As ECOWAS receives standing ovation, the African Union needs to reflect on her assertiveness in regard to Elections.

ecowas

One fundamental component of democracy world over has been -and still is- a free, fair, credible and verifiable elections with an accompaniment of a peaceful transfer of power. Africa, for the longest time now has been touted as a region that still lags behind in integrating this component into her ‘democracy’. One of the reasons being that, unlike the so called mature democracies where predictable processes can lead to unpredictable results -such as a Trump presidency- most of Africa’s ‘democracies’ are deep-seated in unpredictable processes that yield predictable results. Not until just recently when the paradigm seems to be shifting -with the most recent instance being elections in The Gambia.

Predictable results in this context being synonymous with incumbents retaining power whether they win or not -whether they manipulate election processes or not -whether there is conflict/ ethnic cleansing or not -whether the regional bodies, African Union and International community intervene or not.

Yahya Jammeh in his own wisdom or lack of, thought that even if he reversed his earlier concession, he still had the instruments of violence to at least allow him remain president. The worst that could have happened in case of conflict was a power sharing deal presided over by the regional body, African Union and the International Community. But ECOWAS would tolerate none of that.

At this particular period when Yahya Jammeh was illegally clinging onto power, the AU Peace and Security Council was also meeting. Issuing mild threats. That, among other measures, the AU will cease to recorgnize Jammeh as the President of the Gambia -and also warned him of ‘serious consequences’ should the situation degenerate into a crisis. .  Although the AU pledged its support for ECOWAS,  it’s  highly debatable that it is this position taken that made Jammeh leave The Gambia. This is simply because the AU is becoming (in)famous today for issuing hot air as threats. Take Burundi for instance -or South Sudan.

After the 2011 elections in The Gambia where Yahya Jammeh allegedly ‘won’ the elections with 72% of votes, the West African region was keenly following the build up to the 2016 elections- main reason being that the region, especially Senegal, was already tired with the person of Jammeh with his illegal activities in the region. And ECOWAS was determined to right the wrongs in the 2016 contest.  However, pre election interference was still evident. For instance, 18 months to the election, Jammeh had already made the Supreme Court obsolete. Meaning, in case the opposition wished to dispute the elections, they wouldn’t have an audience. This is against the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.  And pre-election interference is where trouble begins, and sadly also, where the AU absence seems to be so loud.

Thus, the AU needs to assert her presence in the Pre-election processes.

Pierre Nkurunzinza in 2015 manipulated the justice system to allow him secure a third term in office, clearly contravening the AU charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Yet both the AU and EAC never seemed to be keen to do what is RIGHT and watched as he conducted ethnic cleansing pre-elections. Other argument indicate that actually at this time when the AU’s focus is pulling out of the Rome Statute, they need more of the likes of Pierre Nkurunzinza in office -since they support this mission- and that’s why the AU seems reluctant to act on such.

Now, this does not mean that an African Country cannot or should not extend or give an additional term to a sitting President -But agreed upon procedures in the statutes should be followed. For instance, holding of a referendum like it happened in Rwanda.

Pre elections, many Member States, including relatively democratic ones like Kenya will still contravene articles 12(3), 19, 28 of the AU charter on Democracy in relations to civil societies, media and expression which the AU should be seen to be vocal about. This in an attempt to prevent tensions moving into an election. It is still hard to believe that the AU in this 21st century will declare polls ‘free and fair’ amid media blackout, opposition intimidation and even ethnic cleansing that prevents perceived opponents from voting.

In the spirit of Pan-Africanism. The spirit of Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie, the African Union in the spirit of the charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, should shift focus and act on behalf of ‘We the People’ as opposed to acting on behalf of elite leaders. One recent example of the importance of working on behalf of the people, is the example of Gabon’s Jean Ping. He ‘dutifully’ served as the Chair of the AU Commission in the periods 2008 to 2012. He was however viewed to side with African dictators and did little to build capacities in relations to elections. When he returned home to vie for Presidency in Gabon in 2016 elections, he could only wonder how Ali Bongo retained power in an election that ballots are burned immediately after elections -not giving room for any type of vote recount. With cases of 99.99% voter turnout.

