyoro had not been bled by colonialism and Mengo sub-imperialism, such an infusion of Bafuuriki would not have caused disequilibrium.

The Ankole-Mpororo area (Ankole, Rukungiri and Kanungu) is such an example. There, the Bafuuriki were settled in the amahamba (unoccupied wilderness) but the indigenous population remained in the core part of the area in large numbers. The Bafuuriki in such cases are, actually, an advantage for the areas. There can only be some minor problems like those affecting the Banyabutumbi a sub-group of the Banyakore Bahororo that used to live in Imaramagambo forest. The issues of such groups should also be addressed in a conscious way using administrative actions before they become radicalized.

The vulgarized version of integration goes like this: “We are Ugandans and we all have equal inherent rights in all parts of Uganda”-right to property, all political rights such as competing for political offices. That is correct as long as you ensure that in exercise of those inherent rights, you do not fundamentally damage the legitimate inherent rights of others- especially of those indigenous to the area. If that happens, the central government must come in to regulate the enjoyment of the inherent rights of the respective groups so that disequilibrium does not develop or become entrenched.

To throw more light on the incorrectness of the vulgarized version of integration, I would like to pose some few questions.
(i) If the Bafuuriki dominate political space in the area to which they migrated, where do the indigenous people of the area find another political space?

(ii) If the Bafuuriki were more nationalistic, why could they not find some person among the indigenous people and vote for them?

(iii) Can some people from indigenous groups successfully compete, politically in the areas of origin of the Bafuuriki? If not, is this not unequal relationship?

(iv) Suppose we were to infuse 100,000 Bafuuriki into Acholi or Karamoja, what would be the reaction? If the Acholis and Karamajongs were to react violently, would it mean that they are not Ugandan enough or would it be that the policy was wrong?

Horizontal rural migration by peasants after they have exhausted land in one area is not a progressive way of creating national integration. The more correct way is vertical migration, from the farm to the factory. That is why the factories should be detribalization centres through the use of Swahili on the work site.

Some people confuse normal individual migration with the mass insertion of big groups into an already enfeebled population on account of history. These are easy to distinguish from what we are talking about in Bunyoro. In 1955 the Banyankore (through their Ishengero) elected Hon. Kapa an immigrant from Rwanda as their first MP along with Hon. Katiti. This was positive and, besides, Kapa was a munyakorenised mufuuriki. He was, therefore, capable of defending the multidimentional interests of the Banyakore groups that is economic, political and cultural. Is this not different from a situation where two significant but different cultural groups are precipitately juxtaposed with each other? Is the situation in Bunyoro unique or otherwise?

Having thought about all this for a long time, I am proposing the following principles to be part of the solutions.
1. Ring-fencing the LC 5 positions in the whole of Bunyoro region for the indigenous people; and also ring-fencing the sub-county leadership in the whole of Bunyoro.

2. Ring-fencing the positions of Member of Parliament in the whole of Bunyoro region for the indeginous people except for the special constituencies created around Rutete (Lutete) and Kisita resettlement schemes. Number and two will in the spirit of article of 9 and article 10 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda. They were also envisaged by article 32 of the constitution of Uganda which talked about affirmative action in favour of marginalized groups by reason of history or otherwise for the purpose of redressing imbalances that exist against them.

3. All the indigenous people that were on the Mailo land in 1964 should be granted ownership and the absentee landlords should leave the land. All the indeginous people that have been on public land should get titles ownership of that land. The Bafuuriki in the settlement schemes already have their land and should get titles if they do not have them. The Bafuuriki who bought land legally should have their rights recognized.

4. All the illegal encroachers in forest reserves should be evicted without compensation as the normadic cattle keepers of Buliisa are being settled in Buganda.

5. The towns and trading centre should be exempted from these affirmative action measures. They should be free for all Ugandans. This is the healthy integration. The totally integrated Uganda should have its nucleus in the urban centers, factories, the hotels, the shops, the real estate etc. in oreder to promote healthy integration, industrialization should be promoted to pull redundant population from rural areas to the urban areas. Here there should be no regulation beyond ensuring that the workers are Ugandans.

6. The indigenous people who get land should be prohibited from selling the land for 20years and also leasing it.

7. A program of sensitising the Banyoro and Bafuuriki should be promoted.

8. Government should have a special program for developing Bunyoro using money provided by the central government including the British funds.

9. Finally there should a sunset clause to terminate or cause a review of this policy after 20years.

All this is a consequence of the colonial policies also supported by the traditional chiefs like of Mengo in Uganda, of discouraging the use of Swahili as a national language. If the people of Bunyoro-the Banyoro or the Bafuuriki were using Swahili, their differences would be submerged. It is the use of vernacular that provokes, in part, these contradictions. I like the indeginous languages, in fact I am about to complete a dictionary in Runyakore-Rukiga. However, I see these vanaculars not as an end in themselves. I see them as a source of enriching Swahili. That is why NRM promotes Swahili. We included it in the constitution; we use it in the army etc.

The committee, should, therefore, look at the principles I have mentioned above and see them work. You should also identify any other problems that I have not identified and propose solutions. You should propose any solutions you feel are useful in the areas for which I have suggested solutions.

Yoweri K. Museveni.
President
Cc VP, PM,
All Members of Cabinet Subcommittee of Bunyoro Issues,
Head of Public Service,
P.Secretary Office of the President.

NB The letter was read over the radio.

EVOLUTION MAKING WOMEN MORE BEAUTIFUL, SEXUALLY MORE PRODUCTIVE

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By: Charles Onyango-Obbo

You will have heard or read about the study released last week that suggested that evolution is making women more beautiful.

We men, on the other hand, are still "stuck in the Stone Age in terms of attractiveness," as The Sunday Times (London) put it.

The study by Markus Jokela, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, using data gathered in the USA, demonstrated that beautiful women had more children than their less beautiful counterparts. The other striking thing is that a higher proportion of those children were female.

The children also tended to be attractive and go on to repeat the pattern of having more female children once they became adults, according to the study.

The study found attractive women had 16 per cent more children, and very attractive women had 6 per cent more children than their less attractive counterparts.

But the study found that the opposite is true for men, with handsome ones being no more successful than others in terms of number of children.

Scientists said this suggested there was little pressure for men's appearance to evolve. In other words, an ugly man (especially if he is smart and successful), will still get himself a beautiful woman.

From an African perspective, this is interesting for slightly different reasons.

First, one striking thing about Africa, especially if you go to schools where children of middle class parents study, is that these children tend to resemble, and it can be quite frustrating locating your little one in the mad house.

The result is that what you would call the "typical tribal look" has all but disappeared. This development started when, increasingly, more educated and urbanised parents stopped scarring their children with ethnic ritual marks on the forehead or cheeks.

Thus the school children today have no ethnic marks, or if they do, they are fewer than their parents had. And their parents have fewer than their grandparents.

Then, the rise of the middle class meant, for example, that nearly all their children endured the agonising, but fruitful, years of being forced to drink Cod Liver Oil, and they ate largely the same food that their parents bought from the same super-market.

If the typical tribal look is on its way out, then it is possible that tribal taste which people bring to choosing a partner could also disappear with it, increasing the prospect of cross-cultural marriage – and reduction of deadly ethnic politics.

Because Arabs will soon overwhelm Jews inside Israel and the occupied territories due to their very high birth-rate is very high, the former president of the Palestinian Authority, Yassir Arafat, once said: "Our ultimate weapon is the womb of the Palestinian woman."

Likewise, you might say, long-suffering Africa will be saved by the wombs of its women, not the wisdom of its leaders.

Talking about long-suffering Africa and the wisdom of leaders, I am extremely grateful to the good Daily Nation reader who sent me a remarkable essay by Herbert J. Gans entitled "The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All".

The essay was published all of 38 years ago in the July/August 1971 issue of the journal, Social Policy. This was before the poverty industry grew out of the "poverty reduction" or "poverty alleviation" programmes that became fashionable late.

Then, it also provides work for the police, who exist partly to protect the rich from the poor. Gans gives 13 uses of poverty in modern life, including the fact that it produces what he calls "poverty warriors" (who, he acknowledges, include journalists like himself, World Bank bureaucrats, the NGOs) who make a living supplying information policy on poverty, or relief to the poor .

The poor here include all those who are not well off.

Among the 13 uses of poverty, Gans argues that Pentecostal ministers, faith healers, prostitutes, pawn shops, and the peacetime army, which recruits mainly from among the poor, either need poverty to exist or to thrive .

Two of his cleverest insights are that, first, without the poor, the capitalist system as we know it today would be a very different animal.

The poor buy goods others do not want and thus prolong the economic usefulness of such goods –day-old bread, fruit and vegetables that otherwise would have to be thrown out, mitumba (secondhand) clothes, cars and dilapidated buildings.

Secondly, the poor also provide incomes for doctors, lawyers, teachers, and others who are too old, poorly trained or incompetent to attract more affluent clients.

JACOB ZUMA ACCEPTS LIBEL DAMAGES FROM UK PAPERS

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Thu Jul 30, 2009
LONDON (Reuters)

South African President Jacob Zuma accepted "very substantial damages" from Britain's Guardian newspaper over an article that wrongly suggested he was a rapist, his lawyers said on Thursday.

The March article, headlined "Get used to a corrupt and chaotic South Africa. But don't write it off" also alleged Zuma was guilty of corruption and bribery arising out of his involvement in a $5 billion arms deal.

His lawyer Jenny Afia told London's High Court the allegations were "of the utmost seriousness and totally untrue."

After the settlement Zuma issued a statement in which he said: "What was said was extremely serious, not just for me but for the ANC."

He said he had fought for press freedom all his life, but "we had to take action in this matter because the publication crossed the line."

"Media around the world are obliged to exercise their freedom of speech in a responsible manner," he added.

After libel proceedings began in March, the newspaper published an apology, in which it said the allegation of rape was "included due to an editing error."

"In fact, Mr Zuma was acquitted of a rape charge in 2006," it said.

It went on: "We also alleged that he was guilty of corruption and bribery.

"We would like to clarify that since the article was published all criminal charges against Mr Zuma have been dropped by the South African National Prosecuting Authority on the basis that the timing of the decision to prosecute him in the first place was politically motivated."

But the apology was published less prominently than the original article and was initially unavailable online, his lawyer told the court.

He continued to proceed with the action against the paper's private owners, the Guardian News and Media group.

In May, the Guardian offered to pay Zuma undisclosed substantial damages and to pay his legal costs which he accepted on Thursday, his lawyer said.

(Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Robert Woodward)

HILLARY CLINTON WILL PUSH SA TO PRESS MUGABE ON REFORMS

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Reuters
Thursday, July 30, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will press South Africa to use its influence with Zimbabwe's hardline President Robert Mugabe when she is in Pretoria next week, a senior American official said on Thursday.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said Clinton would urge the regional diplomatic heavyweight to get Mugabe to fully implement a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai so that impoverished Zimbabwe could return to democratic rule.

