Thursday, 31 October 2013

There is a total lack of a moral voice for justice in Kenya

When the pastors in Mombasa asked for guns so as to protect themselves after two pastors were killed in unclear circumstances, I knew faith in the Christian God had reached rock bottom. For a group of people who constantly preach on the benefits of heaven they are quite unwilling to reach the pearly gates. Maybe the reason they feel such a strong need to shoot at the devil is because of what they owe him.

It’s just hypocritical by the way, that clerics of one faith will demand protection only after their own die. When Muslim clerics were killed in an extra-judicial execution that set off riots, all these Christian religious leaders did was condemn the burning of a church. They never demanded JUSTICE for the dead. This is an ingrained attitude of sheer selfishness.

As if that was not enough, the National Council of Churches of Kenya now is backing the calls for a one year deferral in the cases against Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at the International Criminal Court, and possibly more deferrals after that. The NCCK claimed the reasons for deferrals as possible scenarios where the President and his Deputy are both out of the country at the same time, or a situation where either one or both could be convicted and that could lead to instability in the country.
When it comes to speaking up for justice, these are not the voices you will hear. These voices speak for the sake of the regime of the day, and are interested only in the retention of that regime. There are over 6000 cases related to the post election violence in 2008 and still no church, preacher, pastor or “man of god” has demanded justice to be executed in those cases.

What we have in Kenya is dearth of morality, and our religious leaders are the blank space between man and god where that morality should have been. All of a sudden, after campaigning, holding public prayer rallies, endorsing and praising the two suspects, our preachers suddenly remember that if the ICC trials go on, both of them will be tied up at The Hague for extensive periods of time.
Speaking of prayers, never once was a prayer rally held on behalf of the 1300 people who died. Never once was a memorial service held, or words of condolences given to the bereaved. It is no wonder that they will not speak of justice being served in Kenya for the victims.

You have to wonder what little value the parishioners hold for these church leaders. After all, it is not the NCCK who were killed in Kiambaa church, but the church goers. It is not the NCCK council leaders who were massacred in 2008, but those faithful who professed Christianity, of course not forgetting the people of other faiths who were killed as well. 

I am sure the 600,000 people displaced during the conflict called out to God as they ran for their lives. I am sure that every day, those IDPS all across the country, from Kisii, Migori, Nyanza, Mombasa and Rift Valley areas all pray that God one day will seek Justice and punish their tormentors. I am also sure that these Pharisees are determined that despite those prayers no real justice will be served because it does not serve their political interests.

Let’s face it; the ICC is indeed a political court. What is wrong with a court being political after all? Is it not true that we have cases currently being tried at the ICC because Kenya made a political decision to “Go to Hague, not be vague”? Weren’t the crimes committed due to politically instigated and planned violence? Are not the three suspects charged for political reasons of being the “Most responsible”? 

A political court is what you need to try politicians who believe themselves above the law in their own countries. When the religious leaders demand a deferral for political reasons, then they are simply declaring that politically, the politics they ascribe to are higher than the politics of JUSTICE.
It is abject hypocrisy. It is people-loathing, sadistic politics, where by the politician is placed higher than god’s people and the shepherd helps the wolf devour the sheep. I always wondered where our total lack of humanity stems from and it looks like it comes straight from the pulpit.

There is no doubt that what is being tried at the ICC is not just our own failure as a nation to stabilize our society and strengthen our judiciary, but what is also at trial is our morality and dignity as people.  We must come to realize that without a single moral voice in this country to speak against injustice, that what is at trial is not the politician’s  perverse sense of “sovereignty” but our own self worth, our own humanity and our leaders’ INHUMAN nature. God is watching you, preachers!

Monday, 7 October 2013


It seems time stopped on September 21st 2013 at Westgate Mall and since then we have been crying out We Are One.
A grieving nation should pull together. A grieving nation should be determined to do more than just condemn the violence. A nation that is grieving should be told the truth about what happened.
How can we even begin to heal when we are deliberately misinformed by government officials? Why was the truth the first casualty of Westgate and why is the truth being buried along with our loved ones?
When the religious clerics, of various faiths came out to condemn the Westgate attack, they seemed to strongly believe that religion was the motive behind it.  It is so easy, to deflect attention at such terrible times, to perhaps try and hasten the grieving process by assuring the public that ‘God is not pleased with terrorists.’
Do we denounce the terrorist and his faith becomes a non-faith? Does God thus reject the Mujahedeen when he arrives in Janna because our clerics denounced his actions as un-Islamic?