In conclusion therefore, as much as Africa today is celebrating the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for their intervention in upholding Democracy in The Gambia, the African Union should reflect on asserting her presence on behalf of ‘we the people’ when it comes to Electoral Processes.

 

It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African Unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the World.    Kwame Nkrumah.

 

 

 

2017 Elections; Will Your Vote COUNT, or will it just be a COUNTED one!

iebc2

Of course -a vote that counts, first has to be counted- but many a times, votes are counted that end up not counting at all. What am I saying? Pundits today are advancing an argument that in a number of regions, Africa being one of them, elections are never held, rather, what only takes place, is mere ethnic census. That, instead of people coming together to address pertinent issues at the ballot, they join their ethnic cocoons to prove that they have more numbers.

Today the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission continue to conduct the very last mass voter registration exercise pre elections -and Kenyans are keenly calculating the numbers, 201 days into the ethnic census -‘sorry’, into the elections. Whilst it is good practice for more and more individuals to air their voice through the ballot in a Democracy, Kenyans need to pause for a minute and reflect on this VOICE they intend to air at the August polls.

In her slightly more than 50 years of independence, Kenya has demonstrated only 4 times that people can come together to crystallize pertinent issues. These moments being; 1) During the 1963 elections, 2) During the struggle to return to multi-party system, 3) During the 2002 elections to dismember the status quo, 4) During the struggle for a new Constitution which was subjected to a referendum in 2010. In these instances, we have had 3 generations actively or passively involved. The first generation that fought for independence and later formed the independence government. The second generation that joined part of the first to fight for the return to multi-party system at the same time fighting for Constitutional reforms. And the third generation who, very few joined the struggle as students, a few who were able to vote in 2002 to dismember the status quo, and a sizeable number that voted in the 2010 Constitution. It is in this third generation that today we have the so called youth. Unfortunately, majority of whom who have never been involved in any serious mission to shape the destiny of Kenya -both in the past and present. It is this group -the youth- who today have the capacity to use the POWER of the VOTE to shape the destiny of Kenya. But are they planning to do so?

shape-tommorow-by-voting-today

It is no secret that majority of those being affected by the mismanagement and misappropriation of public resources in the Kenya of today are the youth and women. As they, and future generations keep being pushed back into poverty. Many of whom are denied opportunities in sustainable employment, training, investment, saving and health. Unfortunately, at present, the same youth and women seem to have accepted the cult of incompetence to be the norm in Political leadership – always electing leadership (from top to bottom) that is not sensitive to their wishes and suffering.

Looking at vote patterns among the youth globally in the last few years, a mix of the patterns seem inevitable in Kenya this 2017. First, there is the usual ethnic vote, where politicians maximize by creating external enemies from other ethnic communities to convince their own to vote for them -not because they are the best qualified, but simply because the other from a different ethnicity should be disqualified.

Secondly, there is the protest vote. Where the masses are simply tired of lies, political mischief and incompetence among the elites. And so they vote them out of office as protest. The most famous example and recent one was when after the Democratic Party primaries in the US, the feeling that Bernie Sanders had been rigged out, made some of his supporters to vote for other party presidential candidates -including Trump! In Africa, a wave of one term presidents has started sweeping across the Continent due to protest votes.

Then definitely there will be cases of voter apathy. This will be due to lack of a motivational factors, both for or against. When the ‘what is at stake’ is not quite clear. A  perfect instance is with the youth in the UK during their famous BREXIT referendum. Even though the two Kingdoms of England and Wales were for BREXIT as the other two, Scotland and Northern Ireland against, majority of youth across the board seemed to be against BREXIT. But with the very high levels of voter apathy among the youth, they were only left with the option of unsuccessfully starting an online petition to have a chance with a second referendum.