"We will encourage South Africa as a primary (regional) leader ... to press the government of Robert Mugabe to fully implement the global political agreement that he signed," Carson said of Clinton's meetings with the South Africans.

South African President Jacob Zuma has taken a harder line on Zimbabwe than his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, but the United States would like Zuma to do more to quicken the pace of reform in its neighbor.

Carson met Mugabe earlier this month on the sidelines of an African Unity summit in Libya, an encounter he described as a "little bit difficult." It was the highest level meeting by a U.S. official with Mugabe in many years, said Carson.

"We are trying to encourage reform, progress, commitment to the GPA and improved human rights. We will continue to do so," he said of his meeting with Mugabe.

The United States, troubled by what it sees as an absence of reform in Zimbabwe, has no plans either to offer major aid or to lift sanctions against Mugabe and some of his supporters.

Before any of that can happen, Washington wants more evidence of political, social and economic reforms, said a U.S. official.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into economic ruin. He argues that his country's economic woes, which include hyperinflation and a collapsed infrastructure, are caused by sanctions imposed by the United States and others.

Targeted U.S. sanctions include financial and visa restrictions against selected individuals, a ban on transfers of military items and a suspension of non-humanitarian aid.

Clinton leaves on Monday for a seven-nation trip to Africa. Aside from South Africa she will also visit Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Liberia, Nigeria and Cape Verde. She returns to Washington on August 14.

(Reporting by Sue Pleming; editing by Chris Wilson)

WHY IS HILLARY CLINTON TOURING AFRICA?

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Fri Jul 31, 2009
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits seven nations in Africa next week, anxious to show the continent is a priority for the Obama administration even as it tackles a host of other issues.

She will visit Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

WHAT HAS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAID ABOUT AFRICA?

President Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, gave a landmark speech in Ghana this month when he urged Africans to take greater responsibility for stamping out war, corruption and disease. He also said Western aid must be matched by good governance.

The Obama administration says Africa is a foreign policy priority, but with so many challenges from Iran and North Korea to the financial crisis, experts are skeptical how much attention the U.S. government will pay to the continent.

WHY IS KENYA IMPORTANT FOR THE UNITED STATES:

Kenya is America's key partner in East Africa. Clinton will press the Kenyan government to deal with corruption and political deadlock after the disputed 2007 election and urge the creation of a local court to handle the perpetrators of post-election violence.

Some Kenyans viewed Obama's decision to go to Ghana first as a snub to his 'homeland', but others felt it was correct not to reward the country's corrupt and tribally tinged political elite.

While in Kenya, Clinton will attend an annual trade meeting with sub-Saharan Africa nations.

The United States is looking into whether to suspend trading benefits it gives to Madagascar because of democracy concerns after last March's coup. Such a move could cause the country's $600 million-a-year textile industry to collapse.

WHY IS CLINTON MEETING SOMALIA'S PRESIDENT IN KENYA?

Clinton wants to bolster the shaky transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed who is struggling to take control from hard-line opposition fighters bent on overthrowing his government.

The West fears Somalia could become a haven for foreign militants looking to attack the region and beyond.

The United States is also concerned about a rise in piracy off Somalia's shores, including attacks on U.S.-flagged ships. America's involvement in Somalia in the 1990s ended in a shambles and experts warn Clinton against inflaming the situation.

WHAT IS THE STATE OF U.S. RELATIONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA?

The Bush administration had a prickly relationship with South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki, who was critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and other issues.

With new presidents in both countries, Clinton will want to reset relations and is expected to press Pretoria to be more of a global and regional player. Clinton's staff say she will press South Africa to use its influence to get Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to implement reforms more quickly.

WHY IS ANGOLA INCLUDED IN THE SEVEN-NATION ITINERARY?

Oil producer Angola is seen as an emerging financial powerhouse in Africa. The United States imports 7 percent of its oil from Angola, which rivals Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer and heads the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The trip could help boost U.S. investments in Angola's once-prosperous farming sector. U.S.-based Dole Food Co. and Chiquita Brands International, have been in talks with local authorities to invest in the banana industry. Clinton will encourage Angola to diversify -- it relies on oil and diamonds for 90 percent of its exports. Washington sees agriculture as a way to lift millions out of poverty in Africa.

WHAT WILL THE MESSAGE BE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO?

DRC is of huge strategic importance to the region and home to U.S. corporate interests in the mining industry, which is bogged down in a contract review.

An ongoing conflict in the east will be a focus and Clinton is set to visit Goma where she plans to highlight the plight of women who are raped and subjected to other atrocities. Another subject on her agenda with Congolese leaders will be the need to do a better job of fighting corruption.

WHAT WILL CLINTON DO IN NIGERIA?

Many in Africa's most populous nation, oil producer Nigeria, saw Obama's choice of Ghana for his first trip as a deliberate snub. Clinton's trip is partly aimed at mending that dented pride.

Security in the Niger Delta is a key concern as well as corruption, which is a major disincentive to investors. Nigeria's effort to contain violence by radical Islamists in parts of the north is also likely to be raised with more than 180 people killed in recent days.

WHY LIBERIA?

Clinton will be looking to bolster Africa's only woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, on her brief stop in Liberia's capital Monrovia. Clinton will reaffirm U.S. development assistance for Liberia, which was founded by freed former American slaves.

Johnson-Sirleaf is seen by the outside world to be doing a good job fighting corruption but the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently recommended she be barred from office because of her association with warlords.

WHY IS SHE STOPPING OVER IN CAPE VERDE?

Cape Verde is a popular refueling stop. A group of islands off the coast of Senegal, the United States sees Cape Verde as an African success story. (Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi, Henrique Almeida in Luanda, Nick Tattersall in Lagos, Daniel Magnowski in Dakar)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

OF NILE WATERS, MAU FORESTS AND EGYPTIAN ARROGANCE

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By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
July 29, 2009

Egypt and Sudan are clinging to the River Nile treaties of 1929 and 1959 as if the documents were the Ten Commandments handed over to the biblical Moses by the God of Israel. In that treaty, Egypt and Sudan have exclusive rights to 70% and 30% of Nile waters respectively, irrespective of countries that occupy the sources of River Nile.
The annoying thing is that Egypt and Sudan would like us believe that this unjust document, signed with Britain when the former forcefully occupied these territories must be binding to the region even 50 years after our own independence.

Put in perspective, River Nile draws its waters from Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world. Since colonial times, the great lake has belonged to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the three countries that surround it. There has not been any debate about who or which countries own the Lake.

This lake in turn gets its waters largely from Kenya’s mountains and forests of the Rift Valley Highlands. And as we talk now, the debate is raging about the devastation of the water catchment areas of Mau Forests that are threatening water levels of Feeder Rivers into Lake Victoria.

At this point in time, when Egyptians and Sudanese are whining about the 80 year old treaty on River Nile, the Kenya government is grappling with how to sustain the lives of the very rivers and the lake that feed the Nile. At stake are 70,000 squatters that must be evicted from the Mau Forest and compensated handsomely, then fence off the entire forest reserve at a cost of US $ 500 million. To evict, compensate squatters and secure the area will cost the Kenyan taxpayer close to US $ 1 billion.

Let us face the facts; all the countries in the region including Sudan and Egypt need the Nile waters because their livelihood depends on it. Nobody is saying that the two desert countries should be strangled downstream. What seems unreasonable, unacceptable and arrogant is the impression that their rights to the waters supersede all other rights including those rights of the legal owners of all the rivers and the lake that feeds the Nile.

The reason why these treaties should be rubbished is simple. They were signed with an alien power, an occupation force that had no interest in the welfare of occupied territories. Therefore Egypt signing a treaty with Britain was like having a pact with a thief over goods that didn’t belong to the thief in the first place.

Comparatively the Middle East oils were exploited by the same colonial powers for close to a century until the Arab world under the Umbrella of OPEC woke up in the mid 1970s and revoked all former agreements with international oil companies that until then set the price of crude oil. Since then the oil market has never been the same again with hitherto poor oil producing countries turning into wealthy and roaring economies over night.

The way I see it is simple; Lake Victoria is our lifeline just like oil wells have changed the fortunes of our Arab brothers in the North. I therefore see nothing wrong in nationalizing, controlling and selling the Nile waters to those who depend on it for survival.

Short of building Nile Water Pipe Line from Jinja in Uganda and another one from the Ethiopian Mountains where the other Nile starts, we can actually erect huge control points to count the volume of water flowing to Sudan and Egypt. And for every barrel of water, the three East African countries should charge between U$ 40 and $ 100 depending on the season and demand.

And this water should not just be sold to Egypt and Sudan. It should be available to any willing buyer in the Middle East and beyond in order for prices to remain competitive. After all, Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians are already paying very dearly, sometimes with their lives, for the commodity in their cities and rural areas.

Finally, now that the Nile water politics is reaching its crescendo at a time when Kenya is staring at possible violent riots and a $ 1 billion bill to conserve its source, are the countries bound to be adversely affected doing anything to support Kenya in its conservation efforts? How much are Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia ready to pay to help in conserving Lake Victoria’s water sources?

Yes, countries that crave for Nile waters must not be allowed to have their cake and eat it. If they expect Kenya to protect the Nile water sources alone, then Kenya may as well sit back and let squatters turn the Mau Forest into wasteland to give everyone an opportunity to feel the pain of dry riverbeds and lakes. It is a reality that I don’t think right thinking governments will want to find themselves in at this point in time.

Instead of squabbling and whining over who has more rights to the Nile, let these countries think about conserving our rain forests in order to keep the Nile flowing.

jerryokungu@gmail.com

MAU FOREST OCCUPATION, A CLEAR CASE OF ARROGANT IMPUNITY

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By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
July 27, 2009

Finally Raila Odinga has come out fighting. He has decided that enough is enough with bullies from the Rift Valley who think Kenya will come to a standstill if they don’t vote for Raila Odinga.

What Raila Odinga has come out saying is what Kenyans have been waiting for. He has been baby-sitting William Ruto for too long.

Finally has come to the painful realization that helping the likes of Ruto in their hour of need does not help anyone in the long run. A person who has grown up with bad politics will always play cheap dirty politics.

For the sake of Mau Forest, Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki must remain firm. They must speak the same language and save Mau Forest.

Yes, at one point, Raila gave the Rift Valley supporters the impression that the illegal land grabbers of the water catchment area would all be compensated. But now he realizes that there are so many conmen in the forest waiting to cash in on government windfall. If there are 70,000 squatters without title deeds, they must be flushed out now not tomorrow. The only people that need c some form of consideration are those with title deeds Michuki has identified.

It is time this government called Ruto’s bluff and dealt with Mau Forest firmly. If he and his followers want to return to KANU, so be it. After all that is the place they truly belong because it was during their time in KANU that Mau Forest was grabbed.

