Friday, August 16, 2013

WHEN THE HEARTBEAT OF EASTERN AFRICA WAS A BLAZE

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By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
August 14, 2013

For decades, Nairobi has gained the reputation as the business hub of East Africa. For years we have taken it for granted that whatever happens in Nairobi and Kenya for that matter is likely to be felt in the entire region. The reality is Nairobi is more than a hub to the people of East Africa. It is indeed the heart beat of the region that pumps blood into the commercial life of Eastern Africa. Anything that makes this heart skip a beat has serious consequences for the normal life of the region.

Compared to London, New York, Amsterdam or even Paris, Nairobi international airport is a dwarf among international air travel giants. However, back home here in Africa, the amount of traffic and air travel connectivity can only compare with South Africa’s Oliver Tambo International Airport.

In our region, Nairobi International Airport serves airlines from Entebbe, Kigali, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro Airport, Addis Ababa, Mogadishu, Khartoum, Juba and Kinshasa among others. JKIA is the regional operators’ stepping stone to the rest of the world. It was the reason when rebel soldiers closed the airport in 1982; the repercussions were felt far and wide. It was the same reason when some hooligans uprooted a few railway lines in Kibera in 2008 at the height of the conflict in Kenya; the repercussions were felt as far as Kampala, Kigali and Kinshasa not to mention northern Tanzania.

Let us look at the consequences of the fire that gutted the arrival terminal of JKIA.
A minor fire that started somewhere between Immigration Department at the Arrival Terminal went out of control. In a matter of minutes the small fire turned into a blaze that forced the authorities at Kenya Airports Authority to shut down the entire airport. In a matter of minutes no planes were allowed to land or take off. Incoming flights were diverted to Mombasa, Entebbe, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro airports. It was a chaotic scene not just in Nairobi but in all the other airports to which the flights were diverted.

This latest fire disaster at JKIA reminded me of an incident in which I was involved way back in 1987.

It was one of those mornings that I took a local flight from Nairobi to Kisumu. At that time the only airline that operated from Nairobi to Kisumu was a Kenya Airways Fokker27.

As we approached the Kisumu Airport flying over Lake Victoria, we realized that the plane was not descending. We flew over the tiny airport twice when the pilot announced that the wheels had jammed making it difficult for him to land in Kisumu. He informed us that our only choice was to fly back to Nairobi however; he faced another problem- he was running out of fuel!

His reason for flying back to JKIA was because Kisumu had no Emergency Landing facilities like fire fighters, doctors, nurses, medical equipment and ambulances.

Half way through our flight to JKIA, the pilot chose to prepare us for emergency landing explaining that when the plane crash lands, it nose dives making it impossible for front seat passengers to survive. We were therefore ordered to vacate our front seats and stand at the back for those who had no seats.
To say that we were a frightened lot is an understatement. I drank all the whiskies I could lay my hands on because I knew that this was it. We were either going crash in mountains of Rift Valley due to fuel shortage or if we made it to JKIA, the hard concrete on the runway was waiting for us.

When we got to JKIA, the first thing I saw was a sea of ambulances, white coated medical personnel, countless fire fighting trucks with  fire men at the ready. Yes, there was maximum emergency preparedness for a Fokker 27. But again, that level of seriousness also told us that we were in real danger of dying that morning.

Our good pilot tried to land twice and twice he failed. I think he was praying for a miracle to happen so that he could unlock the wheels. On the third attempt, his prayers were answered and the wheels unlocked! We clapped, cheered and cried with joy at the same time.

If 26 years ago, there was that level of preparedness at JKIA what has happened to the JKIA management nearly three decades later? If we could have competent emergency services those many years ago, what has happened in between? How could a small fire which could have been put out by a handheld fire extinguisher be allowed to consume the entire arrival terminal, Immigration and Customs Departments? What happened to regular Emergency Drills were used to in years gone by?

If Kenya Airways alone lost US $ 4 million in those three days of chaos, how many losses were incurred by airlines from Entebbe, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Kigali, Addis Ababa, Amsterdam and London that had to deal with stranded passengers in their airports?

What of business premises that and hoteliers operated their outfits at the arrival terminal? Who will compensate them for their losses? What if their insurers decline their claims on suspicion that it was arson?
The heartbeat of East Africa needs better than this!


