Tuesday, November 30, 2010



By WILLIAM OCHIENGPosted Monday, November 29 2010 at 19:43

On November 20, a Mr Paul Mungai of Kamangu Village in Kikuyu arrived home early, checked whether his entire family was home, locked his house, and murdered his wife Sera Wambui and two sons.

The only survivor of the carnage was his two-year-old son Joshua Mbugua, who escaped through a hole in the earthen wall. After killing the three, Mungai committed suicide by hanging himself with a rope inside the house.

The killings left a sombre mood in Kamangu, with every one wondering about the nature and cause of the gruesome treachery. If Mungai had a bone to pick with his wife, why did he include the young and innocent children in the outrage and how will the lucky Joshua Mbugua cope with life?

But the Kamangu tragedy is just one of many similar tragedies happening all over Kenya, some going completely unnoticed.

Almost every two weeks, we hear of such murders in Turkana, Nyeri, Nyalenda, Migori, Ikolomani, Ogembo — name it. In fact, Kenyans no longer pay attention to them, but these murders are mind-boggling and surreal.

Are we off the tether? Has the nation gone mad? Is the end of the world around the corner? What explanations can we get from our churches?

Is it the economy? Is it general alcoholism? Is it the new Constitution? Are we over-crowded? Oh, man, come on. What is it? Increasingly, most people cannot bear the burden of marriage.

Wherever men or women gather together, they mostly discuss the pains of marriage. Most can no longer sustain individualised existence with a partner away from the traditional ethnic support and supervision.

More importantly, the gender doctrine of equality is tearing our souls apart. Women today are as cock-eyed as alligators; and most men are psychologically impotent.

While in folklore, man was the bread-winner, increasingly, women are taking over that role. And even in situations where they have not yet taken over, today many women can look after themselves.

According to Jomo Kenyatta, once upon a time, women were the rulers of Kikuyuland. They grew strong, free-willed, prosperous, and extremely dictatorial. Men, under them, got fidgety, insecure, and worried.

One day, a wise old man called all the men to a secret meeting, asking them to cheat their wives that they were going to a gala hunting. There, in the bush, the old man told the gathered men to go back and make sure that every woman was made pregnant, and that when the women got tired with child “you must carry out a clean coup d’etat.” That is when and how power and control reverted to men.

In the West, to avoid the rising power of womanhood, some men have taken to sexually befriending, and even marrying, one another.

But perhaps the cleanest way to escape the rising complexes of marriage is to disband the institution altogether. If children are what ties us in marriage, neater social and state arrangements can be made to enable men and women to share and bring up children, as they stay apart.

In countries like Brazil and the United States, the single parenthood concept is getting accepted and preferred.

The problems of marriage have been with us for centuries. Even our Stone Age ancestors had marital problems, although I understand from anthropologists that the Stone Agers did not attach much significance to the institution of marriage.

The problem with Kenyans is that they want to run their marriage the way their ancestors did, without taking into account the changed economic and social circumstances.

In marriage, one has to forego many little liberties — including those which our new Constitution calls human rights. You cannot walk on your head in your house without somebody sneering.

You cannot sleep under your bed without somebody asking why. You cannot snore as you like without disgusting someone. Yes, you cannot roast a lizard in your own pan without causing a rebellion.

Marriage looks to me the most peculiar, irrational, selfish and restrictive institution man ever invented. I only hope future Kenyan generations will have the moral courage to abolish it. For I am sure the human race can continue without it.

We have more insects in the world than we have human beings. Insects do not marry.

Prof Ochieng’ teaches history at Maseno University.

Add a comment (3 comments so far)

  1. Submitted by wavidani
    Posted November 30, 2010 05:18 PM

    Of your rocker?Marriage is optional.If you made a mistake, divorce is there.Marriage is what holds society together and hence the country.More should be done to promote it, like tax credits to married couples.Are you now openly promoting Homosexuality?Hope your wife read this, if you have one!

