Wednesday, June 30, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 30, 2010

Dear Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga,

First things first; let me, my colleagues and fellow Kenyans convey our sincere words of comfort to you at this moment in time together with your immediate family at this point when you are recovering from a minor operation at Nairobi Hospital. Millions of ordinary Kenyans who may not personally visit you in hospital wish you a speedy recovery so that you can resume your normal national duties and obligations.

The news of your hospitalization on Monday evening caught many of us unawares especially when the whole weekend and Monday, we had been following your activities in Western Kenya and Nairobi. Your abundant energy that has been on display for years now made many Kenyans almost believe that you cannot be put down with a minor health issue like a cold or fatigue. It is this public perception of your persona that got Kenyans deeply concerned.

Much as it came to many Kenyans and the international community as a surprise, it also reminded us that as human beings, we are mortal and therefore vulnerable to the forces of nature, the more reason Kenyans must ask you to take a break and rest meaningfully in order to reenergize.

What was intriguing was the message that your hospitalization conveyed. That as an individual, you can command the headlines in all networks in this country at a time when prime time news have been dominated by either the Red and Green referendum campaigns or the World Cap tournament in its crucial stage in South Africa. Therefore, much as you are a well known political animal in this part of the world, your hospitalization took the thunder out of political news as we know them. For us, you became that human interest story that this country so badly needed at this point in time. It was a break from the usual politics that Kenyans badly needed.

When Kenyans went to bed with the news that you had been operated on, more so when most national networks had repeatedly carried it the whole day, the fact that you dominated the entire headlines in four leading newspapers was something to write home about. From the Daily Nation to the People Daily; from the Standard to the Star, you were the headline story almost word for word in every newspaper, radio station and TV network.

The reason your story has been so important to Kenya is simple. They remember very clearly when President Mwai Kibaki was involved in an accident during the 2002 campaigns. When Kenyans were worried that the presidential candidate would no longer lead the campaign, you were quick to assure them that “though the captain was injured, the game would go on”. And indeed the game went on and Narc worn the match.

The reasons Kenyans have been concerned and worried about your hospitalization are rather straight forward and clear. First, it is the love they have for you as a person and as their leader.

Second, they do not want anything to go wrong with the campaign for the constitution at this crucial stage in our lives.

They know your resolve and commitment to deliver a new constitution for this country before the end of this year. They also know that you share in this ideal with the President, the Vice President and all those political leaders that have been on the campaign trail with you.

If Kenyans were worried that your hospitalization would adversely affect the Green campaign in the coming days and weeks, the Naivasha MP, Hon Mututho couldn’t have captured that mood any better.

The controversial MP confessed that your campaign style and lobbying techniques were unparalleled in crucial moments like this. To Mututho, even a phone call to MPs from you on your hospital bed can turn tables in a crucial campaign such as this one.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing that has happened to Kenyans at this time is that you have unfettered the flow of information in this country. Yours was a case study in Freedom of Information as Kenyans envisage it in the proposed constitution. They have followed in detail information that has been freely given by your doctors. Video footages coming from the hospital have confirmed to Kenyans that though you were hospitalized and even operated on, you are indeed on the road to a quick recovery. Nobody, not your family, not your doctors tried to create barriers to communication and in fact they generously gave details about your ailment.

In contrast, in the past, Kenyans have been treated to guess work and rumor mongering whenever a senior government fell ill. This mystery about our leaders’ health has always fuelled cheap gossip and unfounded rumor with devastating effect on our lives. Kenyans have a right to know if their leaders fall ill and the nature of the ailment. You have just done that the first time you have been hospitalized in Kenya.

We wish you well Waziri Mkuu.



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 30, 2010

On July 1, 1977, the then East African Community disintegrated after its budget for 1977/78 failed to pass during the June 10 1977 budget debate. Exactly 33 years later, East Africans witnessed yesterday the reopening of its borders for goods, services and persons under the new Common Market arrangement.

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional economic block comprising the five east African countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. With a land surface area of 1.8 sq km and a combined population of 130 million, it is an economic power house with a consumer base that can only be matched by Nigeria in West Africa. The two elements are what drive East Africans and foreign investors alike in nudging the region to integrate its market sooner rather than later.

While generally, member nations are largely in favor of the East African Federation, informal polls have always indicated that most Tanzanians are not in favor. The reason Tanzanians are reluctant to federate now has got to do with historical fears and anxieties based on their frosty relations with Kenya and Uganda since independence. Another fear is that because Tanzania has more land than the other EAC nations combined, its citizens fear that their land would be grabbed by the current residents of partner states particularly land hungry Kenyans.