MOST GOVERNORS HAVE DEVOLVED IMPUNITY TO THE COUNTIES

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By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
August 14, 2013

The sorry tale of governors we recently elected to devolve services to our villages is a sad one. Kenyans are beginning to question the wisdom of having devolved the government so soon after the elections. Perhaps this is God’s way of punishing an electorate that never learns from its past mistakes.

The root cause of the early rot we are seeing in our counties lies in the fact that at all levels of government; there was no credible election right from the party primaries. Election malpractices by all parties were the order of the day. Party owners chose to plant their cronies in positions of power at the expense of democracy. They sacrificed democracy at the altar of mediocrity. And now, through the governors, CMAs and MPs we are reaping the fruits of that mediocrity.

However, before we even condemn governors, let us turn our attention to that august house that calls itself the National Assembly.

When it opened its doors to the first business of the day, we saw greed in its raw form. And for the first time we saw a different side of politicians. They are only divided in the quest for state power but united in greed. During the debate on their salaries, it was difficult to distinguish between Jubilee and Cord MPs. In fact Cord MPs were more militant in their support for the Leader of Majority than the Jubilee legislators. Ripping the treasury was a life and death assignment for some of them especially the new MPs.

When Madam Serem succumbed to the demands of MPs with assistance from William Ruto, the floodgates were open. Suddenly teachers, doctors, County Assembly Representations and university lecturers joined in the band wagon. MPs had proved to them that there was cash to be dished out. As the saying goes, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. To put it better, every action is bound to have a ripple effect which can either be positive or negative.

When William Ruto went to arm twist Sarah Serem to give the MPs their demands, one hopes he anticipated the consequences.

The governors’ case is a unique tragic realization for Kenyans. When Kenyans fought tooth and nail to have a constitution with devolved governments, they were tired of biased distribution of national resources. They were tired of an all powerful presidency. They were tired of greedy MPs who only minded their personal aggrandizement. They thought the devolved governments would take them to Canaan. They were wrong all the way. Now the reality is dawning on some counties that they might have jumped from the frying pan to the fire itself.

In Kenya, everything seems to be going wrong with the devolution. If mandarins of the National government are not busy sabotaging the process, the chairman of the Transitional Authority seems visibly lost most of the time. In fact by merely looking at the TA Chairman, one wonders where he was fished from. He doesn’t inspire any confidence among the people he is supposed to assist through the transition.

In the run up to the March 4 elections, there were so many discussions about the type of people that counties should elect as governors. The advice was to elect people with business background in the private sector, those that had experience in handling enterprises. It was the reason Evans Kidero became attractive to the people of Nairobi and Cyprian Awiti was thought to be a suitable candidate for Homa Bay.

However, as horse trading reached its peak among political parties, suspected drug lords, corrupt civil servants and disgraced officials in their former lives emerged from the wood works and presented themselves to party bosses as the right and suitable candidates. These mandarins did not come to party leaders empty handed. They masqueraded as the real party supporters with the requisite resources to help party leaders win elections.

In the end we ended up with some former permanent secretaries and ambassadors who had embezzled public funds for decades in the Central government. And when they saw the billions allocated from the treasury to their counties their adrenalin shot up many times over.

They hurriedly put together budgets that had nothing to do with devolved services but rather for their personal grandeur.

 Suddenly the talk of the town was the governor’s palatial home, grand office block, and top of the range fuel guzzlers for top officers, millions of shillings in allowances and pornography campaigns for the governor. Millions more were set aside for several trips abroad and retreats to the Coast for the governor and his cabinet and of course a retinue of handlers. Suddenly some governors had moved in to hotels with their families for all sorts of reason. While some moved in as they waited for their palatial homes to be built or renovated, others moved it to attend petition cases against them.

The era of the gravy train was indeed with us in our counties. It would be awhile before Kenyans rose up against this blatant greed that has been devolved to our counties.


PUNISHING SO-CALLED OPPOSITION ZONES

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P. Anyang' Nyong'o

I was dismayed recently when I heard one Presidential advisor by the name Kuttuny haranguing his listeners somewhere in South Nyanza that they must stop their leaders from criticising the Jubilee government "if you want the government to give you development." Young as he is in age Kuttuny has his mental make up stuck in the Nyayo era when such speeches were on the menu of KANU political sycophants mounting any political platform across the Kenyan republic. At that point in time government services were dispensed to the people as a favour; they rarely received it as a right they deserved by dint of being Kenyan citizens and tax payers.

