Friday, February 24, 2012



 A crowd at G7 Prayer Meeting
By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
February 21, 2012

Sections of the American society have developed peculiar cultures. When a family loses a relative, they can hire mourners to do all the mourning and grieving for them. They will dress them in black robes to pause as genuine grieved family members. Their job is to appear at the funeral service, look desperately grieved and even lay a wreath on the coffin and walk away having been paid handsomely for that special appearance.

Here in Kenya, especially among the people of Nyanza, there are a group of “professional’ mourners that invite themselves at every funeral irrespective of whether they know the dead or not. Their motivation is the feast that normally accompanies most burials in Nyanza; more so if the dead came from a well- off family. Such mourners are conspicuously absent from poor family funerals because in such homesteads, food is hard to come by.

The behavior of some of our politicians over the last year has given us good examples of outsiders that normally grieve more than the bereaved. To the ordinary observers, such behavior is strange, uncalled for and raises eyebrows. However to the individuals prone to going in a trance, their behavior is normal because they know what motivates them.

The American professional mourner is very clear about his or her mission. The mourner is in it for the cash pure and simple. The Kenyan counterpart is there for the stomach period.

What about the Kenyan politician who has been following Ruto and Uhuru all the way to The Hague and back and now in all prayer rallies all over the country? What is it that has been motivating some of them to go on overdrive with their shuttle diplomacy to “save their friends” from the ICC trials? Were they doing this for the Ocampo Six or were they motivated by personal interests?

When the Ocampo Six appeared at The Hague for the Pre-trial Hearings, close to thirty MPs accompanied Uhuru and Ruto to The Hague.
They adorned the Ruto “patriotic hat” and even sang Kanu Yajenga Inchi, the Kenya National Anthem and yote yawezekana bila Ocampo.

Conspicuous among these cheer leaders was one Jeremiah Kioni the Ndaragua MP. Give or take, they looked genuinely in grief at the Ocampo Six pre-trials. They consoled the accused, paused for photos with them at the earliest opportunity, jostled for front row close-up shots with their heroes and vilified whoever was the cause of The Hague trials. You could see their behavior at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport the day Uhuru was departing to The Hague a second time!

This obsession and ecstasy with the ICC trials has continued to take the country by storm since the ICC confirmed the trials for David Sang, Francis Muthaura, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. However, for some reason, these prayer crowds seem to have forgotten David Sang and Francis Muthaura. The focus of the mourners has been on Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

The more the prayers have spread to different parts of Kenya, the longer the line of mourners has grown.

Conspicuous VIP mourners have been prominent in Eastern.Western, Coast, North Eastern, Central and Rift Valley regions.

In Mt. Kenya, we have had Esther Murugi who at one time threatened to strip naked if Uhuru’s trial was confirmed. She has yet to make good her threat. Also in the mix has been Jeremiah Kioni from Ndaragua until something went wrong at the Machakos prayer meeting. He has since been relieved of his duties at the G7 meetings.

However, if one looks at the common thread among all these mourners across the country, one sees that they are relatively poor compared to Uhuru and Ruto. They are also prone to sycophancy. They are the type of people who would follow you for what you have and more importantly for what you can give.

Except for Johnston Muthama who has been in the group for the sake of being closer to power, the rest of them are economically challenged hence their determination to hang on to the coattails of those that can give them the necessary political  clout while at the same time footing their bills.

Kalonzo Musyoka may have not been in the group for crumbs from the high table per se. His is a higher goal than the rest of the “mourners” of the Ocampo Two. He is in it as a possible beneficiary of the Kikuyu and Kalenjin vote should Uhuru and Ruto go for full trial.

Unfortunately for Kalonzo, he stands to lose the most because as Mutula Kilonzo keeps saying; his continued presence at these " prayer meetings" is denting his image as a future president of the Republic. His detractors now see him as an opportunist of the worst kind. Unfortunately for him, Uhuru and Ruto also see him that way!