  2. Submitted by The_Reformer
    Posted November 30, 2010 03:42 PM

    I disagree. Marriage is not an institution.Also the idea that single parenting is good is crazy.Do you know what this has done to say UK? It has turned into what is now called 'broken Britain'Kids raised like this have no stability and are more likely to commit crimes.Just because some people have killed their wives does not mean marriage is bad.Lastly we are all products of marriage!!Two men/women cannot reproduce.Good day.

  3. Submitted by Lilyen
    Posted November 30, 2010 04:08 AM

    May I ask, good professor, are you married? And, your parents, were they married? We have road accidents every day; shall we do away with driving? Our children and youths are growing fat – yes, obesity; shall we abolish food? Oh, the air is so polluted nowadays; should we stop breathing? Secondary schools are churning ‘failures’ who cannot make it to university; shall we abolish secondary education? Spouses have been butchering their families, emotionally, since time immemorial. Marriage is here to stay. It is a matter of choice.



Tuesday, November 23 02:25 pm

By Barry Malone
Egypt could not win a war with Ethiopia over the River Nile and is also supporting rebel groups in an attempt to destabilise the Horn of Africa nation, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in an interview.

Egypt, Ethiopia and seven other countries through which the river passes have been locked in more than a decade of contentious talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929.

Under the original pact Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic metres a year, the lion's share of the Nile's total flow of around 84 billion cubic metres, despite the fact some 85 percent of the water originates in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed a new deal to share the waters in May, provoking Egypt to call it a "national security" issue.
Meles said he was not happy with the rhetoric coming from the Egyptians but dismissed the claims of some analysts that war could eventually erupt.
"I am not worried that the Egyptians will suddenly invade Ethiopia," Meles told Reuters in an interview. "Nobody who has tried that has lived to tell the story. I don't think the Egyptians will be any different and I think they know that."
The five signatories of the new deal have given the other Nile Basin countries one year to join the pact before putting it into action. Sudan has backed Egypt while Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi have so far refused to sign.
"The Egyptians have yet to make up their minds as to whether they want to live in the 21st or the 19th century," Meles told Reuters in an interview, referring to the fact the original treaty was negotiated by colonial administrators.
"So the process appears to be stuck."
Stretching more than 6,600 km (4,100 miles) from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, the Nile is a vital water and energy source for the nine countries through which it flows.
Egypt, almost totally dependent on the Nile and threatened by climate change, is closely watching hydroelectric dam construction in the upstream countries.
Ethiopia has built five huge dams over the last decade and has begun construction on a new $1.4 billion hydropower facility -- the biggest in Africa.
Meles accused Egypt of trying to destabilise his country by supporting several small rebel groups but said it was a tactic that would no longer work.
"If we address the issues around which the rebel groups are mobilised then we can neutralise them and therefore make it impossible for the Egyptians to fish in troubled waters because there won't be any," he said.
"Hopefully that should convince the Egyptians that, as direct conflict will not work, and as the indirect approach is not as effective as it used to be, the only sane option will be civil dialogue."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in July called for a scheduled November meeting of the nine countries to be attended by heads of state. Meles said that would not happen now.
The last meeting of all sides ended in stalemate and angry exchanges between water ministers at a news conference in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"Ask the Egyptians to leave their culture and go and live in the desert because you need to take this water and to add it to other countries? No," Egyptian Water Minister Mohamed Nasreddin Allam told Reuters at that meeting.
(Editing by Giles Elgood)
Egypt says "amazed" by Ethiopia's Nile remarks

Tuesday, November 23 07:26 pm

By Amena Bakr and Dina Zayed
Egypt said it was "amazed" by Ethiopia's suggestion on Tuesday that Cairo might turn to military action in a row over the Nile waters, saying it did not want confrontation and was not backing rebels there.