Times have, of course, changed with the new constitution which provides Kenyans with both individual and people's rights and puts sovereignty and power in the hands of the people. When citizens exercise their constitutional rights and choose a government, or when they have a government they have not chosen exercise political power over them, they still retain their right to be served by the government notwithstanding their political persuasion. After all, Kenyans pay taxes to the government even when they disapprove of the way the government is run. It is therefore unconstitutional for Kuttuny to intimidate any Kenyan anywhere in this republic that government can only provide services on condition that a Kenyan citizen "works with the government".

Paying VAT is a good enough sign that a Kenyan works with and for the government no matter which individual is the President at any actual time. Paying income tax is equally a strong expression of citizenship responsibility. In the final analysis voting itself shows a citizen has the passion to determine what type of government comes to power in Kenya. Kuttuny has the right to question the voting preference of any citizen. But he is definitely out of order to imagine that his own preference is good enough to deny a citizen who disagrees with him government services.

It is often said that democracy is where the majority have their way while the minority have their say. This is only true as long as we are looking strictly at the Anglo- Saxon version of liberal parliamentary democracy restricted to "first past the goal post" principle. Elsewhere democracy, as a government "of the people, by the people and for the people", has evolved tremendously to go beyond individual choices to people's choices as well. Hence the emphasis on people representation, proportional representation and devolution of power.

Kenya is just beginning to travel this direction in the new constitution. A little bit of proportional representation has been tried through representation of youth, women and people with disability. These people live everywhere in Kenya and come from diverse political persuasions. They need not come from the same school of thought so that their interests are reflected in the way government services are delivered.

Nonetheless our version of proportional representation is still what I call "segmental proportionalism". It can very easily amount to "tokenism" when the numbers of those represented through this process do not make much of a difference.

We need to go further and let the people be represented both in the legislature and the executive according to their political preferences as well as their demographic size. When this is done together with the devolution of political power, then there will never arise a situation where any Kuttuny can think that some part of Kenya is not represented in government. All Kenyans will be in government in proportion to their demographic size as well as their political preference.

The question now to be asked is whether the presidential system of government as we know it today can be accommodated in this particular democratic government we are talking about. The answer, unfortunately, is no. What we have done in this constitution is to retain the presidentialism of the old constitution within the context of a devolved system of government and segmental proportionalism and we are finding out that the mongrel is not moving well. It wont move well. It cant move well. The solution, however, is not to throw the baby away with the bath water but to pick up the baby, put it in a new bath tab and get some clean warm water to bathe it in.

In the run up to the making of the current constitution some of us rooted strongly for a parliamentary system of government with proportional representation as well as devolution. But we lost out. Even the amendments we proposed in parliament could not be debated due to the limited time within which Parliament had to pass the constitution. But all is not lost.

It is in this context that we must soberly look at our constitution, eschew any grand standing and state very clearly that we want to go beyond where we have reached so far and create a system of government where all Kenyans feel at home. At the moment this is obviously not the case, however much we may try to pretend that all is well and we should simply "move on." indeed, looking at the problems we face squarely and frankly is part of moving in; it is a holistic moving on and not a partisan moving on.

Friday, August 9, 2013

IS JUBILEE REGIME ITCHING TO TAKE KENYA BACK TO THE 1960s?

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By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
July 29, 2013

The   year is 1963. Kenya becomes independent from British rule under the Lancaster Constitution. A year later, sections of the Lancaster constitution are amended to allow for the dissolution of the opposition party.

Following the dissolution of KADU, Kenyatta makes another tactical move to dissolve the many centres of power that the Lancaster Constitution had created to safeguard the interests of the regions and minority tribes. This move sees the death of the Senate and Regional Assemblies. And with KADU having died earlier, the supremacy of the Executive begins to be felt all over the country. Now it is possible for the Leader of Government Business and the Attorney General to move any bill in parliament with a certain level of confidence.

With the coming into the cabinet of former KADU leaders, Ronald Ngala and Daniel arap Moi, cracks begin to emerge in KANU. Factions are formed along leading lights in KANU. There are pro Odinga and pro Kenyatta factions. Kenyatta however gets the backing of Tom Mboya, the KANU Secretary General for a good reason. Mboya wants to succeed Kenyatta when the time comes, never mind that Jaramogi Oginga Odinga is the sitting Vice President and heir apparent to Jomo Kenyatta. Indeed it is clear to all and sundry that Mboya and Odinga are political rivals-never mind that they both come from Nyanza.

