One must wonder – what is Uhuru’s “nipe” in this obviously “nipe nikupe” game? Whatever it is, I’m afraid Kenya might be headed into really dark times. I don’t think Raila has insured his end of the bargain. He’s too focused on the end game. But his deal partner has proven to be so cunning especially in his presidential years that you can be sure it will be next to impossible to thwart him. Yet if elected, it is only in thwarting the president that Raila will rescue this country from the jaws of the hungry salivating crocodile that now ogles at Kenya.
The man whose picture simultaneously stared into my eyes and into the distance past me has now rested. The hero pilot who steered the plane that was definitely headed for a devastating crush back to safety and laid a basis for safer flights has bid us goodbye. I celebrate his life even as I mourn his demise.
For restoring hope to the hopeless, for rekindling the dying flames of a Kenya where dreams and aspirations are possible and realizable, for a life of service well lived in service, for setting an example and being a yardstick in an impossible environment, for doing more and talking less, may Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki find a special place with the saints and the angels. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
The Supreme Court’s verdict nullifying the BBI process is another landmark ruling, hot on the heels of others that have spoken to power in the past decade. The judgement and its near consistence with rulings on the issue at the High Court of Kenya and the Court of Appeal of Kenya bolsters Kenyans’ confidence in the country’s judiciary. Ever since the reforms that came with the constitution of Kenya 2010, the judiciary has set itself apart as a fair player among the three arms of government. Nowhere has the separation of powers been more potent and meaningful than in the interaction between the judiciary and the executive. Even against the odds of reduced budgetary allocations and threats from the president himself, the judiciary has stood tall and rebuffed every attempt at encroaching on its constitutional mandate.
Now, Uhuru and Ruto are the greatest of antagonists. Their former common foe is Ruto’s adversary but Uhuru’s best friend. All this with nothing having changed: the corruption issues that Raila used to castigate Uhuru’s government for have not been resolved and Ruto is still Uhuru’s deputy having been his treasured running mate twice! But Raila’s current opinion is that Ruto is corrupt, and Uhuru a good president. Uhuru now echoes Raila with the claim that Ruto is a thief.
President Kenyatta has systematically hijacked the fruits of the second liberation that, having been delayed during KANU’s stint at the helm between 1992 and 2002, had begun ripening under NARC and later the Coalition government.
For one, Kenyatta obliterated the opposition in the guise of uniting the country through the handshake. Moreover, the president sought to discredit the fourth estate by mocking, demeaning, and attacking the media using words such as “Gazeti ni ya kufunga nyama.” Additionally, the government eroded the right to peacefully demonstrate by countering peaceful protests with teargas and beatings. Then, using cabinet secretaries and other executive officials sycophantically loyal to him, the head of state weakened the other arms of government—the judiciary was brought to its knees through a reduced budget while the legislature went to the dogs when the sinister pact between the president and Raila Odinga gave the former unfathomable power to unleash severe punishment towards the law makers who dared stand up to his ridiculous stances.
Wasn’t it Uhuru Kenyatta that framed Raila Odinga as a power-hungry monster who was behind his and William Ruto’s woes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2012/2013? Didn’t he angrily brand the former premier a Kîmûdû and use a host of other unmentionable diatribes on him? Wasn’t he the one that promised a twenty-year reign of Jubilee divided between himself and William Ruto with the words, Wangoje yangu kumi na ya William kumi? Didn’t he mock the opposition with Endeleeni kumeza mate na sisi tuendelee kula nyama? Didn’t he stand side by side with William Ruto as the latter lied through his teeth about the nine stadia?
A man as careless in speech as Miguna Miguna; one who has as little patience to listen to others as he demonstrated on multiple platforms including Jeff Koinange Live in 2016/17; one who does more to discredit competitors than he does to sell his policies as he did while campaigning to be the Governor of Nairobi; one who raises his voice in insult, especially to a woman; such a man is unfit to be a leader.
The author’s meticulous interaction with refugees in Dadaab yields detailed accounts of the circumstances that brought them to the camp, the impact of their residence in the camp, and the kind of future each of them likely faces. We also get a rare insight into Kenya’s Northeastern region and national politics, the terror of Al Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia, regional intergovernmental relations especially among the nation-states of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia, as well as a glimpse into the malady that tribalism is for Africa.
Other than giving the Dadaab refugees a voice and revealing with such intensity the multiple intricacies of their lives in the face of the numerous forces operating in their world, a major strength of this book is the author’s use of description. With his words, Rawlence paints vivid images of people, places, and situations, easily taking the reader with him into and around Dadaab, as well as through parts of Kenya and Somalia.
“Ah! Bwana we! Unataka nikae vipi?” Nilimuuliza utingo aliyekuwa anajaribu kuweka mzigo fulani chini ya miguu yangu.
“Inua miguu, jamani,” alijibu huku akiishiwa na subira.
“Siinui ng’o!” Nilijibu kwa fadhaa.
“Aaah! Inua miguu bwana! Kwani unadhani wewe ndiye nani?”
“Sitainua. Utaninyima raha hadi lini wewe? Kwani sijalipia nafasi yangu kwenye matatu hii? Umenifinya vya kutosha kwa kujaza matatu kupindukia, na sasa unataka niinue miguu pia? Haiwezekani!”
“Acha ukorifi, jamaa. Hii ni matatu sio gari binafsi. Kama unataka starehe jinunulie gari.”
“Ni haki yangu kustarehe kwenye matatu nikichagua kusafiri kwa matatu. Kwani umenibeba bila malipo? Si nimelipia nafasi hii? Kama nimeilipia, nina haki ya kustarehe.”
“Eih! Inua miguu wewe! Kwani tutaishi hapa?” Abiria mmoja alibisha. Wengine pia walikuwa wameanza kunung’unika.
“Siwezi!” Nilijibu kwa ugombezi. “Watu kama nyinyi ndio mnasababisha tunakanyagwa kiasi hiki. Sasa ona tulivyofinyana. Matatu inafaa kubeba watu kumi na wanne lakini humu ndani tuko zaidi ya ishirini. Na nauli tumelipa, tena kiwango cha juu sana. Mnakubalije kutendewa hivi?”
Uhuru’s efforts seem to have placated Raila and cooled his all-consuming fire. But they have gone beyond that. They have completely vanquished political opposition and effectively crowned Kenyatta king. It is therefore not surprising that while Raila’s i’s are hardly dotted and his t’s barely crossed, he has little to say about the reconstitution of a new electoral commission. Like one pacifies a barking dog with a bone, Raila and the opposition have been mollified with friendship and individual economic rewards while their faithful supporters languish under a ruthless regime. The son of Jomo is on a free reign and… Woe to democracy! Woe to Wanjiku!