Egypt, Ethiopia and seven other countries through which the river passes have been locked in more than a decade of contentious talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told Reuters on Tuesday that Egypt could not win a war with Ethiopia over the River Nile and that Cairo was supporting rebel groups in an attempt to destabilise the Horn of Africa nation.
"I'm amazed ... by the language that was used. We are not seeking war and there will not be war," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told Reuters during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
His ministry said in a statement issued in Cairo: "The charges that Egypt .. is exploiting rebel groups against the ruling regime in Ethiopia are completely devoid of truth."
Egypt, almost totally dependent on the Nile and threatened by climate change, says the Nile waters feed a farm sector accounting for a third of all jobs. Cairo is wary of dam construction in upstream countries that could affect flows.
Ethiopia has built five huge dams on the Nile in the last decade and has begun work on a $1.4 billion (887.8 million pounds) hydropower facility.
Under the original pact Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic metres of water a year, the lion's share of the Nile's total flow of around 84 billion cubic metres, despite the fact that some 85 percent of the water originates in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed a new deal to share the waters in May.
In the statement that was e-mailed to Reuters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said it was "regrettable" that Ethiopia and other states had sought a new agreement.
"Egypt is firmly behind its legal and political positions on the issue of the Nile water," Zaki said, adding that Egypt had pursued dialogue and cooperation on the use of the Nile's water.
The five signatories of the new deal have given the other Nile Basin countries one year to join the pact before putting it into action. Sudan has backed Egypt while Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi have so far refused to sign.
The Egyptian spokesman added "We understand the frustrations of the Ethiopian party over the difficulties facing the Nile Basin agreement and initiative."
Egyptian Water Minister Mohamed Nasreddin Allam held talks in Cairo on Tuesday with Burundi officials on irrigation and other cooperation, his ministry said in a statement.
The Arab world's most populous nation fears population growth may outstrip water resources as early as 2017.
(Editing by Tim Pearce)



By Unknown White American Soldier

"To all of you good people who follow this blog, my good friend, Dr,. Frank Okuthe sent me this article. I found it prudent to share it with you. I hope you find it as interesting and intriguing as I found it- Editor, Africa News Online"


The pain of being President while being Black in America!

I don't think anyone was under some real illusion that the election of Barack Obama actually means the end of racism in America . I'm pretty sure that the president-elect knew it better than anyone. After all, he saw it every day, from the moment he announced his candidacy. To some degree, he saw it within his own party during the primaries. And he saw it in all ugliness during the general election. For half of this country, he was "That One". No matter how big and clear his victory was. No matter how smart he is. No matter how decent he is. No matter what a true patriot he is. No matter how optimistic and positive his vision for America was. All that didn't matter. Because at the end of the day, he was still black.

I'm quite old. I remember, vaguely, where my parents were on November 22, 1963. I've seen so many presidents. Some were feared, some were hated, some were adored, some popular and some not. But all of them, without exception, were treated with the highest respect deserving the office of the president of the United States .

That is until a black man won the right to occupy this office. It's been 13 months now, and in the eyes of so many, Barack Obama is still 'that one'. He is being disrespected and at the same time being held to the highest standard of any president I've ever seen – and not just by the Republican side! He has to perform three times better than any president in history, and even that may not be enough.

For the media, he is many more times just "Obama" than "President Obama". They create scandals out of nothing issues. It took them at least 6 years to start giving Bush a small part of the shit he deserved. It took them 6 months to begin crap all over Obama because he's yet to fix the huge catastrophe that was left for him.

They use condescending tones when they talk about him, and only mildly less condescending when they talk TO him. With anyone else, CNN wouldn't dare go to commercials every time the president speaks, like they did during that summit on Thursday. They wouldn't dare be counting how many minutes George Bush or Bill Clinton were talking. Chris Mathews wouldn't dare make an issue out of Ronald Regan calling members of congress by their first name, like he is not actually the president. They fully cooperate with the FOX smear machine when it comes to> independent and military expert actually thinks that he's a terrific Commander-in-Chief! Yes he is loved by us in the military! You'll never see them on TV, and virtually no one from the Left, in congress and outside, defend the
president on this matter.