As these intrigues, fuelled by international spy agencies, pick momentum, the stage is set for early brutal assassinations

The first giant to fall is Pio Gama Pinto who gets shot dead in Parklands Nairobi. Pinto was known to be Jaramogi Odinga’s chief ideologue and was feared by most operatives in KANU including Jomo Kenyatta.

The death of Pinto, though a Goan devastates not only Jaramogi Odinga but also fellow comrade in the struggle, Joseph Murumbi who is the Foreign Minister at the time.

The same year that Pinto dies, the relations between Jaramogi and Jomo become more strained. To observers in and outside government; it is just a matter of time before battle for supremacy is fought in the public arena.

Then the bubble goes bust on March 13 1966 at the Limuru Conference Centre. And as Karega Munene captures the moment in his Wajibu Series,

The ethnic maneuvers by the troika of Kenyan politics and their lieutenants culminated in the 13 March 1966 KANU national delegates meeting at the Limuru Conference Centre, ostensibly to hold party elections. As it soon emerged, the meeting's agenda was to get rid of the then KANU Vice-President who was also the country's Vice-President, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The key architect of the organizational format, who was used in cutting Oginga Odinga to size at the meeting, was Tom Mboya. By using Mboya in this way, Kenyatta probably intended to blunt charges of tribalism that could easily have been levelled against him (as a Gikuyu leader) at the time. To a casual observer, the political intrigue and battle was simply a Luo affair.”

This move by Kenyatta and Mboya against Jaramogi has predictable consequences. They know that Jaramogi will surely be furious and likely to resign in a huff. And that is what happens. Jaramogi resigns the same day as KANU Vice President and Vice President of the country and a few days later forms the first post independence opposition party- KPU- Kenya Peoples Union. Remember, this happens before any amendment in the Standing Orders of Parliament or the Constitution requiring MPs that opt to join a new party to return to the electorate to seek a fresh mandate.

For this reason, Jaramogi’s KPU causes a common in parliament and panic in the Kenyatta cabinet. Left unchecked, Jaramogi’s new party has the potential to bring down Jomo’s government. For this reason, Mboya is detailed to move a motion in parliament to compel any MP who crosses the floor to resign his seat and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.

Subsequently the Speaker of the National Assembly declares seats of those MPs that had crossed the floor vacant and a by election is set. This is what culminates in the now famous “Little General Election of 1966”.

The aftermath of the 1966 “Little General Elections” is a disaster for Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. It spells the death knell for his political career without him knowing it.

The behavior of KANU, particularly that of Tom Mboya ensures that KPU loses massively in Local Government Councils and Parliament. Just a few days before the elections, Mboya tours the whole country castigating KPU and Odinga’s pesa nane politics. He goes ahead and ropes in the Provincial Administration to vet and disqualify as many of KPU candidates as possible such that most KANU candidates are elected unopposed.

At the end of the day, some of Jaramogi’s most prominent figures in KPU like Bildad Kaggia and Achieng Oneko lose in their constituencies. Odinga ends up with about six KPU MPs, a number that finally becomes ineffective in parliament.

With Jaramogi neutralized, Kenyatta systematically begins to get rid of Luo appointees in government particularly if their appointments were courtesy of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. This political witch hunting goes on until January 29 1969 when Argwings Kodhek, the Foreign Minister dies in a mysterious road accident in Nairobi. Six months later, his fellow cabinet minister, Tom Mboya is also assassinated along Government Road in Nairobi on July 5 1969.

The aftermath of Mboya’s assassination is followed by a fracas in Kisumu involving Jomo Kenyatta where eleven civilians are shot dead, Odinga and all KPU MPs detained and KPU banned. This further worsens the plight of Luos that remained in the Kenyatta regime as more purging takes place.

Is the Uhuru regime likely to read from the same script in dealing with Raila Odinga four decades later?


Thursday, August 8, 2013

MORE ON NATIONAL COHESION

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P. Anyang' Nyong'o

Following my article last Sunday on ethnicity as the elephant in the room in our Kenyan society, one of my readers, Hezron Kimeli Cheruiyot, wondered why we keep on belabouring the examples of Singapore, Malaysia and S. Korea over and over again without doing something concrete about it. As far as Cheruiyot is concerned, "we will never learn anything. It seems we will need policies for everything," he asserts. "My take is this: the day the big tribe relinquishes power to others, we will have achieved the objective outlined in your article. Anything else is hot air and wishful thinking," concluded Cheruiyot.