So which way Kenya?

2017 presents a very a unique case, especially for youth and women -both at the National level, and at the County level. More and more people, both in town centers and in the villages are in agreement that political stratification is not by ethnicity, rather, the real stratification is between those who have, and those who don’t. Between the so called those who COUNT and those to be COUNTED. This coupled with the very high levels of unemployment and underemployment, corruption, exclusion, high cost of doing business due to kick-backs at tendering processes, high unexplained national debt among others.

But in order to put things straight, one must vote. Not voting is never an option, since in case of an unfair election, ballots can be stuffed and your name stricken off on the register (in case of a manual process) , and you end up voting ‘in absentia’.

Therefore, if this generation wants to go down  history as the generation that rejected corruption at the ballot, rejected ethnic prejudices at the ballot, rejected inequality and marginalization at the ballot, then the best opportunity presents itself at the August 2017 ballot.

Therefore, fellow youth, if you are eligible to register as a voter, kindly register, and make sure you participate in shaping the destiny of the Nation Kenya by voting in August 2017.

 

“To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” Louis L’Amour. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standoff on Election Laws (Amendment), and Why Reverting to Street Demonstration might serve more of Jubilee’s interest than the Opposition’s.

Kenya's Supreme Court judges file into the chamber during the opening of the 11th Parliament in Nairobi

In a period of less than one Month, when Parliament is still on recess, four special sittings were gazetted- and conducted in both the two houses. This, accompanied by a one week public participation. Bone of contention, The Election Law (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill, 2015 -coming just seven months before the general elections.

With the main issue revolving around three processes of voter registration, voter identification during elections and vote transmission – the average Kenyan has ended up being ping-ponged between two vocabularies – MANUAL and ELECTRONIC. And a third one, COMPLIMENTARY.

Looking at this discourse through an objective prism, it is my submission that both Jubilee’s concerns, and the oppositions concerns, are legitimate. But it is only the lack of TRUST between them, and among other players, that’s causing the standoff. While Jubilee submits that a system can fail thus the need to compliment it, opposition views the ambiguity of the word compliment as a direct reference to manual identification of voters and manual transmission of votes -having learned from the 2013 elections, when the systems, instead of identifying voters, only served as election decorations at polling stations, with no explanation whatsoever -even though taxpayers money was heavily invested in them. The fact that opposition has also viewed the IEBC as an appendage of Jubilee, doesn’t make matters any simpler. This is why the President ought not to append his signature to this controversy, instead, refer it back to negotiations to iron out concerns and build the needed TRUST going into the elections.

However, as things stand today, the opposition this week will be mobilizing her troops at Bomas of Kenya to craft their way forward. Among the options at their disposal are 1) mobilizing their tyranny of brains (as crafted by opposition) to nullify the amendments in Court, 2) Lobby for the President to refer the amendments back to negotiations, 3) Call for mass demonstrations –among others. At this point in time, the option of mass demonstration MIGHT fail to work in favor of opposition and work in favor of Jubilee. And this is why?

  1. It is a period of mass voter registration.

Even though voter registration is an ongoing process, Politicians and Political parties can optimize this period to excite their followers by rallying those who would have otherwise not register into registering. Scheduled for mid January to mid February, if opposition decides to be on the streets at this time, they might lose on the very last chance before the set election dates to mobilize their supporters to register. And this will clearly work to the advantage of Jubilee.

  1. De-legitimize opposition’s quest for credible elections.

This you can take to the bank. That in case of demonstrations, Jubilee will use all available opportunity to sell the notion that Opposition has never been interested in elections -whether credible or not. And that their only interest is chaos. Jubilee has cited instances of alleged interference of elections from both within and without. Although they are yet to present a strong case to substantiate the same.