Another thing, there is no need having people in this coalition that have no respect for authority. The world over, if you differ with the head of government, you resign and join the back benches. This is what Ruto, Uhuru and other quarrelsome minister who has differed with Kibaki and Raila over Mau Forest should do. Kenya does no need such shortsighted leaders.

John Michuki is definitely good for the long term good of Kenya. As a country, we need our forests, lakes and rivers beyond 2012. I would rather we lose some votes from Rift Valley now but save our country from plunder and devastation. These Rift Valley votes will be worthless in the long run if our people and cattle die due to long droughts brought about by our reckless handling of our natural resources. Sometimes I think this behavior is beyond recklessness. It is naked greed which became part of the ruling class culture of the Nyayo era.

Come to think of it; what really unites Uhuru, Ruto and Gideon Moi in times like these? I am of the opinion that the only time these three musketeers come together is when it is time to cover up for their past deeds when they were in power.

They always zealously defend their territories under the guise of protecting the landless Rift Valley squatters when in fact they were the main beneficiaries who first grabbed tracks of forests before disposing of them to unsuspecting poor squatters. Now they would like us to believe that they are the new champions of the poor in the Rift Valley!

Anybody who sees the Mau Forest destruction in isolation misses the point. We must see it along side thousands of government lands and property in all our towns that were shamelessly grabbed in the dying days of the Moi era, mainly by the President’s men and women. Government houses, parastatal buildings including Provincial Administration offices were all grabbed by civil servants on authority of the President and successive Commissioners of Lands.

The era of grabbed Mau Forests must starkly remind us of the demise of Nyayo Bus Services, KEMRON wonder drug, the failed Nyayo car, and the collapse of KCC, Kenya Farmers Association, Kenya Meat Commission and all textile mills owned by the government.

During this era, healthcare, education, infrastructure and local authorities were all run down by the President’s men. Not even the Central Bank was spared. Kenya Posts and Telecommunications, NSSF and NHIF became cash cows for State operatives.
The only schools that benefitted from the Nyayo era were a select few in Rift Valley and Nairobi provinces; and tellingly Girls Schools for reasons that all Kenyans know about.

If corruption flourished in the Nyayo era, it was because our top leadership worshipped money and power. As the President went about with sacks of cash and dished it out to mama mbogas by the roadsides, the likes of Kuria Kanyingi, Paul Pattni and many others like them took the cue and realized the power of cash. They had learnt from the master what one could do with a modest education and abundance of cash.
It is this unbridled greed for wealth that destroyed our nation’s soul.

Now Mau Forest must continue to be devastated as we argue with those who should be in jail rather than in the cabinet!

jerryokungu@gmail.com

NIGERIAN TROOPS AT SECT LEADER'S COMPOUND

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By ADAM NOSSITER and ALAN COWELL
Published: July 30, 2009

DAKAR, Senegal — After days of fighting in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, government forces claimed Thursday to have killed the deputy leader of a fundamentalist Islamic sect in a climactic gun battle that forced the leader of the insurgents to flee with several hundred followers, news reports said.

The reports came after Northern Nigeria was hit by a fourth day of violence on Wednesday, as soldiers trying to stamp out resistance from the sect, popularly known as Boko Haram, shelled its headquarters in Maiduguri. The authorities say the sect carried out two attacks on police stations and was perhaps plotting more. Already, hundreds of people have been killed in clashes that have spread across four states, according to reporters in the area and news agencies.

On Thursday, The Associated Press reported that government troops broke into the sect’s mosque in Maiduguri, touching off a gun battle that left scores dead. Maj. Gen. Saleh Maina, the commander of Nigerian troops in the city, was quoted as saying the sect’s deputy leader was among the dead, but that the leader of the movement escaped and fled with some 300 followers.

News reports said the army was conducting a house-to-house search Thursday on the outskirts of Maiduguri for the sect’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf. On Wednesday, soldiers shot their way into the mosque in Maiduguri and then raked those holed up inside with gunfire, The A.P. quoted one of its reporters as saying.

The reporter later counted about 50 bodies inside the building and another 50 in the courtyard outside. The militants were armed with homemade hunting rifles, bows and arrows and scimitars, The A.P. said.

One body among five corpses inside a large house was that of Bukar Shekau, the sect’s vice chairman, General Maina was quoted saying. “The mission has been accomplished,” he said.

The Borno state governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “Security personnel have succeeded in dislodging the militants and I urge everyone to go about their normal duties.” He said that anyone caught harboring fugitive sect members would “be dealt with according to the law.”

But residents said they were still too afraid to venture out, Reuters reported, after a police station was torched late on Wednesday and bursts of shooting continued throughout the night.

The Nigerian military took command of the operation against the insurgents from the police in a move that “illustrates the resolve of the Nigerian government to bring the situation under control,” said Emmanuel Ojukwu, a spokesman for the Nigerian police.

Late Wednesday Isa Umar Gusau, a reporter for The Daily Trust, a Nigerian newspaper, said the army had “blown up the enclave of the sect leaders.”

“The place has been bombed,” he said, describing a complex, now in flames, consisting of a clinic, a mosque and residences where the group’s leader lived.

Mr. Gusau and another reporter, Idris Abdullahi, said they had seen dozens of bodies. “The military are going in in force,” said Mr. Abdullahi, a reporter for the News Agency of Nigeria. “Hundreds have been killed.”

Officials described a city of deserted streets and businesses shut tight. “Everybody is looking for safety,” said Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency. “They don’t want to be caught in the fire between the military and the militants.”

With phone lines largely down, the situation seemed increasingly desperate on Wednesday. “The town is in a state of siege,” said Jibrin Ibrahim, who directs the Center for Democracy and Development in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. “People don’t have food at home.”

Some reports suggested that as many as 43 people had been killed in Yobe State on Wednesday, though Mr. Ojukwu refused to say how many had died.

The government also gave contradictory accounts of what touched off the conflict with the militants, who are sometimes referred to as the Taliban. Nigerian security officials have repeatedly argued that the militants attacked first, but on Wednesday, President Umaru Yar’Adua rejected that argument.

“It was not the Taliban group that attacked the security agents first, no,” he said, according to The A.P.News accounts and analysts suggested that clashes between security forces and sect members over the last six weeks preceded the latest violence, reinforcing Mr. Yar’Adua’s suggestion that the group had been in the sights of officials for some time.

On June 11, police officers in Maiduguri fired on a sect funeral procession, shooting 17. Mr. Yusuf, denouncing the shootings, vowed to take revenge, according to Nnamdi Obasi, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit group dedicated to conflict resolution.

“It looked like the stage was set for trouble,” Mr. Obasi said.

Then, last Friday, the police raided a sect hide-out south of Maiduguri and recovered “a lot of combat materials,” Mr. Obasi said, including bomb-making equipment.

Early Sunday, according to the police, the group struck back, attacking a police headquarters in Bauchi. The violence spread quickly, with security forces moving in to crush the militants.

The sect rejects Western education, supports the imposition of strict Islamic law and believes in segregation of the sexes. Islamic law has been applied in the northern Nigerian states for the last decade, but not in its strictest form.

Underlying the conflict is the deep poverty of millions in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. “You have a ready army that can be enlisted in violent enterprises,” Mr. Obasi said. “These are people who feel the Western models of education and government have failed them.”

Adam Nossiter reported from Dakar, Senegal, and Alan Cowell from Paris.

JURY PREPARES FOR FORMER CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM JAFFERSON BRIBERY CASE

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By NEIL A. LEWIS
Published: July 29, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va.
Former Representative William J. Jefferson put his office up for sale and intended to get “top dollar for it,” prosecutors said Wednesday in closing arguments at his corruption trial.

With both the prosecution and the defense completing their presentations, the jury is expected to begin deliberations on Thursday in the case against Mr. Jefferson, who is charged with 16 counts of bribery and other offenses.

A former Louisiana Democrat, Mr. Jefferson is accused of improperly seeking millions of dollars from various African business ventures, as well as seeking to bribe the vice president of Nigeria. In a 2005 raid, the F.B.I. found $90,000 neatly wrapped in aluminum foil in Mr. Jefferson’s home freezer.

The six-week trial consisted almost exclusively of prosecutors laying out their case that Mr. Jefferson schemed to use his office to promote initiatives by American companies in Africa. In exchange for his help, prosecutors said, Mr. Jefferson required the companies to provide generous benefits to relatives, including his wife, brother and sons-in-law.

The defense presentation on Tuesday lasted barely two hours. Mr. Jefferson, 62, who represented New Orleans for 18 years until voted out last year, did not take the stand.

Rebeca Bellows, a federal prosecutor, told the jury on Wednesday that Mr. Jefferson “year after year, scheme after scheme, betrayed the trust of the people of New Orleans.” She noted that witnesses had testified during the trial that Mr. Jefferson regularly increased the amount of kickbacks he was demanding. He was greedy, she said.

Robert Trout, Mr. Jefferson’s lawyer, argued to the jury that Mr. Jefferson’s activities in promoting the business ventures to African governments did not qualify as “official acts” under public corruption laws.

Although Mr. Jefferson had solicited support from both American agencies and senior African government officials, often using his Congressional stationery and office staff, Mr. Trout told the jury that they were not official acts. He said that Mr. Jefferson never introduced legislation or sought budget earmarks for any of the projects.

“All he did was carry himself like a congressman” while involved in the ventures, Mr. Trout said. He said that Mr. Jefferson was involved in a private capacity because, as an African-American, “He loved to help Africa.”

Mr. Jefferson, a tall and courtly figure, had long been a popular official in New Orleans and capitalized on his life story as someone who picked cotton as a youth and eventually graduated from Harvard Law School.

His family of five daughters — three of whom also graduated from Harvard Law School — and his wife sat directly behind him reading Scriptures on Wednesday.

The Jefferson investigation pitted Congress against the Justice Department in a dispute over whether the F.B.I. violated the Constitution’s separation of powers by raiding his Congressional office and seizing documents.

An appeals court ruled that the bureau’s search was constitutionally flawed and ordered some documents returned to him; the Supreme Court let that ruling stand.

Although prosecutors spoke of tens of millions of dollars in potential gain for Mr. Jefferson and his relatives, most of the schemes never materialized and far less money changed hands. His wife, for example, was given large blocks of stock in a company that went bust.

His brother, Mose Jefferson, made $21,000 on a sugar deal, evidence showed. And Vernon L. Jackson, a businessman, pleaded guilty and is serving a term of more than seven years for paying $367,000 to Mr. Jefferson over a four-year period.

In her summation, Ms. Bellows showed the jury a photo of the aluminum-foil-clad cash in brick-size portions surrounding a box of frozen Pillsbury pie crusts. The money in the freezer came from the F.B.I. via a cooperating witness whose conversations with Mr. Jefferson were taped in audio and video.