It is a fabrication of reality that any terror attack is simply religious. Terrorism by definition is the use of violence and intimidation for a POLITICAL aim. It is because of its inherent political and emotional connotations that there is no universally agreed upon legal definition that can be applied to decide who are terrorists. That means that even the international community considers it a conundrum due to the fact that any groups or states can use violent means to pursue self determination or national liberation.
In October 2011, Kenya Defense Forces made a military incursion into Somalia in response to flagrant cross-border attacks conducted by a militant group called Al-Shabaab. Almost immediately, there were retaliatory attacks from the Northern border and all the way down to Mombasa. Dozens of civilians and military personnel were killed in shootings and grenade attacks by supposed supporters of Al-Shabaab. 
According to the Human Rights Watch- World Report 2013 on Kenya, “Security forces often responded by arbitrarily arresting, detaining and beating civilians in Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, and the Dadaab refugee camps.” The report goes on to state:
“There were numerous cases where Kenyan security forces responded to the attacks by abusing civilians. Documented abuses included rape and attempted sexual assault; beatings; arbitrary detention; extortion; the looting and destruction of property.”
Abu Mansur Al-Amriki, the spokesman for Al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack and demanded that the KDF forces pull out of Somalia. He claimed that KDF forces were guilty of atrocities in Somalia and that until they pulled out, Al-Shabaab would continue to attack civilians in Kenya. He made it clear that Kenyans would suffer as the Somali people had suffered under KDF.
The most chilling details of the Westgate siege are now emerging. One unconfirmed report says that a doctor told of tortured bodies, severed heads and hacked limbs. We don’t know how reliable these accounts are, we can only be sure that victims of the Westgate attack, many of them women and children, were most certainly savaged and tormented.
It is something that we, as a nation, have steadfastly ignored, the fact that our own soldiers may be guilty of atrocity in Somalia, and that our own government is culpable in the oppression and abuse of an entire ethnic community even within our borders and causing people in turn to become radicalized.
We are now calling it a “terrorist attack by religious extremists.” Somehow, in the last two weeks, what was a clear political statement has been morphed into simply violence by religious extremists. This morphology was of course greatly enhanced by the religious clerics who loudly condemned the actions as “un-Islamic” and contrary to Islam.
If Al-Shabaab were mere religious extremists, then the majority of their victims since 2006 would be non Muslims. Instead, the majority of the victims and those that are oppressed by Al-Shabaab are Muslims themselves.
There is an uncomfortable truth in all this, the fact that our own soldiers and government maybe guilty of terrorizing people in a pretentious quest to “liberate” them. This is true of war, that civilians and especially women and children are the ones who suffer the most. Even as we seek to now address the security concerns of our nation in the wake of the Westgate siege we need to remember that whatever violence we inflict will be inflicted upon us as well.
This is not the time for religious condemnation or edicts. This is the time for this country to unite beyond its ethnic and political differences and to jointly go back to a war we started. We did not finish Linda Nchi, because we did not bring protection to the country. What Kenyans did is ignore the abuse and oppression that was being reported instead of insisting that these abuses be dealt with and brought to an end, and we made things worse. If we are really one, this is the first truth that we must face and accept for the sake of the country.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Why Jubilee Supporters should leave the president Alone - By Gideon Kubai

I welcome different opinions. Gideon Kubai expresses his sentiment on Jubilee Supporters and their attachment to President Uhuru Kenyatta in his piece - Why Jubilee Supporters should leave the president alone.

Why Jubilee Supporters should leave the president Alone - By Gideon Kubai

As hard as it seems nowadays to reason with the millions of jubilee supporters across the country and in the diaspora I think this is an opportune time to direct a few truths; cold hard facts to the jubilee army online and on the ground.
It must be done now before it’s too late; too late to salvage the president and the country.  The message must be sent short and clear: Leave the president alone. Stop impeding on his work to run the country. And I decree you put a space between yourselves and the president.