  1. Serve as an avenue for ethnic mobilization.

When the National Assembly passed this amendment, the opposition, led by co-principle Kalonzo Musyoka scheduled 4th January 2017 as the date for embarking back to street demonstration. Although the call was to be called off again, it is worth remembering that GEMA also gave terms of engagement. That they would also rally their troops to defend their businesses. This is with respect to Nairobi. But if it was purely a function of businesses, wouldn’t it therefore be prudent to mobilize the entire Business Community that includes the Luhya and the Kamba business men? If let’s say the demonstrations happened, and GEMA mobilized her people to protect businesses, would it have therefore devolved into “them against us” kind of arrangement? The kind of arrangement that would eventually throw reason out of the window?

It is therefore worth noting that at this time, calls for demonstrations have very high probabilities of introducing ethnic mobilizations, and everyone can easily forget what’s at stake, filled with emotions and continue making mistakes at the ballot.

Ethnic mobilization as a result of demonstrations will make Jubilee’s campaign in their own strongholds very easy. As easy as Sunday morning. This is because they will simply get narratives for blaming the opposition on all the misfortunes during their term.

Whether in August 2017 Kenya will be heading for a general election, or simply just another ethnic census exercise, the opposition should be aware of the free points that they risk throwing Jubilee’s way when they call for street demonstrations at this time.

However, having said this, the opposition is at liberty and within the constitution mandate to invoke article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya in pursuit of a middle ground in this standoff.

But more fundamentally, for the sake of the Nation Kenya, the President of this Republic ought to rise to the occasion and refer this bill back to negotiation. The President has no option but to be at the forefront of building TRUST in this election year.

 

 

 

The Education Question.

education-text

A story is told in ancient China of a renown physician who was extremely good in his art of healing. From treating Kings and Lords, to treating the common villager. Coming from a family of healers, he was one day asked by his Lord patient -that who among them in the family was the greatest healer? His answer was -that “my eldest brother sees the spirit of sickness and removes it before it takes shape, so his name doesn’t get out of the house. My elder brother cures sickness when it is extremely minute, so his name doesn’t get out of the neighborhood. As for me, I puncture veins, prescribe potions, and massage skin, so from time to time my name gets out and is heard among the Lords.”

Last week, Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary -Dr. Fred Matiang’i- released the much talked about KCSE results. Amid mixed reactions -both praises and insults. But majority of Kenyans were in agreement that it was a step forward, in the right direction, when it comes to Education reforms in the Country. For sometime now, the system has been flawed. Leading to massive injustices especially on the part of bright students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Evidenced today by little known schools such as Mugoiri girls producing an [A] student in the 2016 results.

.img_20170102_114354

So what does the Matiang’i results really mean for our Education system? Looking at it keenly, you would agree with me that the pre-Matiang’i era was a proverbial case of a fish, an elephant, and a monkey being tested on their abilities to climb a tree. But due to lack of INTEGRITY in the system, sometime the fish would climb higher than the monkey. But at least you would find all of them somehow atop the tree. How they got there in the first place, and how they were fairing on, was not a big deal. Now, in this first phase of Matiang’i era, the same fish, monkey and elephant were tested on their abilities to climb the same tree. But since Matiang’i had pumped in some INTEGRITY into the system, only the monkey was able to climb up. The fish and the elephant are still down on the ground. Does this now mean that the fish and the elephant don’t  have their unique abilities? What if the monkey also had capabilities to entertain humans in a circus and wanted to be tested on that as opposed to just climbing a tree?

At the time of the release of the 2016 KCSE results last week, some Kenyans took to Social Media describing how ‘academic dwarfs’ can now find their space in the Arts instead of ‘dubiously’ trying to squeeze in into the field of Medicine and the Natural sciences. Now this is where majority of us are not getting it right! A great response was given by Magunga Williams on the same. And I believe in the spirit of shaping the content of our education sector, more and more responses need to be heard.