In 2005, the F.B.I. provided $100,000 through the witness, Lori Mody, to bribe Atiku Abubakar, then the Nigerian vice president, for help with a telecommunications deal involving Mr. Jackson’s company.

In his summation, Mr. Trout acknowledged that Mr. Jefferson agreed to try to bribe Mr. Abubakar. “He did something stupid,” Mr. Trout told the jury, blaming it partly on the entreaties of Ms. Mody, a businesswoman hoping to conduct business in Africa. Mr. Trout argued that Mr. Jefferson never intended to go through with the bribe and that is why most of the money was found in the freezer.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Abubakar left Washington for Nigeria earlier than Mr. Jefferson had expected and failed to get the money to him in time.

Because of his agreement to pay the bribe, Mr. Jefferson was the first member of Congress to be charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law usually used against American businesses.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

OGIEK ELDERS OFFER CONSERVATION SKILLS

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DAILY NATION
By WANJIRU MACHARIA
Tuesday, July 28 2009

The Ogiek community — the original residents of the Mau Forest Complex — on Tuesday said it was ready to offer its traditional conservation knowledge to save the Mau.

Addressing the Press in Nakuru after a long closed-door meeting with the new Rift Valley provincial commissioner, Mr Osman Warfa, over the Mau saga, Ogiek leaders said the community was ready to help the government conserve the forest.

The leaders said hundreds of hectares were degazetted in the name of settling the community, yet only a small fraction of them had title deeds.

One of the leaders, Mr Joseph Towett, said the community knew the right tree species to plant in the now depleted water catchment area.

“We have lived in Mau for centuries, and we ensured it was well conserved. We are ready to offer our traditional conservation knowledge for the sake of rehabilitating the forest,” he said.

Mr Towett, who was accompanied by leaders from all the Ogiek clans, said the leaders knew all the forest boundaries before the 1990 to 2001 excision and were ready to help the government.

“We know the boundaries that would not affect the catchment area, and we are ready to help identify and review them. We will help the State in fixing new boundaries,” he said.

Mr Towett said the delegation of leaders had gone to see the PC and seek government’s stand on the Mau. He said the Ogiek had been complaining about the activities in Mau since 1995, but those in authority ignored the matter.

“We have documents to prove that we starting raising the issue long before anyone even noticed that there was a problem There are newspaper cuttings, correspondences with the government, court and parliamentary records,” he said, adding that the proposals by the Task Force on Mau Forest were not exhaustive and should be subjected to further debate before being implemented.

Mr Towett said the government should review the Ogiek settlement issue and compensate the community for the destruction of their natural habitat.

He said while the intention of excising a small part of the forest was noble for the resettlement of the community which had been living there, politicians took the advantage to grab thousands upon thousands of hectares of forest land, leaving the Ogiek landless.

The Ogiek leaders were drawn from Koibatek, Narok, Kipkelion, Nandi South, Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro, Kericho and Uasin Gishu. The vast Mau Forest, which has 22 blocks, extends to all these districts.

RAILA'S GAMBLE: SAVING THE MAU FOREST

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DAILY NATION
NAIROBI, KENYA
By BERNARD NAMUNANE
Tuesday, July 28 2009

Nation: In your own words, why is it important to save Mau Forest?

Mr Odinga: This country has five water towers: the Cherangany, Mt Kenya, the Aberdares, Mt Elgon and of course the Mau. Of these, the Mau is the largest, covering 400,000 hectares and is a source to 25 rivers, a livelihood to large numbers of people, bird life and game life. This is why it is very critical to the national environment and if it is not conserved, the consequences will be far reaching: The rivers will dry, bird and game life destroyed and agriculture adversely affected.
And the impediments to conserving it?

Mr Odinga: There has been a lot of encroachment on the Mau. Previous governments excised portions of land and degazetted them for settlement. There has been an invasion by individuals, wanton destruction of the forest by cutting trees for charcoal burning and timber. Now rivers are drying up, bird life and game life are affected because the wetlands have been invaded. This is the situation as it is and the responsibility of the government is to reverse it and ensure that people who invaded it are outside.

What political risk do you see in the position you have taken?

Mr Odinga: There are people who want to use the Mau for political reasons; they want to use the plight of the people who settled in the Mau for their own selfish political interests by masquerading as the defenders of their rights. Yet in actual sense, the intention is not to defend the people of Mau. It is for political populism to take them to greater political heights.

When I appointed the taskforce, I was very conscious in my mind that people are going to be affected. That is why the taskforce has to look at the number of people to be affected and how best we can conserve the forest. Now we have a report and some of those who are making noise are members of the Cabinet who should raise issues in the Cabinet.

Last week, I met all MPs from the Rift Valley and we unanimously agreed on the recommendations and they made comments which will be taken on board. The resolution of the meeting was to remove people from the Mau and we said all title holders, regardless of how they acquired the title deeds, will be compensated because third party individuals are not to blame. It is the grabbers who were given free land who are to blame. It is only those who have no titles who will leave; there is no compromise on that.

If you allow everybody to be compensated, you open a pandora’s box. People will invade the Mau and demand compensation. I must make it clear that people who live in Mau are Kenyans and some are my supporters. There will be no forceful evictions ... But there is a price to be paid. The only problem is that people are being incited by irresponsible politicians greedy for power. We will not give in to blackmail.

How do you plan to manage that risk?

Mr Odinga: In politics, if you cannot take risks, you cannot move just like it is in business. It is people who are prepared to take risks who have been able to transform the world. I know this is a risk I am taking but for every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. We cannot allow a few people to turn this country into a desert. It will be irresponsible for us to do so.

You have said some ministers are irresponsible. Which ones are they?
Mr Odinga: I have not talked about ministers, I have talked about leaders. This includes religious leaders, civil society, MPs and leaders of political parties. Members of the Cabinet are enjoined by the collective responsibility to support decisions of the Executive. Every minister has to support government decisions and there are avenues to raise any issues they may have in the Cabinet. The taskforce report will be presented to the Cabinet and they will have an opportunity to raise any issues.

Nation: You have scolded ministers for not bringing their concerns to the Cabinet and taking them to the public platform. Isn’t this an approach you have taken yourself?

Mr Odinga: We as leaders must act responsibly because we are examples to the public. When we begin to quarrel, condemn or criticise each other, the public increasingly gets anxious. We polarise the country more when we try to propel an ethnic agenda. This country requires a unity of purpose because last year we went through the most difficult times since our independence. We are in the process of healing and we don’t want to open old wounds.

When you have in the past disagreed with other leaders you have characterised it as healthy debate and democracy. Don’t Rift Valley MPs have the same right?

Mr Odinga: It is true I have talked about the fundamental right to hold different views. We have, for a long time, fought for the freedom of association, speech and assembly. I will be the last person to trample on it. But what I am saying is that I am entitled to disagree with your views. I have never tried to stop leaders from any region exercising their rights. What I have said is that they should stop inciting people. Those I have said should not go public are members of the Cabinet.

How do you suggest to deal with MPs who have land in the Mau?

Mr Odinga: The report will reveal all of them, even those who got plots and proceeded to sell them. Some are holding plots in the names of proxies and have not disclosed them. There is need to disclose interest in the issue of Mau yet some of them have not done so.

Some have constituents settled in the Mau and would want to defend them. Others look at the Mau to gain politically by posing as the defenders of the people’s rights. Rift Valley MPs are being hypocritical because we met last week and agreed. They are introducing tribal politics. As a government, and President Kibaki and I have said so, we will not be intimidated or given conditions on the Mau.

Where will money for compensation of the settlers come from?

According to the report of the taskforce, Sh38 billion is required to deal with the Mau issue. Phase One will not need much money because it will involve people without titles moving out of the forest. There will be money required for the comprehensive surveying of the Mau, to demarcate it and put up beacons.

This will be followed by fencing of the catchment areas to avoid any future encroachment. Money will be required for re-afforestation of the destroyed areas. Then we will need money to protect the wetlands. Money will also be required to resettle those to be moved: Some to buy land elsewhere to resettle people and cash to pay some who will not get land.

The government must make a provision for that. Of course we expect some money from development partners and donors. We also hope to benefit from carbon trading.

RIFT VALLEY VIOLENCE: A LONG HISTORY

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By SARAH ELDERKIN
Tuesday, July 28 2009

The post election violence in Rift Valley had little to do with the polls.
The 2007 election contest was not between personalities but policies.
The writer is a freelance journalist. A version of this blog post will be published in the Saturday Nation on August 1, 2009.
I keep hearing it lately. I keep being told that the last general election was simply a contest between two personalities, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, and that the ensuing violence was all their fault because they persuaded us to vote for them.

As the local tribunal/Hague day of reckoning approaches, this is a story increasingly being pushed by a few politicians, notably those whose necks appear to be in a rather perilous position.

It is a story deeply demeaning to the millions who voted. Those of us who voted for change are being told we were so befuddled by hero-worship that we stumbled blindly into polling stations with no thought in our heads but ‘Raila’.

We didn’t. If Raila Odinga had told us ODM stood for ‘More money for the rich and less for the poor’, would we have voted for him? Of course not. We voted for specific policies and for the man promoting them. And it was the people’s lost dream of realising those policies, not Raila Odinga’s lost dream of becoming president in 2007, that led to the spontaneous outpouring of dismay and protest.

In Rift Valley, though, it was a different story. What happened there had little to do with the elections. The real story in Rift Valley is one of longstanding tribal grievances, and the elections became just another excuse for the latest round of score-settling.

It all began long ago, in the 1950s, when colonial settlers took Kikuyus from their traditional homelands to work on Rift Valley farms. After Independence, most of those Kikuyus settled in Rift Valley. And the locals didn’t like it. As Justice Augustus Molade Akiwumi noted in his eponymous 1999 report on tribal clashes in Kenya (suppressed by the Kanu government until a court ordered it released in 2002), “Kalenjin detest foreigners living in their midst, and worse still, owning land among them”.

But let’s go back a bit, to when Kanu and Kadu were negotiating the Independence Constitution. The small tribes that comprised Kadu, chaired by Daniel arap Moi, desired regional government (dubbed ‘majimbo’) because they feared being overwhelmed by the powerful Kikuyu-Luo axis in Kanu. Kenya duly became independent under a majimbo Constitution.

Some Kadu leaders evidently saw this as a licence to evict other tribes from Rift Valley (and that is how the noble idea of devolved government got a dirty name). At public rallies, they warned of further Kikuyu immigration. Moi’s authorised biography, by Andrew Morton, tells how, when Kenyatta said publicly that Kikuyus must be allowed to take up land in the Rift Valley, Eldoret politician William Murgor “produced a whistle and blew a long note of alarm on it”. Moi later also responded, saying that “people of Kalenjin” were “prepared to fight and die for their land”.