I don't care anymore about the Far-Right either. They're just crazy ignorant Neanderthals. It's the way the beltway and the mainstream treats this president that is shocking. On Thursday, almost every Republican had no trouble interrupting him in the middle of a sentence. They looked like they're going to vomit every time they had to say "Mr. president". They all had this Eric-Cantor-Smirk whenever he spoke. Then they went out and started to spit their stupid talking points, to the delight of the media. Sarah Palin, a woman whose ignorance shows every time she opens her mouth, thinks that he was "arrogant" towards John McCain, and somehow this is an important news. Because you see, "Obama's Arrogance" is the talking point of the day. Just stop and think where we would be today if the McCain/Palin team were in the White house.

Oh, those talking points. He is arrogant (because he knows the facts better than all of them combined). He is an elitist (because he uses big words that they don't understand). He is weak on national security (because he actually thinks about the consequences). He divides the country (well, he did that the day he had the audacity to win the election). Worst of all, he actually thinks that he's the president. He even dared to say so on Thursday. How arrogant of him. You'd think that previous presidents didn't have any ego. Somehow it turned out that the one president who treats even his biggest opponents with the utmost respect – is the arrogant one. I wonder why?

I expected that his winning the Presidency would bring out some ugliness, but it's been far worse than I imagined. The racism coming from the Right is obviously clear and shameless, but there's also some hidden and maybe subconscious and disturbing underline tone behind some of the things that I read here and throughout the Left blogosphere, even before the end of Obama's first year - 'He's weak, he's spineless, he's got no balls, primary him in 2012'. It'll be dishonest to deny that.

The fact is that for millions in white America , Barack Obama is this uppity black man (Not even a "real" black), who received good education only due to affirmative action, and has no right to litter the sacred Oval Office with his skin color. They just can't accept the fact that the president is a black man, who unlike his predecessor, was actually legally elected. But what's really sad is that it's not just the fringe, its deep deep in mainstream America .

Barack Obama's ability to remain above all this slob, to keep his optimism and his strange and mostly unjustified faith in people, while continuing to gracefully deal with an endless shitstorm – is one of the most inspiring displays of human quality I have ever seen. And I can only hope that the Cosmos is on his side because God is, and He never makes a mistake!

Friday, November 26, 2010



A poem by Philo Okonya

There are some people whom the world says
you have got to respect.
They have been there forever,
fighting and working quietly!

Thinking at a level that most people do not.
They mean well.
But they are never where screams are.
They mean well.
They are too busy to get involved in the shouts of a woman from her house.
They mean well.

They are too respectable to cross with the law.
They mean very well.
They are not activists.
They are well- behaved.

They move in another planet and space.
They mean well.
Their depth is too much.
They are fine in the cave still with Plato and Truth.
They mean well. They are as holy as some sacrament.
"Leave that nonsense,"
they often say.
They mean well.

But before you know that they are this way,
you have run up to them with a burning issue.
They have meant well in their silence.
You have got burnt in their presence.
They meant well and not your death.
You got stoned to death.
They meant well.

If you survived it now you know,
they are not there for nothing other
than that they are here.
Not that you might be here or there.
They mean well, all the time.

They are the constant time of a continent.
They are never rising or falling temperature of a nation.
Under ground also they will be meaning well.
If the noise is too much, they will come out and smile.
You wish they were ice cold or deadly fiery.
Christ spits out the ones in the middle.

They mean so well!

Such people were also in the great crowd that stood there
to see Socrates die… to see the Christ crucified.
They meant well.
They trembled when the curtain split into two.
They did not want to hear the wind that followed!

Be well, when you find yourself alone.
A woman can!
He is dynamic,
He remembers it all in totally different words,
"Whatsoever you do, to the least of my sisters,
that you do unto me."