On reading the same article Alice Nderitu of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) called me to appreciate what she read but also to draw my attention to a major policy document the Commission produced this year entitled "Kenya Ethnic and Race Relations Framework." I went through this document carefully and discovered that it deals with the issues bothering Cheruiyot while going further to propose what needs to be done urgently to promote national cohesion and integration in Kenya. In this regard multiculturalism, ethnic and racial tolerance, ethnic and racial inclusion in all spheres of national life and acceptance of diversity must be the basic principles for promoting national cohesion at the individual and societal levels. But, as Cheruiyot points out, Kenya needs a government committed to implementing the ideals of national cohesion and integration if we are to transit from mere wishes to real change in our lifetime.

By the very nature of our upbringing as former colonial subjects we have been prone to learn and practice bad manners regarding our attitudes to others who are not part of our ethnic community. Precisely because the colonialists integrated us into the colonial political economy differentially as Luhyias, Kikuyus, Luos, Majikendas, Kisiis, Njemps, Ndorobos, Kalenjins and so on, we should not have retained, reproduced and perpetuated this state of affairs way into our post-colonial life. But we did and we continue to, hence the pent up resentments that frequently burst into inter-ethnic conflicts in our society from time to time.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) therefore proposes that we must make a break with our colonial past and our post-colonial perpetuation of the inequalities, prejudices and iniquities from this past by embracing its "Framework for ethnic and race relations in Kenya." It observes from the start that the Constitution that we promulgated on August 27, 2010, provides us with a tremendous opportunity to do this since it provides a much more enlightened and progressive framework for creating a more inclusive, tolerant and multicultural nation. What are the steps to be taken in doing this?

First, the Commission itself must live up to its stated objective of "facilitating and promoting equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful coexistence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities in Kenya, and advising the government on all aspects thereof." But since it was established almost five years ago, one wonders whether the government has taken any advice from the Commission seriously. The investigations that have been done into the various ministries and parastatals to find out the extent to which they promote or discourage national cohesion in their employment practices do not seem to have mounted to much. Should we therefore accept Cheruiyot's pessimism and "move on" or should we keep on hammering the message home until one day it will sink into someone's ear with enough political clout to act and change things?

Second, the NCIC is of the opinion that building a positive and integrative legal framework over time is important in laying the foundation on which change will be built to promote national cohesion and integration. In this regard the constitution is a major milestone in the march forward. It is reinforced by many other international laws and conventions which we have domesticated and which no doubt compel our government and people to accept certain universal values governing individual and peoples rights and behaviour as part of the global community of civilised nations.

Thus any form of ethnic, racial, gender, age or religious discrimination should not find a place in social, economic and political life in Kenya today. Education, for example, should be accessible to all Kenyans and should aim at giving every individual the opportunity for self improvement and development. But given the fact that in the past certain communities in certain spheres of life have enjoyed undue advantage over others due to their proximity to state power, adjustments need to be consciously undertaken to eliminate the gaps created by historically conditioned discrimination adversely affecting certain communities.

Third, in order to eliminate such gaps created through our past history, facts need to be dispassionately ventilated and objectively dealt with through well knit public policies and well developed implementation strategies. Kenyans should not live in denial but should be innovative and proactive.

In summary, all sectors of the Kenyan society need to develop and implement ethnic and race relations policies in line with this Framework established by the Commission. Every year, all institutions concerned will publish reports on their own experiences and achievements that the Commission can audit before they are tabled in Parliament or in County Assemblies as the case may be. Procedures to be followed will be worked out by the Commission and approved by Parliament.

Friday, August 2, 2013

WHO WE ARE AND WHAT KENYA IS

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By P. Anyang' Nyong'o


August first, a debate erupted in the Senate regarding ethnic representation in the government. Making a contribution to a motion I had moved on reforms in the police service and proposals to amend the Police Service Commission Act as well as the Police Service Act, Senator Bony Khalwale alleged that three ethnic groups received more than their fair share in the composition of the current government in the Cabinet and at the level of principal secretaries. He further went on to say that the same is true with the Police Service. Asked to substantiate he produced a report from the National Cohesion and Integration Commission showing that two communities dominate the police service.