Poison traded for goats

Moi’s book notes that “the Kipsigis were particularly aggressive towards Luo and Kikuyu incursion, sounding the war cry across the valleys on the slightest provocation”. The Kikuyus responded, and a colonial document of the time reported that “African smiths were inundated with orders for spears. Bows and arrows were manufactured and stockpiled; poison was traded for goats or grain.”

Eventually, the Lands Control Board was established. The majimbo Constitution and Kadu were discarded in 1964, and Rift Valley inhabitants began to intermarry and live as neighbours.

In 1967, Kenyatta appointed Moi vice-president, a move widely seen as a sop to the minority tribes. (The term ‘Kalenjin’ was a comparatively recent invention then, and the combined force of small Rift Valley tribes under one umbrella was still in its formative stages.)

Underneath, though, resentment festered, Tugen against Njemps, Kipsigis and Kisii against Maasai, everyone against Luo and Kikuyu. Conflicting land claims and rights were never addressed by the Kenyatta government, and the situation did not improve under Moi. Rift Valley politicians frequently made inflammatory public remarks, tribal clashes occurred regularly, and nothing was ever done to stop them.

In 1978, amid renewed calls for a return to majimbo, Luo squatters petitioned Moi for leave to remain on Rift Valley land they occupied. Moi and later the Commissioner of Lands ruled in their favour. But the local district commissioner overruled this, with no power to do so but without contradiction. The Akiwumi Report notes that the squatters’ eventual eviction from land not otherwise owned or required was “not for any other reason but because they were Luo”. There were many similar cases, particularly against Kikuyus.

By 1991, the push for multipartyism had become irresistible. Moi declared it would bring tribal clashes, and it was no coincidence that these began right away. Once again, Rift Valley was aflame. There was a “systematic spread” of clashes over the next few years, says the Akiwumi Report, to Tinderet, Kipkelion, Molo, Olenguruone, Londiani, Kericho, Trans Nzoia, Burnt Forest, Koguta, Kunyak, Laikipia, Njoro, Kipkaren, Chirchila, Thessalia, Sondu, Sotik, Kipsigis, Mauche Lare, Ndoinet, Mau Summit, Ol Moran and many other centres declared “Kanu zones”.

The Akiwumi Report notes that “those who supported or were sympathetic to the emergent multiparty politics were the ones targeted. Except where we had retaliatory attacks, no Kalenjin or Kalenjin houses were affected … The raiders were well organised and co-ordinated …. The attacks were barbaric, callous and calculated to drive out the targeted groups from their farms, to cripple them economically and to psychologically traumatise them.”

The clashes continued throughout the 1990s and escalated around the 1997 general election, and again, similarly, as the Waki Report details, in 2008. Thousands lost their lives and homes.

And “the mastermind of the clashes,” says Akiwumi, “appears to have enjoyed the support of the provincial administration and the police force” whose behaviour was “ruthless and inhuman” and “that of an accomplice”. The report concludes that both local government officers and police “acted against innocent citizens of this country” for “political reasons”.

Deep-seated ethnic ambitions

Throughout the years and also in 2008, government officials and security forces have watched silently as murder and mayhem in Rift Valley have been perpetrated under their noses.

“With the advantage of hindsight,” the Akiwumi Report says, it would seem that, although Rift Valley inhabitants have lived together since before Independence “the different tribes did not accept each other but only tolerated each other, as apparently there were deep-seated ethnic ambitions and prejudices.”

The Rift Valley agenda is complex, predicated as it is on tribal aversion and exclusion. Violence has existed there for decades and in 2008 this had very little to do with ‘lost elections’. If this web of hatred and contempt remains unbroken, we may expect to realise the forebodings of one witness to the 2008 atrocities, who told investigators, “My fear is not even for the past or the present, but for the future.”

History to which thousands are witness cannot be rewritten. Everyone has to wake up, tell it like it is, take responsibility and help stabilise this country and make it a nation. The superficial, politically driven attempt to blame Raila or Kibaki for the 2008 post-election violence in Rift Valley is the last resort of the desperate. The truth and the moral imperative, the dictates of pure reason, are quite another story. And make no mistake, our future depends on it.

UGANDA REJECTS REPORT THAT MIGINGO IS IN KENYA

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THE STANDARD
KISUMU, KENYA
July 29 2009

By John Oywa

Uganda has rejected a preliminary survey report indicating disputed Migingo Island is in Kenya, and now plans to take matter to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

The country’s first Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategaya said they were also exploring possibilities of involving another country to help resolve the dispute if the two countries failed to agree.

Mr Kategaya was quoted in a section of Ugandan press saying Uganda may not have any option but to go to The Hague or involve another country.

He was responding to concerns by MPs who wanted to know the country’s position after Kenya laid claim to the Island.

Our Territory

One MP, Betty Amongi, is quoted to have said: "The Kenyans have declared that it (Migingo) is in Kenya. What is Uganda saying? What is the way forward?"

President Kibaki declared Migingo is Kenyan last week and told local leaders and fishermen to stop wasting time talking about the issue.

Speaking in Kendu Bay while on a tour of the Nyanza, the President said: "Migingo has belonged to Kenya from the beginning. It is in our territory".

Kibaki’s declaration came only a week after local surveyors said in a preliminary report obtained by The Standard the Island was indeed 510m inside Kenya.

The Standard has further learnt President Kibaki’s statement and the preliminary survey report have generated a lot of concern in Uganda.

Uganda’s Lands Ministry spokesperson Denis Obbo has also been quoted in the media dismissing the report.

Mr Obbo accused Kenya of reneging on a communiquÈ signed in May, which stated all surveying had to be done jointly.

He blamed Kenyan surveyors for going ahead with the exercise while the Ugandan team had returned to Kampala for consultations.

Post Police Officers

Obbo said: "What the Kenyans have done is not what was issued in the communiquÈ. The survey has to be done jointly. So, as far as we are concerned, anything that is not jointly done is unacceptable to Uganda".

Yesterday, Kenyan fishermen and local leaders asked Government to post police officers on the Island following the President’s announcement.

Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga thanked the President and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for taking a firm stand on the dispute and asked Uganda to remove its forces from the Island.

The MP said the Island is in his constituency and wondered why Ugandan authorities were reluctant to let go yet all documents showed it is in Kenya.

EGYPT STILL DEFIANT OVER RIVER NILE WATERS

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THE NEW VISION
KAMPALA, UGANDA
Tuesday, 28th July, 2009

By Gerald Tenywa and Agencies

EGYPT is still vehemently opposed to changing the agreements over the River Nile, saying it will not compromise its historic rights or accept a reduction in its water share, water minister Mohamed Nasreddin Allam, said on Monday.

Allam said it did not matter if other Nile Basin countries were not convinced of the rights given to Egypt, the most populous Arab country, in previous agreements.
The river’s total flow is around 84 billion cubic metres.

The 1929 agreement was signed between Egypt and Great Britain, which at the time was acting on behalf of its East African colonies.

The 1959 Egypt, Sudan agreement acts as a supplement to the previous accord and gives Egypt the right to 55.5 billion cubic metres of Nile water a year. In the 1959 agreement, Egypt was allocated 70% of the water and Sudan walked away with 30%.

Both agreements have created resentment among the other eight Nile states, which have called for changes to the pact.

Uganda’s state minister for water Jennipher Namuyangu declined to comment. “I cannot discuss these things because it might derail the negotiations.”

Water minister Maria Mutagamba, who is attending the meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, is expected to return on Friday.

A meeting of Nile Basin ministers that took place in the DR Congo in May fell through when Egypt refused to sign a new framework over the Nile River.

All countries except Egypt and Sudan agreed that the controversial article on water security would be presented as an annex to the pact.

In an earlier interview, Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, a water expert, said the contentious part of the proposed Nile Cooperative Framework seeks to nullify the Nile colonial agreements.

“In the draft copy, Article 14(b) talks about water security. The way it is formulated would nullify the old agreements,” according to Dr. Callist Tindimugaya. “Egypt and Sudan want it stated in a way which still gives them control over the water.”

The World Bank and other donor countries to the Nile Basin Initiative, a commission formed in 1999, sent a letter on June 29 to all parties expressing concern over the Kinshasa meeting.

“The first inclusive Nile agreement is close to being fully realised,” David Grey, senior water adviser at the World Bank, said in his opening remarks at the conference yesterday.

“But there is a difficult issue to be resolved.”

Egypt, with a population of close to 77 million people, lies below the water poverty line of 1,000 cubic meters per capita per year.

It only has around 800 cubic meters per capita per year. Egypt has said its water needs would surpass its resources by the year 2017.

The North African country is heavily dependent on the Nile River, which comprises around 87% of its total water resources.

“We can’t fix everything in one day. An agreement for all basin countries will take time, so we have to have patience but I’m sure there will be a solution,” Allam said.

Nile pacts since 1929
THE 1929 NILE WATERS AGREEMENT
This was signed between Egypt and Great Britain, which represented at the time Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Sudan. It gave Cairo the right to veto projects on the Nile that would affect its water share

THE 1959 pact of EGYPT AND SUDAN
This gave Egypt the right to 55.5 billion cubic metres of Nile water per year and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres

THE 1993 CAIRO FRAMEWORK
This was concluded between Egypt and Ethiopia, from which 85% of Egypt's water originates. Both countries pledged not to implement water projects harmful to the interests of the other and consult over projects to reduce waste and increase the flow of water

THE 1999 NILE BASIN INITIATIVE
The initiative brings together Nile Basin countries to develop the river in a cooperative manner, share socio-economic benefits and promote regional peace and security

THE NILE BASIN INITIATIVE CONVENTION
This convention has yet to be agreed by all Nile Basin countries. Talks in the Congolese capital Kinshasa in May over the new framework failed after Egypt refused to sign the deal. Egypt has argued that it would not approve any new framework that would deny it a right to 55.5 billion cubic metres of water per year and its veto powers over projects that would harm its allocation

RIGHT-WINGERS IN AMERICA STILL WANT OBAMA OUT

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THE NEW VISION
KAMPALA, UGANDA
Tuesday, 28th July, 2009

By Opiyo Oloya

THERE is a war going on in America right now, and they are not taking any prisoners. It is a race war, but you would not know it.

Everyone involved couches their comments in clever, carefully disguised language that only the combatants know. Most of the incoming artillery is directed at President Barack Obama, the first African American to assume that high office. It is not about scoring points in the short run, although that would be nice.

No, those pushing the racial warfare have a far loftier goal in mind—rallying enough whites to believe that Obama is a lousy president because he is black, and almost certainly against the American way of life including gun ownership and freedom of speech.

For that reason, Obama must not be re-elected in four-years’ time. And they are using every single weapon in their arsenal to reach their goal. Consider for example the big brouhaha about the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Gates Junior by Cambridge Police.