Thursday, November 25, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

November 25, 2010

News reaching Nairobi late last evening indicated that President Jakaya Kikwete had finally appointed his new cabinet almost two weeks since he was sworn in as Tanzania’s President. Without a doubt, one of the highlights of this cabinet appointment was the inclusion of Prof. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka as Minister for Lands, Housing and Settlement,

For those who may not remember Prof. Tibaijuka, she was until recently an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN-HABITAT in Nairobi. Until her resignation in 2010 to run for political office in Tanzania, she was the second highest ranking African woman in the United Nations system.

Looking at Anna Tibaijuka’s life, her debut into politics reminds us of many successful men and women who have made a name internationally and in academia but on entering politics have not found it easy to fit in to the murky world of cut throat competition.

In Kenya, one is reminded of Dr. Josephat Karanja who became Kenya’s first High Commissioner to London and later the first Kenyan to hold the post of Vice Chancellor at the University of Nairobi. However, when he ventured into politics in the late 1980s, his appointment as Moi’s Vice President hardly lasted a year. He was hounded out of office through hired political thugs whose job was to discredit him in public as much as possible to prepare ground for his sacking.

Another colourful Kenyan to have suffered the fate of dirty politics was Prof. Wangari Mathai, the only woman from Africa to have earned the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. Despite being an elected MP in 2004 when she was honored in Oslo in 2004; despite being a world renowned environmentalist, the government of Kenya never saw it fit to elevate her to a full cabinet minister. Instead the government let her serve as an assistant minister in the ministry of environment under a minister who had no clue about the environment.

One of Uganda’s high ranking former United Nations official is Olara Otunnu. When he retired from the United Nations to come back home, he plunged into elective politics with the aim of taking over Uganda’s oldest political party, UPC, as a springboard to the top post in the land.

However, as days have turned into months and months are slowly turning into years, the name of Olara Otunnu is slowly fading away from the Ugandan public. He is slowly realizing that elective local politics is never a bed of roses. There are thorns all over the place.

Yet with his wealth of experience, international recognition and massive international network, one would have expected that irrespective of the election outcome, he is the kind of person that any government in power would consider including in the cabinet. And just to think aloud, what better Foreign Minister would Uganda have than one Olara Otunnu if meritocracy had to have its way?

In discussing meritocracy in political appointments, I am reminded of one Barack Hussen Obama who, after a grueling contest against Joe Biden and Hilary Clinton in the primaries, he still went ahead to appoint one his running mate and the other his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He knew their strengths and thought it useful to have them help him serve his country.

For Kikwete to have appointed Anna Tibaijuka to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Settlement, the President must have thoroughly read the lady’s CV and concluded that she was the right choice for the docket.

With her academic credentials in Agricultural Economics and having handled settlement issues on a global scale for years, that docket was hers for the taking. However, one must admit that that kind of reasoning can only come from Tanzania based on its political history and culture.

There is one better thing that Kikwete’s lineup has given to East Africans. Unlike Kenya which has 42 cabinet ministers and 50 assistants, Tanzania, despite its bigger population and bigger territory has only 29 ministers and 21 assistants. The combined number of those serving in the cabinet is just about 50% of the Kenyan cabinet. It shows that President Kikwete had in mind the burden that a huge cabinet can have on a country’s economy.

In an ethnically polarized society such as Kenya, Uganda or Nigeria, one would still have looked at Anna Tibaijuka’s tribe, region or even religion before asking her to serve her country in the best way she knows. Thank God for us; Tanzanians are light years ahead of us in dealing with the cancer of tribalism. They confined the ghost to the islands of the Indian Ocean long before Mwalimu Nyerere passed on.

Undugu still reigns supreme in Bongoland.