Land scarcity is a recurring issue in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, where clashes on the Kenyan side of Mount Elgon in 2007 and many parts of Rift Valley have claimed many lives in recent years.

The first major step in establishing the East African Federation since the collapse of 1967 Treaty in July 1997 was the revival of the Customs Union in East Africa signed in March 2004 which commenced on 1 January 2005. Under the terms of this treaty, Kenya, the region's most industrialized and largest exporter would continue to pay duties on its goods entering the other four countries until 2010, based on a declining scale. A common system of tariffs would apply to goods imported from third-party countries.

The EAC was originally founded in 1967, but collapsed on July 1 1977 due to ideological political differences among then heads of state. It was officially revived on 7 July 2000.

Of all the EAC member states, Tanzania has had a relatively peaceful history since achieving independence, in contrast to the wars and civil strife that have occurred in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. Today, East Africa seeks to maintain stability and prosperity in the midst of ongoing conflicts in the D.R. Congo, the Horn of Africa, and Southern Sudan.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have had a history of co-operation dating back to the early 20th century, including the Customs Union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which the then Tanganyika joined in 1927, the East African High Commission from 1948-1961, the East African Common Services Organization from 1961-1967 and the East African Community from 1967-1977.

Inter-territorial co-operation between Kenya Colony, Uganda Protectorate and Tanganyika Territory was first formalized in 1948 by the East African High Commission. This provided a Customs Union, a common external tariff, currency and postage; and also dealt with common services in transport and communications, research and education.

Following independence, these integrated activities were reconstituted and the High Commission was replaced by the East African Common Services Organization, which many observers thought would lead to a political federation between the three territories. The new organization ran into difficulties because of lack of joint planning and fiscal policy, separate political policies and Kenya's dominant economic position.

In 1967 the East African Common Services Organization was superseded by the East African Community. This body aimed to strengthen the ties between member states through a Common Market, a common Customs tariff and a range of public services so as to achieve balanced economic growth within the region.

On July 1 1977, the East African Community collapsed after ten years due to demands by Kenya to have more seats than Uganda and Tanzania in decision-making organs, amid disagreements caused by dictatorship under Idi Amin in Uganda, socialism in Tanzania, and capitalism in Kenya. In the end the three member states lost over sixty years of co-operation and the benefits of economies of scale. Each of the former member states had to embark, at great expense and at lower efficiency, upon the establishment of services and industries that had previously been provided at the Community level.

16 years later, Presidents Moi of Kenya, Mwinyi of Tanzania, and Museveni of Uganda signed the Treaty for East African Co-operation in Arusha, Tanzania, on 30 November 1993, and established a Tri-partite Commission for Co-operation. A process of re-integration was embarked on involving tripartite programs of co-operation in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defense, security, legal and judicial affairs.

It is argued that key drivers for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in the quest for regional integration are that Kenya wishes to export surplus capital as Uganda seeks an outlet for its surplus labor while Tanzania wants to realize a Pan-African vision. However, it is also argued that commonalities go far deeper than these economic and political benefits. Many national elites old enough to remember the former Community often share memories and a sharp sense of loss following its eventual dissolution.

However, cynics argue that this historical ambition provides the potential for current politicians to present themselves as statesmen of a higher order and as representatives of a greater regional interest. Furthermore, EAC institutions bring significant new powers to buy loyalty from those who serve in them.

Some even question the extent to which the visions of a political union are shared outside the elite and the relatively elderly East Africans, further arguing that the youthful masses are not well informed about the process and benefits in any of the countries. While others point to an enhanced sense of East African identity developing from modern communications, commitment to the formal EAC idea is relatively narrow, in both social and generational terms and thus many question the timetable drawn up for the project.

Fast-tracking political union was first discussed in 2004 and enjoyed a consensus on the subject among the then three heads of state. Following this executive consensus, a high-level committee headed by Hon. Amos Wako of Kenya was commissioned to investigate the possibility of speeding up the process of integration so as to achieve political federation sooner than previously visualized. Yet there were concerns that rapid changes would inject reactionary politics against the project.

There is an argument however, that there are high costs that would be required at the beginning and that fast-tracking the project would allow the benefits to be seen earlier. There however, remain significant political differences between the states. Museveni’s success in obtaining his third-term amendment in 2005 raised serious concerns in the other countries. The single-party dominance in the Tanzanian and Ugandan parliaments was seen as unattractive to Kenyans, while Kenya's ethnic-politics made many people apprehensive in Tanzania.