The incident started innocently enough with a call by a bystander who noticed two men jimmying a door. The police responded immediately, and upon arrival found Professor Gates already in his house. The lead officer who was white demanded that Gates produce his identification which the well known black professor did.

Words were exchanged and at some point, Professor Gates was arrested and taken to the police station. A day or so later while holding a news conference about healthcare reform President Obama was asked about the story. He acknowledged that Professor Gates was a friend, and that he knew little about the specifics of the case, but concluded that the Cambridge Police acted “stupidly” for arresting Gates in his own house.

Right wing show hosts on radio and television gleefully jumped on the phrase “acted stupidly”, and within hours twisted it around so that Obama came across as a racist president who hates whites, especially white police officers doing their jobs.

It did not matter that there are five million Americans without healthcare insurance. What mattered at that moment was pushing the president’s comments as a rallying cry for the conservatives to raise millions of anti-Obama campaign dollars.

Afraid that the story was getting out of control, Obama was forced to backtrack, call the officer who arrested Professor Gates (likely to apologise) and invite him for beer at the White House. Both Professor Gates and the officer have accepted the invitation.

Many blacks were decidedly angry with Obama for backing down on the “police acted stupidly” comment which they felt was bang on target in describing how blacks are treated by white police officers.

However, President Obama knew better—what was not being said out loud was that the racist elements among conservative whites had hijacked the storyline and turned it around so that Obama came across as the racist.

He had to put a stop to it, and he did to the dismay of right wing commentators who wanted the story to last forever. In fact, the Professor Gates incident was merely the latest ammunition for conservative America working overtime to discredit President Obama.

For weeks now, a group of conservatives quietly supported by elected officials in Washington have been pushing the racist story that Obama was born in Kenya.
At first, right-wing media commentators acted coyly around the story, pushing it without appearing to be pushing it.

Last week, the “birther’s movement”, so called because it questions the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate issued in Hawaii, gained several mainstream media support.

Leading the cheer in questioning whether Obama is an American was CNN so-called independent host Lou Dobbs. Dobbs whose racist rants against President Obama is an art form, gave the birthers a platform to continue their quest.

Later in the week, with many questioning Dobbs’ own journalistic standards, Dobbs began to wilt. But for the conservative racists who have never accepted that a black man could be president of United States, last week was a big success. They succeeded in getting big media attention in doubting whether Obama is American.

They have also successfully used the forum to get more whites to listen to right wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs for daily updates on how the Obama administration is on the verge of collapsing. Limbaugh himself openly said he would be very happy to see Obama fail. Overnight, there are bumper stickers saying: Impeach Obama.

So far, Obama has stayed above the fray, dancing nimbly like a champion pugilist, dodging incoming jabs. But make no mistake about it—the war being fought in America may have shades of class war or even an ideological one, but it is mostly a race war.

White conservatives are determined to wrest away power from the black man who dared to sit on the throne only meant for one race.

To this end, they keep digging dirt on Obama. Already, some are pushing the rumour that President Obama supports Al Qaeda (yes, they believe this too).

Most of the stuff is easily dismissed as crazy nonsense, but the conservatives believe that if they work hard at it, soon American voters will start paying attention, and begin to doubt Obama and will vote him out in four years.

Unfortunately for the racist elements in the conservative movement, President Obama is holding his own. Most importantly, the majority of Americans, blacks, whites, Latinos and so on, are still behind him.

Opiyo.oloya@sympatico.ca

SAA BOSS IN RACE ROW

· 0 comments

THE TIMES NEWSPAPER
JOHANNESBURG, SA
By Buddy Naidu and Kea Modimoeng
Published:Jul 29, 2009

Union officials claim CEO used racial slur — he calls allegation ‘a ridiculous lie’
ACTING SAA boss Chris Smyth has been accused of calling trade unionists “f*cken k*****s” during a heated confrontation in which he had to lock himself in his office.

The airline’s chief executive officer is alleged to have used the slur — which he vehemently denies — against eight shop stewards of the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union who had demanded a meeting with him on Monday.

His secretary, according to SAA, was forced to flee when union representatives tried to force their way into Smyth’s office.
The union has laid a charge of crimen injuria against Smyth with the police at OR Tambo international airport.

Smyth said yesterday the allegations against him were “criminal in nature”. He said it was a “ridiculous lie, and a malicious and deliberate fabrication”, adding that he was seeking legal advice.

But the chairman of Satawu in Gauteng, Ephraim Mphahlele, said Smyth had apologised to him for “reacting in the manner in which he did”.

Mphahlele, who was one of the eight officials against whom the slur was allegedly made, said the shop stewards had asked for a meeting with Smyth to resolve a deadlock in talks with SAA management about a union demand that three senior executives of the airline be fired.

“We waited for the CEO [who was in a meeting] and later we were told to wait in a boardroom. Finally, we were called in to the CEO’s office but, just before we got in, he [Smyth] pointed a finger at us and called us ‘f*cken k*****s’,” Mphahlele alleged.
He said he tried to defuse the situation and “pleaded” with Smyth to “calm down”.
“Immediately afterwards, in a private meeting with me, he apologised for his behaviour,” Mphahlele said.

Yesterday, in a statement released by the airline, an “outraged” Smyth said the altercation with the shop stewards was both “chaotic and volatile”.
He warned: “Unless this [allegation] is expressly withdrawn in writing, I will explore all legal avenues open to me, including laying criminal charges.”
He hit back with allegations of his own, claiming that the union officials “barged” into his office and “behaved in a disorderly fashion”.

Smyth said: “In response to the rowdiness of the situation, I shouted an instruction to the Satawu individuals to leave my office immediately. This was a chaotic situation which was created unnecessarily ... apart from loudly instructing the officials to leave, at no stage did I utter any racial insults to anybody.”
He said the move was an attempt by union officials to “sabotage relationships between Satawu and management”.

He said he had written to the union’s general secretary, Randall Howard, to inform him of his members’ “unacceptable behaviour”.
Smyth said: “My secretary was so disturbed by the outburst that she left the office in fear for her personal safety.”

In a letter sent to staff at the airline on Wednesday last week, Smyth explained how the union representatives attempted to force their way into his office.
“They initially refused to leave and I had to call for security before returning to my office. An official from human resources was sufficiently concerned about the situation that he advised me to lock my office.

“The Satawu members then attempted unsuccessfully to force their way into my office.”
The union is now demanding that Smyth apologise in writing and called on the airline to distance itself from his alleged remarks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

COULD THIS BE REAL, THAT THE REAL MICHAEL JACKSON MIGHT HAVE DIED 20 YEARS AGO??

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SANTA BARBARA, CA

During a search for evidence at the Neverland Valley Ranch, investigators discovered a corpse that has been identified as that of Michael Jackson, Santa Barbara police officials announced Tuesday.

"Coroners have officially pronounced Michael Jackson dead. From what we can tell, he died between 18 and 20 years ago," forensic investigator Tim Holbrooke said. "We are not certain, at this time, who-or what-has been standing trial in that Santa Maria courthouse."

According to Holbrooke, Jackson 's corpse was buried just inches below a stretch of the miniature-train tracks that run throughout Neverland. The largely desiccated corpse wore the remains of a red, zipper-covered leather jacket and a single glove.

"We positively identified the body as Jackson by his dental records and DNA," Holbrooke said. "But even before we conducted a single forensic test, we began to suspect that that we'd uncovered the real Michael, and that the disturbing figure claiming to be Jackson was a fake."

Holbrooke said that, although the corpse was in an advanced stage of decomposition, when investigators compared the body to early-career publicity photos ofJackson , they saw a striking resemblance in bone structure and facial features. But when they compared the body to photos taken after 1987, the resemblance was negligible.
"This discovery raises a lot of questions, but it also sheds light on a number of disturbing incidents," Holbrooke said. "Frankly, Jackson had been acting pretty strange."

Forensic experts and music critics are postulating that Jackson was dead before the release of the multi-platinum album Bad. Detectives are currently analyzing the lyrics to "Man In The Mirror" for any clues relating to a look-alike entity that many suspect murdered the youngest member of the Jackson 5 and assumed his identity.

"We believe that Neverland served as some sort of freakishly whimsical tomb constructed by Jackson 's killer," Holbrooke said. "We also suspect that all of the iniquities that occurred on that ranch were the work of the imposter. I wouldn't have ever thought it possible, but we are looking at a situation where the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer patient is the tip of the iceberg."

Holbrooke said that, while the living Jackson is the leading suspect in the murder investigation, he "could be another victim of some sort."
"Basically, we have no idea what type of creature we are dealing with," Holbrooke said.

A member of the investigative team that discovered Jackson's body described the experience as "otherworldly."

"As we neared the perimeter of Neverland, the dogs started whining and howling like crazy," Santa Barbara County detective Frank Poeller said. "We had to pull them into the house. When we got to Jackson 's bedroom, one of them almost choked himself to death on his leash trying to get out through the window. Minutes later, the same dog led us to the corpse."

A representative from Jackson 's self-created label, MJJ Productions, said he was not surprised to find out that the currentJackson is an imposter.

"When we were recording 'Heal The World' for Dangerous, I could tell something was terribly, terribly wrong," MJJ manager Luke Allard said. "Michael didn't seem like himself anymore. He'd demand bizarre food and sit for hours in a hyperbaric chamber. His appearance began to become more and more peculiar. Soon afterwards, he started wearing a mask and confiding in a chimpanzee."

"I remember thinking, 'This man has become a monster,'" Allard said. "If only I'd known how right I was."

Allard said he thinks that the imposter broke ties with Jackson 's former friends and surrounded himself with children who were too young to notice the radical change.
Vanity Fair reporter Beth Pither visited Neverland in 1994.

"A strangely fearful staff member led me to Jackson , but ran off before I opened the door," Pither said. "Standing there with my hand on an ice-cold doorknob, I heard strange, unnatural sounds-leathery wings flapping, a sorrowful wail, and loud hissing. A wave of dread passed through me as I opened the door, but all I found was Michael and some kids in pajamas eating ice cream and watching 101 Dalmatians."

While their claims have not been corroborated, other Neverland visitors have reported that when Jackson entered a room, lights flickered, faucets ran blood-red, and screams escaped from the walls.

To aid in the investigation, the FBI enlisted Dr. Richard Weingarden, a noted expert on the paranormal from UC Santa Barbara. After only two hours, Weingarden abandoned the project.

"The smell of sulfur, the decaying facial features, the bizarrely high-pitched voice-it sounds exactly like..." Weingarden said, trailing off. "I'm sure it's nothing. Not a big deal. Nothing to be terrified about, certainly. I have to go. I've got a family."

Thomas Sneddon, the prosecutor in Jackson 's child-molestation lawsuit, said it remains to be seen how the shocking discovery will affect the trial.