By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

November 25, 2010

For once, many Kenyans breathed a sigh of relief when Micah Cheresem and Charles Nyachae clinched the coveted chairs of the Constitution Implementation Commission and Revenue Collection. It was good news because the two gentlemen have not in the recent past shown any interest in political appointments until now when all Kenyans who thought they qualified and deserved the posts were asked to apply.

I have known Micah Cheserem since his days as Governor of the Central Bank under the Moi regime. A few visits to his office revealed the character of a man who was humble. He was never mesmerized by the powers of his office. Above all, he felt an acute sense of responsibility to Kenyans rather than the appointing authorities. The more reason he was able to restore sanity to the Central Bank and the financial sector in the short period he served as Governor.

His untimely departure from Central Bank in the last days of the KANU regime is still clear in our memories. Since then, two governors served in quick succession leaving nothing but scandals in their wake.

As an accomplished accountant and a principled and experienced public servant, the two principals could never have chosen a better man to head the Revenue Collection Commission for the next five years. More importantly, having carried no political baggage to the office, coupled with constitutional security of tenure, one can see that Micah will have an opportunity to deliver on his promise without looking behind his back as was the case under the one party regimes.

Charles Nyachae’s appointment was equally a pleasant surprise considering that he was probably the only candidate that had never served a political regime in his lifetime. This was despite the fact that his famous father served for decades as head of the civil service and a senior cabinet minister.

Considering that Charles Nyachae was pitted against fellow professionals in the legal fraternity and known political activists such as Kivutha Kibwana, Mutakha Kangu and Kamau Kuria, one can understand why the two principals settled on the humble and self-effacing younger Nyachae.

For those of us who have known Charles for some time now, we can safely confirm that his non-arrogant manner, his apolitical approach to life may just be the qualities one needs to navigate the turbulent waters of implementing the new constitution.

I remember meeting Charles a month ago at a funeral in his Kisii village where we had gone to bury the mother of our common friend. In that funeral, his father Simeon Nyachae had come with all his family members, Charles included.

As the senior Nyachae stood to speak at the funeral, he said many good things about his family and concluded by parading all his children for all mourners to see. As Charles walked past me, he humorously quipped to me and said, “Jerry, you can see real dictatorship on display”.

What Charles was trying to say was that here he was a grown up man and a successful lawyer yet, to his father, he was still just a child to be paraded before a crowd without his consent!

But perhaps the better motive for this mild protest was the fact that Charles has never basked in the glory of political limelight even when his father was in power. He curved his niche in law practice and was content with his personal achievements.

With these two appointments, Kenyans can decipher two important lessons; that it is never too late for the two principals to redeem themselves and deliver to Kenyans a pleasant surprise. Remember when the lineup of the short listed candidates was published in the local press, tongues started wagging regarding the names that were considered to be likely beneficiaries.

For some reason, most Kenyans assumed that it was either Kivutha Kibwana or Mutakha Kangu, considering their closeness with the two principals. In other words, Kenyans expected that it would be payback time for the think tanks of the two principals. Others talked of horse trading between the two principals in appointing chairs to the two crucial commissions. However, common sense and reason seem to have triumphed over political parochialism.

Considering that Rachel Omamo was the only woman candidate among the lineup, I placed my bet on her as the most likely candidate and having been used to be the first woman in many areas, I thought Rachel would equally be the first woman to be appointed to head a commission in this new dispensation considering that all other commissions are headed by men. Moreover, she is an accomplished lawyer, a former an ambassador to France and a former chair of the LSK.

Having said that, one must admit that there can only be one chairman at a time for each of the two institutions. For now, they are Charles Nyachae and Micah Cheserem and the best that we can all do is to congratulate them and allow them to do their work.


Friday, November 19, 2010



Thursday, 18th November, 2010

By Jerry Okungu

New Vision

Kampala, Uganda

SO many things are going on in Kenya. By their nature, they all look explosive and emotive due to our current ethnic politics. Nobody can do anything, make any decision or even support an issue of public interest without another person sitting at some corner of the republic reading politics or tribalism into the discourse.