Rwanda has had a distinctive political culture with a political elite committed to building a developmental state, partly in order to safeguard the Tutsi group against a return to ethnic violence.

Other problems dogging the EAC political integration are to do with some states being reluctant to relinquish involvement in other regional groups, e.g. Tanzania’s withdrawal from COMESA but staying within the SADC bloc

Many Tanzanians are also concerned that creating a Common Market means removing obstacles to the free movement of both labor and capital. Free movement of labor may be perceived as highly desirable in Uganda and Kenya, and have important developmental benefits in Tanzania, however in Tanzania there is widespread resistance to the idea of ceding land rights to foreigners including citizens of Kenya and Uganda.

Jerry Okungu

Wikipedia and Internet sources

Tuesday, June 29, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 29, 2010

July 1987 will always remain engraved in my memory for years to come. It was the year I first travelled to Dar Es Salaam that exotic city by the Indian Ocean that I had hitherto only in the news or history books.

The reason I went to the Harbour of Peace was to attend the then famous Saba Saba International Trade Fair that attracted corporate companies in East Africa. It was called Saba Saba because it always took place on the seventh day of July every year.

I travelled to Dar as an exhibitor in the textile category since I worked in Kisumu then as head of Sales and Marketing at Kisumu Cotton Mills Limited. However, what I realized even before I left Kisumu was that this trip to a neighboring East African country would not be as smooth sailing as it might have happened ten years earlier. I needed to prepare my travel documents together with my US dollars as if I was going to Europe or some distant destination in West Africa.

Ten years earlier, I would not have needed foreign currency, a valid passport or a yellow card. It wasn’t necessary because we East Africans were one country and one family. After July 1, 1977, the situation drastically changed. First the borders with Tanzania were temporarily closed and when they were eventually reopened, all the rules governing foreigners were imposed on Kenyans just as the Kenyan authorities did the same to visiting Tanzanians.

On arriving at the sweltering Dar es Salaam Airport, Customs and Immigration officials left nothing to chance. We Kenyans just like other nationals from the Middle East and the Far East were subjected to thorough body search. Our luggage were emptied at the Customs Desks and turned upside down. When the ordeal was over, with details of our place of stay in Dar , the number of nights recorded, we were ordered to change US $ 50.00 at the airport irrespective whether we needed to spend all that money or not. In those days, any unspent Tanzanian shillings when one left the country were not exchangeable for foreign currencies. Incoming visitors were advised to spend all T Shillings they had changed before departure or else they would be forced to carry the worthless currencies back home.

This trip to Dar was just two years following Mwalimu Nyerere’s departure from politics. His shadow still hovered over President Mwinyi in almost all spheres of life. One thing that struck me was that Dar was relatively expensive compared to Kisumu or Nairobi. A bottle of beer was the equivalent of Ksh 15.00 when it was still Ksh 5.00 within our borders.

Walking along the streets of Dar revealed an economy in dire straits. Shop shelves were empty. Nationalization of the means of production, export and import sectors had caused capital flight. It was when I realized that most of my Kenyan colleagues that had relatives and friends in Dar had carried such basic commodities as Kimbo, Blue Band, bar soap, Omo, maize meal and sugar.

One needs to understand that prior to July 1, 1977 when the economies of the three East African countries functioned together, such shortages were unheard of because free movement of people, goods and services flowed in all directions. The closure of the borders had done untold damage to the ordinary people of Tanzania who had for years depended on regular supplies from Kenya.

When I next visited Dar es Salaam seven years later as an investor, the situation had drastically changed. President Mwinyi had eased travel between Kenya and Tanzania, especially across the Namanga border. Goods had returned to the shelves and streets were awash with four wheel fuel guzzlers. Mwinyi had slowly moved Tanzania away from Nyerere’s socialist ideology and opened the country to free market economy.

Therefore by the time I was ready to launch the East African Newspaper in 1994, Dar es Salaam had changed in more ways than one. IPP Ltd had become a manufacturing and distribution force to reckon with. Not only that, its CEO Mr. Reginald Mengi got inspired by our newspaper investment and went ahead to open the first TV station in Tanzania together with at least three newspaper titles before we even launched our paper.

What I remember most was the speech Benjamin Mkapa the incoming Third President of Tanzania made when he came to launch our paper at Kilimanjaro Hotel. He used that occasion to implore East Africans to embrace the paper as it would create a forum in which all East Africans would debate and exchange ideas about the future of East Africa.