President’s personal battle
First, we acknowledge that you did a splendid job of carrying Jubilee and its flag bearer to power. Against seemingly insurmountable odds you made him president! That was a feat capable only in Kenya. But that dear Jubilee supporter was during campaign period and so many things have changed since. The president has acquired new important responsibilities that do not include appealing to your narrow ethnic interests.  He now presides over Kenya and its important you adjust to these new realities. But sadly you have abrogated to yourselves the role of the presidents’ defenders and you insist to fighting his personal battles.
If the president is a soldier you have stubbornly insisted on being his body armor albeit a very cumbersome one that is impeding on his movement.  The president assumed leadership in full cognizance that he carried on his person some liabilities; some weaknesses that will occasionally if not always impinge on execution of his state duties. And the president on national and international television has consistently acknowledged those personal liabilities.But Jubilee supporters in an uncontrolled frenzy of arrogance and ignorance are pressing the president to dump his personal liabilities on the shoulders of Kenyans who are already sagging with heavy burdens. Again you insist on fighting the president’s personal battles and by god you have done a splendid job both online and on the ground.
Your zeal online is unrivaled and your dedication on the ground is unmatched. You have literally taken over Kenyan social media; facebook, twitter and blogs are buzzing with your handiwork. You have dedicated acres and acres of online space to singing the presidents’ praises and defending his name against the agents of devil and imperialists western powers. Alas you have even taken it a step further and roped in his family – which by the way your knowledge of it is very scant- in your adoration. I am sure many jubilee supporters can’t tell Jaba from Jomo yet you have created and run their fan pages which status updates read like a hagiography of Wango’mbe Waihura - the legendary Kikuyu warrior. But that is not to say that the president’s boys aren’t two fine young men because to do so would be unfair and malicious. Yet am sure they must also be secretly wondering who these very dedicated jubilee supporters are talking about; just what is going!

The ground troops have not been left behind either. The Jubilee army in parliament led by the very able captain Aden Duale has been in full battle mode. But did they have to create such a fuss about withdrawing from the Rome Statute / ICC? Just to please and ingratiate themselves to the president? Though the jubilee supporters and legislators might deny it I am sure the president has heard of the English saying ‘close the stable door when the horse has bolted’. If it was not so the president wouldn’t be so keen on proving his innocence at a full trial in ICC. Unlike the jubilee legislators spurred by sycophancy, boot licking and self-preservation the president fully understand the pullout from the ICC has zero advantage to his quest to prove his innocence and might likely be detrimental to that very quest. But what do you expect from a bunch of parliamentarians majority of whom owe their presence in the august house not from the people’s mandate but the presidents’ campaign posters:  all they did in campaign period was print over sized posters with their portraits next to the presidents face and the magical white dove. The rest as they say is history.A foreigner would be forgiven for thinking the president was running in a hundred plus constituencies! 

Secondly, I have noticed you have lately been lecturing the country on the subject of sovereignty, imperialism and neo-colonialism. From the illiterate peasant to the brilliant lawyer in your ranks every one of you seems to have an expert opinion about sovereignty. It’s amazing how peasants and the elite can easily find common ground!  Your understanding of sovereignty is summed up by the declaration that American and Britain should mind their business because Kenya is a mighty and sovereign state! May I remind you that contrary to your flawed notion and declaration Kenya is not a mighty nation and our sovereignty has never been in doubt from any quarters that we have to shout ourselves hoarse across the seas and oceans.
The United Nations recognizes us as such so you are not telling the world anything new! And that unwarranted braggadocio that leads you to proclaim our mightiness from roof tops will be our downfall. We don’t have the biggest military in the world, we don’t have the biggest economy in the world and our people are still dying of hunger and preventable diseases in 21st century among many other niggling problems. Or how can we be a mighty nation when the president has just returned from an overseas borrowing and begging spree? Where is the logic here dear jubilee supporters? Mightiness must be quantified with an advanced sense of self-reliance.

And please also spare us the national embarrassment with this liberation and neocolonialism rhetoric. Who walks in a crisp western style suit in a parliament that receives millions of shillings in American grants, stands on the floor of the house bound by standing orders that are more British than Kenyan and in a labored Queen’s English lectures the country on liberation and neocolonialism? What happened to the national dress to at least cloth the hypocrisy!Or on what grounds other than ignorance can a young man weaned on Shakespeare, and a self-proclaimed fan of English football to the blood preach to anybody about liberation in an exuberant tweet or post? How can somebody still in mental chains lecture anybody on neocolonialism? How can a whole generation of young people whose pastime has become English premier league manage to hate all things west at the same time? Don’t you think it is high time Britain exercised its sovereignty and told all these ‘liberated’ jubilee supporters to mind their own business!And just to remind you the president has a degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts; the state famously touted as the spirit of America. Have you heard the president denounce his American education?
Suffice it to say that we are just another family in the family of nations. A family struggling to feed its people and improve their quality of lives and towards this endeavor we need all the support we can get from our neighbors both across the borders and oceans. The old adage still ring true: no man is an island. China - the god father you have suddenly grown fond of – with its mighty army and booming economy still maintain diplomatic relations with America. In fact you might say China is taking over America going by the number of china towns inside of America. And mind you Hu Jintao still pays courtesy calls on Obama at the white house.
The concept of sovereignty has many elements to it and while the jubilee army obsesses on internal sovereignty there is another element to it called popular sovereignty. The one practiced in representative democracies like Kenya. It is not without a reason it is enshrined in our constitution. And for your information we can choose to exercise it directly or through elected representatives like we have done.  But once in a while will be called upon to exercise it through referendum. So we can have a referendum debate in the country without appearing to support your arch enemies CORD because Kenya is not just about you versus them.