Despite promulgating our new constitution three months ago with definite timelines for transition from the old order to the new dispensation, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to a number of the current leadership in politics and public service that it cannot be business as usual. We are still busy playing the old and tired ethnic cards that have ruined our country for years. Despite the constitution having abolished provinces and replaced them with counties, we are still talking of our regions and provinces.

Take the case of the current controversy on how the 80 new constituencies have been distributed countrywide. Some MPs from parts of Kenya are up in arms that they were not given enough new seats; never mind that the seats were distributed on the basis of the prescribed guidelines set out by the constitution—that population numbers and geographical expansiveness would be priority in curving out new constituencies.

Now some individuals have gone to court to stop the gazettement of the new constituencies as provided for by an Act of Parliament that created the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission. And it is easy to see why the new constituencies have blown up into another ethnic battleground.

Whereas MPs from six old provinces are happy with the distribution, their counterparts from Central and some parts of Eastern provinces are miffed by the developments. In this scenario, the latter MPs have thrown caution to the wind and blamed six of the nine commissioners for conspiring to deny them more seats and of course the presidency in the next elections. And the fact that the outgoing chairman of the Commission has been an ODM member and hails from Western Province has not helped matters much.

Now we see the situation degenerating in Parliament. It is slowly snowballing into a contest pitting ethnic communities in Central and parts of Eastern provinces—regions that have an interest in the presidency against the rest of the country.

This debate has the potential to prepare ground for another round of ethnic violence unless the present coalition government comes out to condemn these retrogressive leaders. The fact that the Government Printer failed to print the special Gazette Notice that should have legalised the new constituencies speaks volumes. Despite denials, it is obvious someone somewhere gave the orders that the document should not be printed.

The schemers of this sabotage may not have thought through the consequences of their action. Alternatively, they anticipated the same reaction they have received and actually wanted it that way so that the process of creating new constituencies can be stalled for sometime. Yes, this stunt may just create a stand-off between Parliament and the Executive for sometime with dire consequences for the implementation process.

The challenge Kenya now has is how to transform the country in accordance with the requirements of the new constitution with anti-reform elements still intact in the government. Reality is dawning on Kenyans that the biblical new wine in old skin can never survive. Either the old skin gives way or it destroys the flavour of the new wine. For how else can Kenyans expect technocrats that served in the Kenyatta and Moi regimes to accept change?

Once you have been around for between 40 and 50 years on the job, only a miracle can make you change the way you do things. There are some people in this government that cannot get over the fact that the new constitution has outlawed blatant abuse of office, issue of clandestine orders to punish their imagined enemies or use ethnicity as a criterion to reward or deny Kenyans employment opportunities.

It will be an uphill task implementing the new constitution before 2012 if MPs cannot even agree on the new constituencies; a development that can easily degenerate into ethnic conflict just as we did in 2007 and 2008. The more reason the East African Community members must keep an eye on Kenya because this country is an important economic player in the entire region.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010



The Standard
November 17 2010


International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has for the first time revealed some of the criteria he was using to pinpoint suspects he wants to blame for the 2007 post-election violence.

While reiterating his promise to present cases against at least six suspected masterminds of the post-election violence before the end of the year to Judges at The Hague, Ocampo appeared to give Kenyans a peek into his tactics.

In a video recording played for journalists at a media workshop in Nairobi on Tuesday, Ocampo made it clear that he was targeting leaders who incited communities against each other, and those who incited and funded their political supporters to carry out revenge attacks.

ICC is also believed to be concentrating on the role played by security forces in the crimes committed during the early post-election period.

The ICC process to collect statements from senior security officials who served in areas that experienced the violence reinforces this.

In his video message, Ocampo said cases against at least six suspects, some of whom fall into the above categories, would be presented before a three-judge bench at the ICC within the next six weeks.