Looking back now, I can see that what we saw as a purely economic venture triggered off something nobler that was not a priority in our mind. Suddenly East Africans in the three states started engaging in debate on crucial issues that they had struggled with for 17 years since the collapse of the EAC. And as the debate continued, the East African Heads of took the cue and started pursuing the revival of the East African Community with vigor. Five years later, a new EAC Treaty was signed at Arusha.

The rest is now history.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 23, 2010

I grew up as a child of God in a respected Christian family. By the time I was born, my parents had been Christians for close to two decades.

In all my life as I grew up, Christian worship both at home and in church was a solemn affair. There were standard hymns to be sung before, during and after service. Church service was never an open ended affair with endless preaching, beating of drums and general chaotic mess like the one we have today.

In those days, Church tithes were voluntary, for a purpose and were based on each according to their means. There were no standard amounts, compulsory contributions or even “Thank You Lord” amounts according to how long one had lived on earth. These are the array of illegal taxations the modern church is busing extracting from its followers.

The good old Christianity was for true believers in Christ. It was led by real men of faith. There were no missionary merchants like the ones we have today. In this day and age, the most notorious exploiters are the money minded fake evangelists that pass for televangelists. I wish they behaved like good old Billy Graham who preached true Christianity and built an empire to serve humanity.

Today, our television screens are awash with fake preachers, fake prophets in sheep’s clothes, fake miracle workers and outright conmen and women, all stealing and robbing in the name of the Lord. One wonders if Jesus were to return today and catch them in the act stealing in the house of His Father! He would definitely not hesitate to whip them just like He did with those money changers he chased out of the temple in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago.

If Jesus and the 12 disciples traversed the desert lands of Palestine on foot preaching the gospel; if after his death, his disciples and apostles continued in the same tradition suffering to build the church of Christ and praying for the sick and the needy, why are our modern day prophets living in obscene opulence from tithes and other forced contributions collected from their suffering followers?

I long for the days when Cardinal Maurice Otunga was head of the Catholic Church in Kenya. I long for those good old days when Arch-Bishop Festo Olang' headed the Anglican Church or Bishop Birech and Bishop Gitari were at the helms of their churches. In those days a local pastor or a catholic father was a respected village elder. Ordinary parishioners went to him for counseling and spiritual guidance. The man of God was content to visit his parishioners and share whatever meal there was with that family without any cash demands for prayer. He put no demands on his congregation.

My father was a local church deacon for decades. He traversed our villages whenever he was called upon by a distressed family that needed prayer and counseling. He attended to the sick and bereaved families with maximum solemnity and utmost supplication to our God on high. He never dramatized his prayers. There were no theatrics or faked miracles in the air. He never pretended to ostracize demons, heal the sick or cause barren women to conceive miracle babies. He offered all these services on behalf of his church and his God because he believed that his rewards would wait for him in heaven.

Where is this self denial that Jesus so eloquently preached when he was on earth? Where is the spirit of sharing with our neighbors that little that we have that Jesus commanded us to do? Do our priests remember the parable of the young rich man who went to Jesus asking what to do in order to enter the kingdom of God? Didn’t Jesus ask him to give up all his earthly possession, distribute them to the poor and follow him? How come our modern day preachers are more ready to receive than to give?

Where is the good old Christianity of Billy Graham, Desmond Tutu, Bishop Okullu, Alexander Muge Manasses Kuria and Timothy Njoya?

Today, instead of televangelists concentrating on spreading the gospel, they have converted their so called churches into commercial enterprises complete with bank accounts, telephone numbers and M-PESA accounts. Today, there is no televangelist that can deliver a sermon without cajoling and coercing viewers to contact him or her and MPESA something small for their prayers. If it hadn’t been for pure greed for the one thousand shilling notes that two known televangelists had lined up Uhuru Park worshippers to give, perhaps so many Kenyans would not have lost their lives or got injured in a bomb attack. Good Christian priests would have prayed and worshipped for two hours and dispersed the crowd before 6pm.

Now the same corrupt and greedy lot are claiming that they want to enter politics to clean it up! They have forgotten the parable of the log in a neighbor’s eye that Jesus so eloquently used to illustrate the vanity of self righteousness. Before our evangelicals enter politics to clean it up, let them clean their churches that have become battle grounds for property and dens of corruption before they attempt to remove the log from our politicians’ eyes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

June 22, 2010

Nairobi, Kenya

Television cameras didn’t lie. Eye witnesses didn’t lie. Journalists covering the Kisumu riots didn’t lie. Yet, one constable Edward Kirui, the policeman who chased and shot unarmed teenagers at close range and kicked their lifeless bodies is a free man; courtesy of Kenya’s legendary justice system. What callousness can this be? What kind of justice is this?