Jubilee Manifesto
As you can see jubilee supporters popular sovereignty places an important responsibility on the people of Kenya to oversight their government. To make sure the sovereign authority is exercised in accordance with the people’s aspirations. And seeing the president has severally acknowledged this oversight on national television you do him and the country a great injustice to demonize every criticism directed to the government. And what is very annoying about your defense is the fact that it is peppered with fallacies, propaganda, illogicality and insults rather than reason. You call people traitors and betrayers and remind critics that elections are over when they point out the governments’ short comings. Please note not all government critics are CORD affiliates or sympathizers or want jubilee to fail in delivering its manifesto. It’s simply about holding the president to the promises carried in that jubilee manifesto which many of jubilee supporters did not read. It was not important for you to read it because you dislike deep understanding but like sound bites! So I want the president to succeed because he is also my president and if he succeeds in delivering all the goodies promised in the jubilee year I will share in the merriment regardless of my political leanings, creed, tribe or even religion. And to that end I will be more useful criticizing the president than praising him.

Civil society
Lastly, jubilee supporters you have made known your abhorrence of civil society or anything that look like one. You have been unforgiving in condemnation of what you variously call the agents of devil and imperialist forces of the west. You have branded personalities in the civil society movement traitors, sell outs and betrayers. In your eyes everyone in the civil society has fallen short of the glory; you read a devilish scheme to sacrifice the president at the ICC. I must say you operate from a very short and poor memory. If you rewind back to 2008 / 2009 period when the contents of now infamous envelope were not in the public domain the ICC at The Hague was the court of choice for a majority of Kenyans to deal with post-election violence suspects. No less than the president’s deputy shared and openly supported this choice. But you don’t like opinions polls because you think it’s a con game orchestrated by civil society and the west to fix your man. Well, I have little trust for these polls and although I don’t embrace them whole-hearted like the gospel some of their findings are often accurate. It’s true that presently the support for ICC among Kenyans is at an all-time low.
Because you forget fast and are impervious to reason you have conveniently erased from your collective memory the fact that it is indeed the PNU now TNA cum Jubilee legislators in the tenth parliament who put the president in the ICC mess in a baffling feat of myopia. They rejected a local tribunal! Let me remind you of a simple truth. To imagine Kenya can thrive without a vibrant civil society is to take naivety to the extreme. It’s to lose all sense of our country’s history. The freedoms you enjoy today came courtesy of brave men in civil society who stood up against Moi’s dictatorship. And during this period the imperialist western powers you detest very much were on hand to lend their support to the movement. I am reminded of one American Ambassador Smith Hempstone who many Kenyans had nothing but admiration for. So you see civil society is not necessary evil but rather a bulwark to safe guard against government excesses and abuses. If our democracy has to grow we must support a vibrant civil society and more so because Kenyans starting with you are very timid people when it comes to defending the country against internal imperialists sitting in parliament and other executive offices.
 Finally, not all in the civil society want to fix the president. I have personally worked in the civil society. The youth movement I work for has received money from American government to implement peace and civic education programs in Naivasha. I can confirm to you that in approving a grant for a proposed project the key considerations are viability, objectivity and political neutrality. In addition, the Americans have sponsored me for training in their country. At no time in our association have I been asked to participate in a scheme to overthrow my government or fix anybody in the political circles as some in the tenth parliament made you believe.
So dear jubilee supporters my undertaking of my civic duty as a Kenyan will not always make you happy but the loss here is yours not mine. You all will do well to appreciate that Kenya is much more than you and CORD. There are other voices struggling to be heard above the maddening cacophony you have generated in defense of the president. If you will be civil enough to crank it down a decibel or two the nation will begin to engage in a civil dialogue that will be meaningful to all of us.

Gideon Kubai
The writer is the Founder and Program coordinator for Vijana na Mageuzi Initiative and grandson of the Late freedom fighter Fred Kubai.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Leaked “Email-gate” is Criminal, not Investigative Journalism

Every good and sound investigation is founded on facts that support a plausible theory. When we say, “investigative journalism” we are talking about a journalist who has taken months to research and buildup information and obtain facts which when put together provides a plausible theory or even an actual validated story. 