"We have identified six individuals against whom I will be seeking the court’s permission to prosecute before the end of the year," said Ocampo.

Ocampo indicated that he had sufficient evidence that crimes against humanity were committed in Kenya during the 2007-2008 post election violence.

Leaders’ credibility

"We have credible evidence against the six individuals. There is evidence also that communities were incited to fight each other by some leaders drawn from the two parties", said Ocampo.

He said Kenyans have a task of seeking to work together and create means of compensating the victims, among them those who lost their homes and rape victims, and elect new leaders in the next elections purely on their credibility.

"It is our desire to see Kenyans conduct the next elections peacefully," he said in the video clip delivered and played for journalists by two ICC officials, Claus Molitor (Associate Analyst) and Ms Nicola Fletcher (media Liaison Officer).

The two later explained that they too were not aware of whom the six suspects were, adding: "Even if we knew we would not disclose at this stage."

The six Kenyans will know their fate after the judges reveal their verdict on the prosecutor’s submissions. They said the prosecutor would be appearing before the judges soon to present the Kenyan case, with the evidence linking the six to the violence that left 1,300 people dead.

ICC’s Own List

The duo was non-committal on whether they have already alerted the six of the impending action against them, only saying, "they will know at an appropriate time."

The two told journalists at a workshop on the operations of the ICC in Nairobi yesterday that the prosecutor was free to gather both incriminatory and exonerative evidence from Kenyans, including those implicated.

Molitor and Fletcher said the ICC was no longer relying on the list presented to them by the Philip Waki Commission, or the report complied by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

"We used their reports for analytical purposes, but we are not relying on their findings. We have found our own suspects and evidence incriminating them," said Molitor.

The team said Ocampo had only handed over the reports compiled by the two teams to the judges as a basis of seeking permission to commence investigations in Kenya.

"The prosecutor handed over the two reports to the judges then, but soon after being given a go-ahead, decided to conduct impartial and independent investigations that led to the six prime suspects," said Molitor.

On the recent visit of Eldoret North MP to The Hague, Fletcher said: "Ocampo and his team were willing to listen to Ruto and get his story. There was nothing unusual with the visit which has generated a lot of debate."

The team declined to disclose the finer details on what they discussed with Ruto during his recent visit.

They said the prosecutor was objective and will not be influenced by any other body, including the United Nations Security Council. " We are under stringent measures in our work as ICC to ensure that law is upheld," they said.

The officials also announced that they had no arrangements with any local organisation to protect witnesses likely to appear before the ICC in relation to the post-election violence. The court, they said, has its own mechanism for shielding its potential witnesses in any country where it has conducted investigations, and that Kenya is no exception.

"We have no link to those witnesses we are reading in the media are being protected by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. All our witnesses are under our care wherever they are," said Molito.

Molitor said the ICC has undertaken to protect all its witnesses, but declined to disclose their location.

"We are protecting our witnesses, but we cannot reveal where they are and even who they are," said Molitor.

Hearing starts

The official said the ICC was not intending to use the post-election violence witnesses identified by the Justice Philip Waki Commission or the Kenya National Human Rights Commission.

"We have identified our own witnesses against the six suspects, and we are going to use them when the hearing starts. Where they are, we can’t reveal at the moment, or even in future," said Fletcher.

The duo cautioned the media against what they termed speculations on who the ICC witnesses were and their protection. They clarified that the ICC was only protecting a few witnesses, while it was the responsibility of the Government to protect the rest.

New witnesses

They explained that the reports compiled by the Waki Commission and the KNCHR were received as communications by the ICC, but were not binding on the court.

"The two Commissions’ reports were mere communications to the ICC. They are not binding on ICC and can be used in Kenya by any tribunal to be established in future. We started our own process and ended up with our own evidence with new witnesses," they said.

They noted that in arriving at the six and identifying key witnesses, the ICC used information in the media some in the Internet to get clues.