Megan Gustafson, who left her post as president of the Akron , OH Michael Jackson Fan Club after the singer was accused of molestation, offered a positive view of the grisly revelation.

"This is very disturbing news," Gustafson said. "But to be honest, it's kind of a relief too. Thriller and Off The Wall are really amazing records. Now I can pull them out of my 'ruined by child abuse' storage bin and start listening to them again."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BLACK PROFESSOR SAGA, A POWERPLAY NOT PREJUDICE

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By B. Carter
Associated Press

Black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested by a white police sergeant in Cambridge, Mass., reigniting a national debate over racial profiling.
The controversial arrest of black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. by a white police sergeant in Cambridge, Mass., was not necessarily about race. At its heart was a classic show of authority.

By Sandy Banks
July 25, 2009

I can already envision the hate mail this column will generate. Every time I write about anything involving race, my inbox fills with invective -- racial slurs, rants about the "welfare crowd," suggestions that I stop whining, go back to Africa and turn my "affirmative action job" over to some slighted white person.

So I know a bit about how Cambridge, Mass., Police Sgt. James Crowley must have felt when he was insulted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. after showing up to investigate a possible break-in at the professor's home.

Being accused of racism hurts, makes you want to fight back. My job requires that I not be goaded into incivility, because it's not my personal honor hanging on my response, but the reputation of my newspaper and the dignity of my profession.

I wish Crowley had thought of that during his public face-off with Professor Gates.

We don't know all the details of their encounter, but what began with Gates trying to dislodge his jammed front door ended with the 58-year-old African American scholar in handcuffs, under arrest for being -- according to Crowley's police report -- "loud and tumultuous."

The disorderly conduct charge was dropped, but the stain it left seems destined to spread. The incident has reignited a national debate over racial profiling, and even drawn the president into the back-and-forth.

But this is not as simple as black suspect, white cop. And race might not be the bottom line.

::
I was angry when I first heard the news. If "Skip" Gates -- prominent scholar, author and friend of Barack Obama -- can be arrested on his own front porch simply for mouthing off to a cop, then the rest of us "loud and tumultuous" black folks surely better stay inside.

Then I cringed when I read the officer's account of Gates' alleged tirade, riddled with the kind of "yo' momma" insults we used to trade on the school playground. I could feel Gates' fury, and imagine Crowley feeling bound to flex his power.

According to the police report, Crowley had been summoned by someone who thought Gates was breaking into the home. Gates seemed incensed by the presumption and was initially uncooperative.

But once Gates produced his driver's license and Harvard ID, it seems to me the officer's job was done. No crime, no suspect, no need to hang around.

Instead, the scene escalated. Gates began yelling for the officer's name and badge number; Crowley ordered the professor onto the porch. Gates called Crowley racially biased; Crowley warned him to calm down and unsnapped his handcuffs.

That's when the officer's actions turned a minor altercation into a national drama.

The story resonates here in Los Angeles, where the Police Department is finally shedding its generations-old reputation for callous treatment of minorities and general rudeness to civilians. The department still has a ways to go; hundreds of racial profiling complaints have been filed in recent years, and the LAPD has not considered a single one valid.

But at least our cops are more civil when they pull you over.

That's by design, said Capt. Bill Scott, a 20-year veteran who commands the northeast San Fernando Valley's Mission Division.

"We're training to have thick skin, not to take things personally," said Scott, a former training officer. "Even if the person you're dealing with is verbally attacking you, you can't react to that."

Encounters with police can be traumatic for reasons officers might not understand, he said. "If somebody's upset, you have to allow people some room to vent. There's an acceptable range of venting that's allowable and understandable."

Was Gates outside that range, I asked, with his alleged yelling and accusations of racism? "There's no perfect formula for what's allowable," Scott said. "It depends on what that officer was comfortable with. You just can't let it get to the point where somebody's safety is at risk."
I asked him if Crowley was on a power trip? "Without knowing all the facts," he said, "I don't want to be critical of that department and that officer."

But he was clear on something that every officer ought to remember.

"It's always a better outcome when you can resolve a situation by using as little of your authority as possible. And a lot of that is how you perceive the other side. . . . And whether you're willing to explain what you're doing. Instead of just issuing an order."
::
It would be naive to ignore the racial dimensions of this. A successful black man being interrogated in his own home, Gates may have seen the white cop as disrespectful. And Crowley, a well-regarded white officer, probably expected deference, not insults, from the black man he'd been called to help.

But at its heart, this is a power struggle that didn't have to happen. The police -- as Obama put it before he felt compelled to back off -- acted stupidly.

I can see hands poised over keyboard now, ready to unleash a flood of e-mails. So here I go:

Professor Gates should have been more polite. The officer arrived to investigate a crime report. Gates may have had a legitimate gripe, but that does not excuse the rant described in Crowley's police report. Police officers deserve respect -- just like teachers and grocery store clerks and even newspaper reporters.

Sgt. Crowley should have been able to defuse the situation without bringing the handcuffs out. I understand that police officers have a difficult job to do, but taking guff is part of the job description. A police department's reputation and success rest on the attitude of its officers.

We ought to stop seeing this as a referendum on racism and ask what it says about the attitude police officers display toward the taxpayers who fund their paychecks.

We rely for our safety on their good judgment. Yet every time I write about some cop embroiled in a controversy, I hear from people of every race -- teenagers, housewives, businessmen -- relaying stories of encounters with rude or unreasonable police.

In the end, this may not be at all about racial profiling, but about the line between dangerous defiance of police and mindless submission to authority. And whether being "loud and tumultuous" ought to land a righteously angry man behind bars.

sandy.banks@latimes.com

1. Nothing more the a black with an attitude, nothing unusual here, it happens all the time. Lets move on.

Submitted by: Charles Duran
8:05 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
2. Tempest in a teapot. This isn't Rodney King, okay? I am a middle-aged white guy who was hassled by a white, female police officer over suspicion of DUI (DWI). Her questions were aggressive and accusatory. I'm sure she wanted me to pop off (see 'pop off' -Urban Dictionary) at her so she could haul me in. I kept my temper and didn't pop off. I blew a 0.0 on the breathalyzer and she was really torqued about that, but she had to let me go. I considered filing a complaint against her, but after a few days, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble. Instead, I offer this advice to all who are ever confronted by a police officer: Stay cool, my friends.

Submitted by: Not Loco
7:48 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
3. I think this was a well balanced and nuanced assessment of what took place. As with most things, where you stand - on an issue - depends on where you sit. As my late mother would like to say "things aren't always what they seem, but you won't see that if you're blind in one eye and and can't see out the other". This was an excellent summation of events given the circumstances.

Submitted by: Tblairjr
7:24 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
4. If the cop had drawn a weapon and demanded Gates (and his driver) assume a spread eagle position, then there would be a good case for bigotry. It would indicate that the cop assumed the men were criminals based on their race. But the cop didn't do this. Instead Gates berated him. This is a Harvard professor and he uses phrases like "yo mama." The incident fuels the stereotype that black folks are quick to anger and cry racism. But hey, at least we're talking about race in America!

Submitted by: Deke
7:18 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
5. I'm white, but I think this issue was due to both power and predjudice. Folks should consider all the subtle ways that racism can be brought to bear. From how the person "in question" is approached - as another commenter said - since Gates is black, I'd be willing to bet Crwoley went in with a completely different attitude than he would have if dealing with a white man (in fact, we all know that neighbor would have likely not even called the police!). But I agree with the author - this is also yet another incident of testosterone-flooded cops needing to flex their muscles. Good article.

Submitted by: Anna B
7:02 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
6. I think the broader implementation is that "if your Black you belong to a privaleaged group". The underlying percetion is that no other Racial group could have the President intervene on your behalf. What is at issue is credibilty, and believabilty. Before a cultural movement like the "Civil Rigts Movement" starts to become obsolete and no longer supportable, it first loose credibilty. Change is upon us. I would speculate Civil Rirgts will no become known as " Privaleaged Rights.

Submitted by: Mr. J
6:54 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
7. You all know better than that. Cop can not walk away with the brother all in a adgitated state of mind like that. Brother got to calm down or he going downtown and that is what happen. Cop leave and brother go off on someone else aftweard and cop is on the hook. You all know that to be true. Brother got to calm down no matter what color. Cop just doing his job as best he can. Cops help me a few times and I thank them.

Submitted by: Ben
6:43 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
8. This is a race issue. A black man was trying to "break in" to his own home and police were called. An investigation was conducted and after it was established that the man breaking in did indeed reside there, a 20 year veteran of the police department proceeded to arrest him because he was offensive? The sergeant should have left the property after the black man showed his identification. If the professor insulted the officers, he was exercising his 1st ammendment right to free speech. Clearly an abuse of power. Our president is a coward for recinding his first comment on the arrest.

Submitted by: Angryand White
6:36 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
9. Sandy, Crowley is a trainer of race profiling and Gaines is a college professor...two people whose egos got in the way of their use of common sense. Go figure! I have no sympathy for either. J
S

11. Liked your column. I still think the President got it right the first time. Growing up in the early 70s at the time of Kent State gave me a healthy fear of anyone carrying guns. I think this police officer was pretty much the typical egotistical cop.

Submitted by: cm rodriguez
5:57 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
12. The officer acted stupidly. Period. Yes, it is his job to be the bigger man. He's got a gun and a great deal of authority that we, the people, entrust him with. Walk away. It wasn't about race, it was about ego. Bates' ego is not against the law, and the cop's authority does not extend to defending his own ego. There was no safety concern, (safety is so over-used by cops as convenient justification for force). This was a man's home, proven and no longer in dispute WAY in advance of this incident.

Professor 1, Cops 0.
Submitted by: Guido
5:35 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
13. I'm getting tired of black and latinos crying 'racism' so often, so if 75 percent of crimes are committed by blacks and latinos then police should NOT arrest them in corresponding (75 percent) proportions? If you cause most of the crime then police will check you more, you get the consequences PS: once away with this president important topics are sidetracked with race issues, it will be hard to focus and fix America for 4 years

Submitted by: JPs
5:27 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
14. Good article. I was ready to go off on you and call u a anti white racist. But bingo cops need to realize that we the people pay their salary. On the same not the whole yo momma thing doesn't sound very scolarly of a man of higher learning. To wrongs don't make one right. They were both wrong. The real idiot that should know when to keep his mouth shut and stick to trying to fix our economy is our president.

Submitted by: Bruno
5:12 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
15. It appears that Prof. Gates was perturbed by the officer's questioning, and he acted carelessly. And it appears that the officer had thin skin. No. I do not think this was racial profiling, rather two men who didn't know how to defuse a minor problem. Certainly they both had an ego. Prof. Gates wasted four hour of his time at the police station and it is a lesson that he should have already learned.

Submitted by: Fred Wright
5:05 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
16. The officer was clearly doing his job. Wright, Obama and Gates are the same people. Black men with a chip on their shoulder.