As the good judge ordered Kirui freed for lack of credible evidence for the murder of William Onyango and Ismael Chacha, the family of the man that epitomized police brutality in 2008 post election violence burst out in jubilation claiming that at last justice had been done.

To the eye witnesses that saw the horror of the shooting in cold blood; to the world that saw it played on international networks over and over again, that scene will remain engraved in their memories.

This trial can only confirm one thing; that the judicial system is in tatters. It is naked justice that knows no shame or conscience. It is not even blind justice. It is rotten justice where the common man can be shot dead like an animal and the aggressor will never face justice. It is testimony why there have been so many police killings in our slums and rural areas without any one of them facing the law.

The Kisumu case was interesting and even intriguing in many ways. First, the suspect was positively identified by his own colleagues that investigated the double murder. He was caught on camera shooting and kicking the helpless kids at close range. Yes, the gun the bullets he had that day did not match the spent cartridges found on the scene of the shooting. Yet those were the exhibits that were presented to the court by the prosecution.

The question to ask is this: Doesn’t basic police training in investigating a crime of this nature require the guns and bullets to go for ballistic testing to confirm that indeed they are the same weapons that indeed were used? If ballistic tests were done and the weapons, cartridges and all were found not to match, why were they presented at the trial as exhibits? Since there were eye witnesses to the grisly murder including recorded tapes of that macabre act, how come the judge allowed the villain off the hook even when he had strong suspicion that the investigating officers might have knowingly switched the weapons to save the skin of one of their own?

This case has reminded me of my personal experience at Makadara court in Nairobi nearly ten years ago. In my case, a bugler was caught red-handed in broad day light loading all my electronic belongings into a sack. The police were called, he was arrested and charged. There were ten witnesses that testified against him. We had enough exhibits to send him to prison for a long time. In the end the man went scot-free due “for lack of sufficient evidence” if you know what I mean. It happens all the time in our lives in this country.

The Kirui case has reminded us of one truth. When police kill our relatives in cold blood, it is foolhardy to imagine that they can investigate themselves and hang themselves on our behalf. Their first loyalty is to their comrades. Trusting in them to investigate cases that involve them is like asking a cattle rustler who has run away with your cattle to help you find them. Chances are that he will lead you in the opposite direction. This is what the Kisumu crime busters have done for the Onyango and Chacha families.

As the family of Kirui celebrated their victory, where were the families of Onyango and Chacha? Were they not worth the mention in this flawed justice? Did anybody remember the agony they have gone through waiting for the elusive justice for the past two years? Didn’t they matter in this process?

Yes, Constable Edward Kirui may have gone free but what is the worth of that freedom when deep down in his heart he knows he murdered those unarmed Kenyans in cold blood? When all is said and done, the innocence of a known murderer amounts to nothing if not more tormented soul.

The Kisumu fiasco is a clear testimony that the judicial process, all the way from the police to the justice is rotten to the bone. Now ordinary Kenyans can confirm that there is no justice for the common man in our system. We therefore must resolve that those crying for justice arising from the post election mayhem must look elsewhere for justice. That place is in The Hague.



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 18, 2010

I’m glad I attended the just concluded National Cohesion and Integration Commission workshop sponsored by GTZ and organized by Article 19, an international NGO that specializes in “global campaign for free expression”.

In her opening remarks in the middle of the workshop, Article 19 International Executive Director, Dr. Agnes Callamard warned Kenyans that the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008 may harm media freedom in Kenya. She maintained that the provision that those who disseminate hate speech are equally liable to a term of up to 3 years in jail or a fine of no more than one million shillings could be detrimental to the work of the media.

In her wisdom, “The media cannot be held liable for what others say; otherwise we will not have any media”. In her twisted logic, “The law should not be designed to interfere with media activities which are very paramount……!”

Dr. Callamard thinks that whether to publish hate speech or not can be handled by media guidelines and regulations because media houses have editors who should be allowed to exercise their professional discretion. What she may have not known is that in this part of the world, there is a very thin line between editors and politicians. They behave alike if not work together for different political parties during elections.

This position that was being propagated by Article 19 Chief Executive at a conference in Nairobi in a forum where the NCIC was grappling with how to deal with war mongers of our time got me thinking seriously whether our foreign friends really care about our country. However, before I proceed with my personal view on this thorny issue, let me paraphrase a few reactions from other participants.