Without going into the details regarding the discussions that ensued in the Senate, their merits and demerits, it was the proposal advanced by Sen. Kiraitu Murungi that recognised the gravity of the issue at hand and offered a practical and concrete solution that can help Kenya get out of the dangers of the politics of ethnic domination that has been our bane since independence. Senator Murungi, subsequently supported by Senators Chris Obure and Moses Wetang'ula, gave the example of Singapore-- and Malaysia--where ethnic diversity has been creatively used to enhance national integration and nationhood.

Malaysia became independent in 1965. It had more or less the same level of development as Kenya. In a society that comprised diverse ethnic communities: Malays being 60% of the population, Chinese 25%, Indians 10% and the rest 5%, the Malaysian elites decided to strike what they called "the bargain" in constituting their government and initiating national development. The idea behind "the bargain" was that each community would get their fair share of the "national cake" in proportion to their numbers so as to promote national integration and nationhood.

In 1969, however, there was a terrible outbreak of urban violence in Kuala Lumpur, the national capital, that unleashed vicious ethnic conflict among the Malaysian people. For two years parliament was suspended while the ruling class searched for a long lasting national solution. In the end a policy was adopted to increase more fairness and equity in development, job creation, use of national and ethnic symbols and so on. in other words, the ethnic problem was not pushed under the rug; instead it was exposed for what it was, confronted, a formula found for dealing with it and the formula implemented transparently.

In the 1990s a campaign called "Bangsa Malaysia" was launched: this was to drum up ideological and cultural support for Malaysian national integration and nationhood. With a population of 23 million people and a dynamic economy, Maysia hopes to have 80 million people by the year 2100. Even then it will have laid a firm foundation for becoming a prosperous society since the economic development seems to be consciously integrated with cultural integration and coexistence.

That, of course, is not to say that everything is rosy in Malaysia. Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, the legendary Prime Minister that was behind the great Malaysian achievements since independence, had a tinge of authoritarianism in his politics. But it was a brand of authoritarianism that shunned crony ethnic capitalism while creating a national developmental and democratic state. It is no wonder therefore that Malaysia has gone much further than Kenya in terms of socio-economic development since independence.

But it is never too late to learn. In fact were we a people who are prepared to learn positive lessons from our history we should have learnt a thing or two from 2003 and 2008. But unfortunately we did not.

Following the elections of December 2002, Kenya produced a government that was perhaps the most legitimate and most representative since the first government of 1963. Kenyans were immediately rated the happiest people on earth and we embarked on an economic recovery strategy that was widely embraced and accepted by Kenyans, hence its resounding success within a very short time. We did not, however, seize that opportunity to discuss a policy to deal with our ethnic diversity nor did we pay close attention to national integration as part and parcel of dismantling the presidential authoritarian regime.

Soon the fantastic NARC government initiatives started to be drowned in ethnic turf wars as elites sought to use their proximity to the Presidency to enhance politics of exclusion rather than inclusion. It was the primacy given to exclusion politics that messed up the referendum of October 2005, leading inevitably to the collapse of the NARC government and the end of "the honeymoon with happiness". Kenyans immediately became the most ethnically divided nation on earth.

It was under that atmosphere of ethnic tension and the tension between inclusion/exclusion politics that we went to the elections of December 2007. The results and the violence that ensued should have radically changed our perception on how we run our politics but they did not. The Grand Coalition Government provided yet another window of opportunity for us to use that experience for future political engineering but we have not done so notwithstanding the useful framework provided by the present constitution. Although the Grand Coalition Government was big and unwieldy it provided the widest representation of ethnic diversity in our republic. It was perhaps the most inclusive government without necessarily being more effective than the NARC government of 2003-2005. The lessons we should have learnt from it was how to use that experience to do another Malaysia-like political project in Kenya.

But Sen. Kiraitu Murungi now seems to have hit the nail on the head and woken us up from our stupid slumber. Rather than wait to have exclusive elections from one year to the other, forming semi-inclusive governments from one year to the other, fighting each other from one election to the other, let us take the bull by the horn and answer this question: how do we create a government, a cabinet, a police service, an army, an education system: in short a nation where ALL Kenyans feel at home? How do we deal with the elephant in the room: our growing ethnic alienation from each other? How do we learn a thing or two from Singapore, Malaysia and perhaps Belgium?