Submitted by: Taylor poize
4:56 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
17. the black man acted inappropriately, refused to comply and was arrested. Good#
Submitted by: take him out ghetto, but he is ghetto


4:49 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
18. cheers, cops need to thicken up and accept the frustration folks feel. The cop should have just walked away and allowed the man to feel his emotions.
Submitted by: selma jones

4:30 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
19. It is amazing how the police treat you when you are polite and courteous to them.

Submitted by: All's fair
4:18 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
20. Great article, and your points are right on and very well elucidated. The situation should never have escalated like it did. Point of fact this was in fact his home, supported by proof that Prof. Gates provided. The incident should have ended there, period, end of argument

Submitted by: ROB
3:57 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
21. Interesting, isn't it, how you expect the cop, who holds a much lower social station and makes less than half of what the "distinguished ethnic studies professor" makes, to be the "bigger man"? Isn't that just your own racial bias coming forward? Yes, we have come to a point where even black Americans routinely hold blacks to a significantly lower standard that whites. You would better serve the cause of equality by condemning, rather than trying to excuse the boorish (and stupid) behavior of Dr. Gates. The best way to stop discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating based on race.

Submitted by: Windfall
3:36 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
22. There is a lot to be said for intolerance on both sides of this issue when it seems as though a highly respected Professor and Cambridge officer are BOTH culpable for how this fanned out. It seems a little curious that if there weren't an African-American in the White House, then maybe this would've been another slow news day. Give yourself an extra helping of rational, Sandy. I agree that this was fueled by cooler heads not prevailing.

Submitted by: James McChesney Ranson
2:57 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
23. oh GAWD why why WHY do you have to repeat and support the 'stupidly' comment!! Jeez the rest of the column is sensitive but why twist the knife? The column is a reasonable defense of the idea that what has been done at LAPD should be done at other agencies. But the column doesn't support the idea that the officer acted stupidly. Why twist the knife?????????

Submitted by: JÜRGEN ASIF JIMBOB MOHAMMED
2:42 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
24. I agree that both Crowley and Gates overreacted. Unfortunately, this incident and Obama's choice of words have reinforced prejudices that different people already have about "blacks", "whites", civilians and cops. Thank you for the article and Brandon's comment.

Submitted by: mitch
2:40 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
25. If a cop asks you to chill out, you chill out. You don't get in his face. Gates should have handed over his ID, waited until the officer finished his questions, then taken the badge number and filed a complaint. Furthermore, it is part of a police officer's job to be patient, but to defuse a potentially hostile situation as quickly as you can. I think it's ridiculous to think that the officer is going to stand there and let the situation escalate. Isn't that how situations turn ugly?
Submitted by: Thankless job

2:39 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
26. You're not a journalist but a propogandist.

Submitted by: Enough of this
2:39 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
27. I agree, they both could have been more civil. The officer was simply responding to a call, but did not have to go as far as arresting the man, despite the verbal attack. Racial profiling happens all of the time, but this is not a clear case of profiling. The officer had to ask for his ID. Perhaps there was a racial bias from the woman who made the call.

Submitted by: 2hotheads
2:21 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
28. The police should never arrest a citizen for disturbing the public when they can easily surmise the only reason for the disturbence was the police interaction. From the facts of this case, it was easy to asertain that Dr. Gates wouldn't be a public threat when the police left so it was an abuse of police power to arrest and detain Dr. Gates for four hours for just being rude and a jerk.

Submitted by: james
1:58 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
29. I think it is comical and frankly quite ridiculous how the news media and talk shows are all using Biden's,...I mean Obama's lines in claiming "We don't know all the facts or details" or "We don't know what exactly happened", where for any other similar news story, they would report what happened "according to police reports". To me this is like implying that in this particular case, the police report is missing details and potentially falsified. On a separate note, we don't know all the details (here we go again), but charges are dropped for many reasons, not necessarily because the arrested person is not guilty of any crime.

Submitted by: Ram N.
1:52 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
30. who was neighbor who called police? would this be done if gates was white? there's never a getting away from our racial history in this country. (I'm white, live in LA & still see it every day, little ways and big) Obama had gut reaction- b/c he's a black man! this still news to some.

Submitted by: Julie
1:38 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
31. Enjoyed the article. This was about ego, nothing more nothing less. The President was wrong to comment on this matter without knowing all of the facts. Also,as he is a personal friend of Professor Gates he should have clarified that his statement was that of a friend or as the President of the United States. BIG difference!

Submitted by: MikeG
1:36 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
32. Just so, well put. I'm white but have experienced police power-trippers, and you just have to bite your tongue. Gates should be the educated cultured man and apologize; Cop should also, defuse this w/ grace. we'll see.

Submitted by: Julie
1:35 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
33. I appreciate Ms Banks for her insight. I agree that we humans don't easily recognize our own privilege - whether bestowed by race or gender or the status of occupation. This is not about "playing the race card" but about engaging in a discussion and being willing to look at things from another's point of view. Probably the officer wasn't looking at this as a racial act - but could Gates, based on his experience, view it in another way? And who is this "you people" Mike is talking about? I'm a Caucasian woman who is welcoming the opportunity we now have, with President Obama, to bring this topic into the light of day.

Submitted by: Anneke HC
1:31 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
34. Maybe the Officer should have re-grouped when it was established that the complaining party lived there and just said have a nice day. Race was not an issue. Being a Police Officer for the last 25 years, I have had alot of people in my face. It's easier for me to ignore someone with a chip on their shoulder than create problems for me at the job later. BTW, I do feel that the African American in this instance is the RACIST, not the white cop. Error in judgement only.

Submitted by: Joe
1:25 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
35. I think that Prof. Gates had a temper tantrum and should have kept his cool. It takes two to escalate the situation. Sad that it became such a cause celebre.

Submitted by: kathy K
1:12 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
36. The actions of Professor Gates were uncalled for as he is supposed to be a positive role model to all young folks. Sgt. Crowley followed protocol yet he is being painted as a racist. The two men involved took this incident to a level that should have not been reached. Get over it and focus on our health care system.

Submitted by: sandystar
1:09 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
37. People need to get over this and realize that this is the way it is, but really has changed drastically. Once upon a time cops would have given someone a beat down for acting out like the Professor. I've been insulted and slighted by blacks who think their ...t doesn't stink, and it was not a pleasant experience yet I walked away graciously.

Submitted by: sandystar
1:06 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
38. The Prez hit the nail on the head...

Submitted by: Al
1:05 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
39. Just like any other gang, police (not all police), are gang bangers with guns and badges bang'n with all the protection of the Law.

Submitted by: Al
1:04 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
40. YOU OUGHT TO BE THE PRESIDENT'S CHIEF OF STAFF,THANKS FOR A GREAT STORY!!

Submitted by: Brian chamberlin,CARSON CITY,NV
41. Gates behavior is indicative of what was once reserved for "well-to- white folks only. So blacks have come a long way. It is apparent that many people of major minority groups currently think they are above the law just because of the status symbols they have acquired as well as being educated. I cringe each time I see the picture of Professor Gates with his mouth wide open. Yes, there is racial profiling going on in the United States, but the that does not give anyone (white or black) to believe they are too special to be arrested.

Submitted by: star
1:01 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
42. The power play might cut both ways here. Tired prof returns from road trip, is frustrated at having to jimmy open a stuck front door. Cop in charge at the scene has to steel himself for the unknown. Juices flowing, they both succeed in infuriating each other. I'll bet a leading Ivy League prof of any race is fully capable of exhibiting as much arrogance as most cops. When their anger flashed, they both called, atavistically, on the cultural stereotype that fit their training or mindset in that particular situation. Were the circumstances even slightly different, the whole thing might not have happened. Let's call the whole thing off.

Submitted by: Dan
12:56 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
43. Why did the prof. have to immediately play the race card? I am 50% Asian, 50% black and live in a neighborhood where police rarely come for a simple call like burglary in progress. I'd be grateful to see the officer and would have thanked the guy for checking into the matter. Sounds like the good professor has a rather monumental chip on his shoulders.

Submitted by: A.G. Lamars
12:41 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
44. This case is about the expectations of a man who spends his life preaching that white people are racists, always have been,a nd always will be. That's how he defines his life. Gates saw a white face in a blue uniform, and immediately became combative IN RESPONSE TO HIS OWN EXPECTATION. If he hadn't been arrested, the story on the news now would have been that he intimidated the cops into leaving him alone!!!

Submitted by: Sheryl
12:30 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
45. The media, Gates, and Obama are keeping racism alive. This story should never have been anything more than "A disorderly homeowner was arrested by the police". Why does the color of either man's skin make a difference? Because the Media and Gates are making it. They're afraid that since Obama became president, people are using it as a watershed moment to call for the end of all sort of outdated programs. The minority community need to keep the pressure on before they lose those advantage benefits. That's the definition of racism and the cops are calling them on it.

Submitted by: Scott
12:20 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
46. I have always believed and have personally experienced that no matter how bad something is, good can be found. The Cambridge incident is a simple reminder that people must still try to live and get along, even if you are a Harvard Law Professor or a Sergeant of Police. We need to learn how to step back and assess what has occurred before we jump to unfair conclusions.

Submitted by: Michael Barela
12:07 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
47. Sandy Banks is right to see the face-off between Gates and Crowley as a matter of poer. I call the event a duel where honor - I use the term delibaretely - was at stake. Honor is essentially a male, macho value, and once one party has insulted the other party, retreat is impossible, especially if it is a public event, as it became once the two men stepped outside to the front porch, in view of spectators. For Gates, that honor was the concept 'a man's home is his castle.' For the police officer, honor is the dignity of the state, the badge, the whole 'heroic' thing we hear so often in regard to the police, the military, etc.

Submitted by: fred sommer
12:05 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
48. Sandy, you are right across the board. The problem is that as human being, which we all are, communication has turned into a simple element we just cant do. One of the commenters but this into prospective by the term YOU PEOPLE..... a word so many have heard all of their lives.... a term used to make persons feel that their are above or beneath dependent upon prospection. The issue remain until we all get along, hate and isms will continue to have power.

Submitted by: darleen
12:01 PM PDT, July 25, 2009
49. One of the excesses of power that helped bring about the American Revolution was the fact that the King of England didn't respect the sanctity of American homes. He quartered troops where ever he wished. What sort of person can disregard the right of a man to be in his own home without duress and still consider themselves to be an American?

Submitted by: Scott
11:59 AM PDT, July 25, 2009
50. Your closing sentence refers to Gates as a "rightously" angry man. I disagree. He was smug and disrespectful of someone who was responding to help protect his safety and property. He could have thanked the officer for responding to a burglary call. Instead he escalated the situation. When you're a hammer everything looks like a nail. Gates needs to wake up and view the world rationally. This is not 1950. The world has moved on.

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