First, Dr. Musalendo Kibunjia, the chairman of the NCIC in his opening remarks was very categorical. He reiterated that his Commission would target media houses that continued to promote hate speech whatever the consequences and that already the commission was in the process of gathering the relevant evidence to that effect.

To strengthen this position, Dr. George William Mugwanya, a trained Ugandan lawyer who works in Arusha as Senior Appeals Counsel at the International Tribunal for Rwanda could not have put it any better the following day. He told the meeting that hate speech anywhere in the world cannot be protected in law. He informed the meeting that the United Nations and many other international laws were very clear that hate speech that threatens other personal freedoms and incites cannot be called freedom of speech. Hate speech that leads to criminal activity, crime against humanity, persecution or genocide cannot and should not be condoned in our laws and that Kenya must be brave enough to proscribe hate speech just like other civilized nations have done.

Let me put Madame Agnes Gallamard’s position in perspective. Here is a lady who comes to a country that almost disintegrated hardly two years ago due to the recklessness of politics, religious biases and media sensationalism. This is the same Kenya that made the world stand still as a crisis of unprecedented magnitude threatened to consume it. It is the same country that has its leading war mongers and hate speakers still being investigated by the International Criminal Court with possible prosecution for crimes against humanity in the not too distant future.

Yet when fresh hate speeches appear on the horizon with repeated callousness by known sensational media, we should look the other side because the media is paramount. Is reckless and murderous press freedom more precious than the lives of thousands of Kenyans who were burnt or hacked to death on account of their tribes? Which one is more dangerous; the politician who stands on a platform in Cherangany, Kuria, Bondo or Chuka and utters a hate speech or the broadcast station that makes it a point to repeatedly relay that message nationally without any disclaimer or a rider ten to fifteen times a day?

When such dangerous utterances are repeatedly aired on our local media houses without any caveat, do our media houses have any slightest idea what impact these inflammatory messages may have on our villages?

To go back to the piece of legislation that Dr. Callamard attacked, Article 13 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008 says the following:

“A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or displays any written material; publishes or distributes written material; presents or directs the performance of the public performance of a play; distributes, shows or plays, a recording of visual images; or provides, produces or directs a programme with threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.

“In this section, ‘ethnic hatred’ means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality(including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins”

This law was enacted in Kenya after a tragic episode in Kenya’s history. It is the height of hypocrisy to see a foreign NGO whose view of Kenya cannot go beyond the narrow confines of local activism and workshop environment to criticize a law that was passed to protect voiceless peasant Kenyans from future turmoil they may not even understand.




By Rev. Joe Wright

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of speech and expression.
We have ridiculed the time honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today;
cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"


The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.

In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India , Africa and Korea .

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on
his radio program, "The Rest of the Story," and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep
over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called "one nation under God."

If possible, please pass this prayer on to your friends. "If you
don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

Think about this: If you forward this prayer to everyone on your email list, in less than 30 days it would be heard
by the world. How many people in your address book will not receive this you have the guts to pass it on? I just did!

Monday, June 14, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 14, 2010

There was this riot incident at the University of Nairobi in my days. We had gathered at the CCU Kitchen in the morning soon after breakfast to match to the Great Court to protest against this or that injustice.

On such occasions male students who knew that a GSU confrontation was no laughing matter always advised their girlfriends to be as far away from the campus as possible because the special squad had formed the habit of venting their anger on fragile female students and the infirm when they could not get the real rioters.

On this occasion, a group of Christian Union members, boys and girls decided that they would neither run nor fight the police. They would instead use the Bible as their weapon against the brutality that was staring them in the face!

As they went on their knees near the tunnel on Uhuru Highway to pray to the Almighty, hands raised in His praise, the GSU descended on them with batons and clobbered them to smithereens leaving some of them for dead. We had to return later to take their bartered bodies to Kenyatta National Hospital.

I remembered this incident 30 years ago when I learnt that long after the No rally was over on Sunday evening, one pastor remained behind to pray for whatever reason. And despite the fact that the first blast had caused a casualty among those that remained to linger around and the body brought to the pastor, he the man of God told his followers not to fear but to continue with prayer. However, as he continued to pray, the second blast went off causing more injuries! Had the pastor heeded the first warning and asked people to leave, may be a lot less injuries might have taken place.

Nobody can deny that the Nairobi blast is a shame to this nation that is struggling to heal itself. However, as the police embark on investigations to establish the real cause or who caused it, a few questions must be raised. First, it seemed curious that just a few minutes after the incident; several preachers were on camera blaming it on the Yes team. This indeed was not an unexpected reaction considering that the Yes team is their main protagonist in this battle for the souls and minds of Kenyans.