Investigative journalism is usually conducted with the intent to uncover a covert undertaking of a corrupt nature, either in the political arena or in government. Investigative reporting is supposed to be a primary source of information; it is the underlying premise upon which the term “public watchdog” is applied to the Fourth Estate.

In an investigative report the journalist will utilize analysis of documents, law suits, taxation documents accounts or public records, scrutiny of government policies and practices and analysis of social and legal issues. The journalist will interview various sources, some even anonymous with information directly related to the subject of investigation, and the journalist will use law that de-classifies information in order to obtain government reports.

If you add all of this up, it’s clear we DON’T have investigative journalism going on in our local media. What we have instead, are half-hearted attempts at appearing to be a journalist while the reporter is fed all sorts of questionable information from single, unnamed and unverified sources, no documentation and questionable acquisition of data.
Take for example the “investigative report” done in a local leading media house that touched on a so-called conspiracy against the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary. 

First of all, the idea that emails are hacked and thus “reliable” documentary evidence is just fiction. Hacking or illegally obtaining documentation from unwilling or unknowing sources is not journalism it is criminal activity.  Any documents obtained in such a manner cannot even be used as evidence to prove a case in a court of law so why would anyone do it?

So perhaps the emails were not actually hacked but LEAKED to the journalist. This brings into question why the emails were leaked, what did the person leaking the emails hope to achieve? Are leaked emails parts of an investigative report, or simply planted information put in the media with the intention to create a specific idea about the goings on in the Judicial Service Commission.
Incidentally, right from the beginning, the entire approach of having a very public fight between the Chief Registrar and the JSC reeked to high heaven. I will not comment on the fact that the Media Group CEO happens to have a spousal connection with the Chief Registrar, I think that is self explanatory.

Interestingly enough, Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News of The World’ applied similar tactics in its so called investigations, hacking, tapping phone calls and leaking photos. Of course, that did not constitute journalism, simply criminal activity which resulted in the 167-year-old paper shutting down in 2011 after the Leveson inquiry.

Some can argue that the contents of the emails are incriminating enough to warrant release to the public. Well, we don’t know what the emails actually contain. All we know is what the “journalist” leaked to the public in his report, one that included fictional characters from a classic film. In the report, the Chief Registrar is supposedly referred to as “Darth Vader.”

For the sake of clarity – Darth Vader is the main villain in the Star Wars series of films developed by George Lucas in the 1970s. The Star Wars tale is not a children’s story, instead a rather adult film based on science fiction with a rather adult and violent story line, cultivated along what is known as a “Redeemer” concept. The “Redeemer” in this film series is prophesied to be the one who will save the galaxy from evil. Though ultimately irredeemably evil himself, Darth Vader is eventually revealed as the “Redeemer” in Star Wars Episode 6 when he somehow finds a miniscule moment of conscience and helps destroy the chief weapon used by evil forces, the Death Star. 

Note: It takes 6 films for Darth Vader to do the right thing.

It’s not a surprise that the first time we heard of similarly fantastic nicknames given to people in the JSC was during a Parliamentary Commission inquiry where Ms. Shollei was testifying.  In fact, it is the Chief Registrar who first mentioned that JSC member lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi referred to himself as “The Grand Mullah.” At the time, I found it rather amusing that a person existed that had such a massive ego. It was rather cartoonish.

The uncanny consistency and similarity in the claims made by the Chief Registrar and the claims made in the investigative ‘email-gate’ report lead one to conclude that the source is the same.
If indeed, there is a person within the JSC whose character is deemed so wicked as to be nicknamed “Darth Vader”, one of Hollywood’s greatest and most evil villains, then for the sake of the galaxy, I think it’s important that person is dealt with. As investigations are conducted in the JSC, I suggest we start with “Darth Vader”.

There is no doubt that an investigation IS going on in the JSC and its intended result is the much needed judicial reforms that the entire nation is waiting for. Let’s face it; our judiciary is in big trouble.  If there was an actual conspiracy going on, complete with a 30 point plan to institute by all means the reforms that are necessary, then such a plan would likely be intended for a greater positive purpose.  The only way to know if such a conspiracy really exists is to look at the facts. Do the facts point to such a plan being implemented? The answer is no. There is no criminality. Instead, it fits the emerging Kenyan pattern perfected in the International Criminal Court cases where the suspect morphs into a victim.

More serious and sinister, is the idea that private and confidential email between members of the JSC and high ranking officials can be leaked to the public and quoted as part of some conspiracy. The notion itself is so insidious and calculating; it is a chilling realization that our Judiciary and the JSC can be infiltrated in such a manner. Journalism does not include directly harassing the Judiciary, that is simply criminal and it should be dealt with as such.