That notwithstanding the spirited surety with which they condemned their opponents, not to mention the curses they immediately unleashed on them raised more questions than answers. One bishop was caught on camera vowing that the clergy would continue to oppose the constitution even if it meant spilling more blood!

Forgive me for reminding you that I have warned on these pages in the past that Christians got it wrong on day one when they decided to go into political battle with politicians on matters secularly political. We all know that Kenyan politics has a violent history and there is nothing that a politician in Kenya enjoys more than violence when challenged on his tuff. Christians too know this fact. If you doubt me then visit Kamukunji, Kasarani, Westlands or even South Mugirango constituencies during election seasons. They are glaring examples of real violence in our politics. Therefore this Uhuru Park incident should be seen in that light. It is a taste of things to come in the next six weeks or even the coming two years if war mongers and current hate speakers are not stopped in their tracks.

However, although Kenyan politics may be violent, we can state with no fear of contradiction that since 1963, no bombs have exploded at a political rally even when we had some of the most explosive and volatile elections in 1992, 2002, 2007 and the referendum of 2005. The Uhuru Park incident is therefore strange and uncharacteristic of Kenyans. We have always used stones, sticks, whips, machetes and arrows in political battles. We have never used guns, bombs or grenades. Those are the specialties of Somalis in Mogadishu, Iraqis, Indians, Pakistanis, Afghanistans and Palestinians

However, just days before JM Kariuki was brutally murdered by anti reformers in 1975, a series of bombs exploded killing several people at the OTC Bus Stage in downtown Nairobi. The anti- reformers blamed it on him as they prepared to eliminate him. Could the present day anti-reformers in this campaign be behind the Uhuru Park bomb blasts? Could it be the same people that inserted “National Security” in the draft document that was readily blamed on the Yes team that decided to cause mayhem behind the scenes at Uhuru Park? What about the now famous “watermelon” campaigners in the Yes camp or what my local newspaper vendor calls “ Yes by day and NO by night” turn coats in the Yes team?

In other words for us to get to the bottom of this ugly incident, we have to cast our nets beyond the mere rhetoric from the Yes and No teams. There is an enemy from with that does not care if Kenya burns as long as he or she stands to benefit. He could be a clergy, a politician or simply a gunman for hire.

In today’s contest between the Reds and the Greens over the draft constitution, the Greens have been leading in the polls ever since. Why then would they throw a bomb so late in the evening after the NO rally is virtually over? What would they gain from it politically?

Another thing, having a rally at Uhuru Park even if you dub it a Christian rally is never the same thing as having a service at Valley Road PAG Church where ushers look at faithful in the face before they are ushered in. Uhuru Park is a public recreation center that is free for all manner of people and there is no guarantee that all those that came there on Sunday were Christians. Chances are that all manner of people came there for different reasons either as pickpockets, muggers, rapists and murderers not to mention, Al Shababs, Al Kaidas, mungikis and even Christian fundamentalists; all pursuing their own interests in the new constitution. Therefore extending an uncalled for prayer well beyond sunset and against the law was a good opportunity for such darkness operators to strike. And they struck.

On the other hand, when you as a man of God calls a public rally to attack foreign governments even if they are the punch bag Americans, Muslims and political factions , chances of raising political temperatures from any quota are very high, only that you may never know where or when you step on live wire.

Therefore as we await police investigations, let us first investigate politicians that have threatened Kikuyus to quit Rift Valley, those that have declared Kitale to be in Mt. Elgon and those clergy that have cursed their imaginary enemies in the Yes camp. More urgently, the police must question a church man caught on tape promising bloodbath over the constitution. The law is the law whether we are priests or not.



Agreement on Crime of Aggression May Expand Court’s Portfolio but Raises Challenges for the Future

(Kampala, June 11, 2010) – Today’s agreement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) review conference gives the ICC at least seven years before it would have authority to prosecute the crime of waging aggressive war, Human Rights Watch said. The review conference closed today following two weeks of debate and discussion in Kampala.

After an intense week of negotiation involving scores of governments, the deal would allow the court, in limited circumstances, to assert authority over those believed to be responsible for waging aggressive war. But it depends on further agreement between ICC member countries before it takes effect.

Under today’s agreement, states have the option to take a decision after 2017 to agree whether the court may act on the crime of aggression where either the United Nations Security Council refers a matter to the ICC or the alleged aggressor and victim states are parties to the ICC treaty and have not opted out of the ICC’s reach over this offense.

“The agreement may extend the court’s role to cover the crime of waging aggressive war in the future,” said Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch. “This could pose challenges to the ICC’s effectiveness by creating expectations that today’s compromise won’t meet.”

Human Rights Watch had long opposed exclusive control of any crime within the court’s jurisdiction by external bodies like the UN Security Council – a proposal that had featured in negotiations over the crime of aggression – because it would undermine the ICC’s judicial independence. Human Rights Watch had also expressed concerns that an agreement making the crime of aggression operational could link the ICC to highly politicized disputes between states, posing a danger to perceptions of the court’s role as an impartial judicial arbiter of international criminal law.

“The agreement may avoid exclusive UN Security Council control over the court’s authority when it comes to the crime of aggression,” said Dicker. “This required states parties to resist the insistence of permanent members of the Security Council that they exercise control at the expense of the court’s independence.”

The compromise today would create more limited authority for the court than with regard to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the other crimes named in the Rome Statute. The court will have no authority to prosecute the crime of aggression when committed by individuals from a state that is not party to the treaty unless the Security Council refers the matter to the ICC.

“With this agreement, the court, its Assembly of States Parties, and individual state members need to get to work explaining what this decision means and what it does not,” Dicker said. “The court’s mission and mandate are not well understood, and it will require real effort to convey the reach and the constraints of this crime if activated after 2017.”

The review conference opened on May 31, 2010, with a general debate. High-level representatives of member states made statements of support for the ICC and adopted a declaration affirming commitment to the court’s mandate.

In two days of “stocktaking sessions” the conference addressed crucial challenges confronting the ICC in its day-to-day work. Debate addressed improving countries’ cooperation with the ICC. The court relies on governments to carry out arrests and assist its investigations and prosecutions.

“Last week’s stocktaking discussion was a boost for the court,” Dicker said. “Nearly 40 states made specific pledges to assist the ICC, and we look forward to seeing those translated into practice.”

Discussions also addressed ways to put national courts in a better position to hold perpetrators to account in fair trials. Many counties made commitments at the conference to helping one another in the national prosecution of ICC crimes. Human Rights Watch said this holds out real potential for narrowing gaps in accountability for the worst crimes.

The conference’s location in Kampala offered a unique opportunity to forge stronger links between the ICC and those affected by serious crimes in Africa, Human Rights Watch said. Many delegates visited the ICC’s offices in Kampala and eastern Congo.

Holding the review conference in Uganda brought the court’s member states closer to its work,” Dicker said. “The presence of African civil society at the conference also helped convey its concerns to court officials and government representatives.”

The ICC is the world’s first permanent court mandated to bring to justice perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. The ICC treaty, known as the Rome Statute, entered into force in 2002, just four years after 120 states adopted the treaty during the Rome Conference.

The court’s jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity may be triggered in one of three ways. States parties may refer a situation – a specific set of events – to the ICC prosecutor; the UN Security Council may refer a situation to the prosecutor; or the ICC prosecutor may seek on his own motion authorization by a pre-trial chamber of ICC judges to open an investigation.

The ICC prosecutor has opened investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Uganda, the Darfur region of Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Kenya. Based on those investigations, 13 arrest warrants and one summons to appear have been issued. The prosecutor is also looking at a number of other situations in countries around the world. These include Colombia, Georgia, Cote d’Ivoire, Afghanistan, and Guinea. The Palestinian National Authority has also petitioned the ICC prosecutor to accept jurisdiction over crimes committed in Gaza.

An Assembly of States Parties (ASP) was created by the Rome Statute to provide management oversight of administration of the court. It consists of representatives of each state member and is required to meet at least once a year, but can meet more often as required.

The Rome Statute mandates that seven years after the treaty enters into force, the UN secretary-general is to convene a review conference to consider any amendments to the treaty. At its seventh assembly session, in 2008, ICC members agreed to hold this conference in Kampala.

The crime of aggression was included in the Rome Statute, but without a definition or the conditions under which the court could exercise jurisdiction over the crime. A special working group of the assembly was formed in 2003 to prepare proposals for amendments that, if adopted, would make the crime operational.

In addition to considering proposed amendments such as on the crime of aggression, the agenda of the review conference included a general debate, with statements by high-level representatives of ICC member states. It also included two days of debate and discussion as part of a “stock-taking” exercise. At their eighth assembly session, ICC members decided on four topics for stock-taking: cooperation; complementarity, or strengthening national courts to try Rome Statute crimes; the impact of the Rome Statute system on victims and affected communities; and the relationship between peace and justice.