Let me first start by comparing two Countries -the USA, and South Korea. In terms of literacy levels, the USA, thanks to her education system enjoys very high levels of literacy. Close to 99.99%. South Korea also enjoys high levels of literacy at 97% -not as high as the US. But on the other hand, when it comes to the VALUE the education system pumps into the Society, South Korea comes in top as the US goes straight up to position 14 with a number of Countries between them.

What VALUE does education pump into the respective Society? Remember South Korea is today impeaching her President due to influencing tendering processes through her friend. The Educated population knows that tender influence leads to corruption due to kick-backs, which in turn leads to high costs of doing business, leading to high prices and low purchasing power, leading to reduced savings, and reduced production. And since they are not ready to slide back into a third world Country, those educated folks push for the impeachment of their President without butting an eyelid. That’s the VALUE of education. Which unfortunately, is still uncommon in the Kenyan setting with so many [A] students.

As opposed to just producing numerous A’s, a VALUE based system focuses on how an individual who goes through it produces solutions to existing societal problems. But more fundamentally, discovering which skills this individual posses and what problems can they  be prepared to solve?

Myself, going through the 8-4-4 system, I was a straight [A] kid right from nursery. Other than that, I was also the so called “all rounded” kid. Good in books, in sports, in extracurricular activities, and also -to put the icing on the cake- a ladies man. Joined a science oriented Giant high school due to my ‘lethal’ mathematical capabilities. But in a split second, failed to score a straight [A] in my KCSE. A phenomenon that up to now I’ve not been able to quite comprehend. Shuttering my dreams of pursuing an engineering course.

But as fate would have it, I ended up in the Arts -pursuing a course in which I was -and still is- so passionate about- Political Science. Wearing a thick skin and turning a deaf ear to all those dwarfism sentiments. And what really made it worse is that you would find folks, who prior to KCSE, who had never defeated you on any other platform before, shouting the loudest -But I digress.

What’s important here, ladies and gentlemen, reverting back to the story of the Chinese Physician, he did not claim that he was the better healer as compared to his brothers -nor did he deny that indeed he was. But he simply expounded the VALUE and skills each one of them independently had. Therefore, a good Education system should seek to identify skills that the students have, giving them wings to explore their strengths, and at the end, pumping VALUE additives into the society.

I remember back at the University of Nairobi when the Arts students elected me to Chair the Arts Students Association, and by default represent them in the Faculty of Arts Management Board as the only student amidst Professors. I tried to raise this issue of Education. That, was it fair for so much skills and talent to pass through the Education system without being tapped into?

In conclusion, since Kenya’s Economic backbone is agriculture, an Economics student should learn that he/she needs an agriculture student, as much as they both need the IT and engineering students who are trying to improve agricultural technology. But above all, the Education sector should modernize in such a manner that these four student skills are nurtured from a very early age.

But it is not caste in stone that Kenya’s backbone has to be agriculture, it can as well shift to the Creative economy, which today globally is a multi-billion dollar industry. Nigeria is doing it well, and so can Kenya.

Allow me to finish off by paraphrasing the words of Socrates, that as the doctor cures the body, so does a philosopher cures the mind. 

2017 Elections and the Cost of Sustainable Peace.

It is more difficult to organize a peace than to win a war; but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not organized.  Aristotle

kenyan-flag

71 years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the Sky and the World was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a City, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the ability to destroy itself -These were the words of US President Barrack Obama in his speech when he made a historic visit to Hiroshima Memorial park early 2016 during the International Community’s commemoration on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The happenings 71 years ago marked the beginning of the end of the second World war. But apart from that, Japan as a Country experienced tremendous shifts in her Politics, Geopolitics and Socio-politics. A Country -before then- so much deep seated in Militarized Politics and dictatorship, has today emerged to become one of the most peaceful Nations- with a people who tend to be very polite and who constantly seek consensus rather than domination. Relying on carefully cultivated rituals to lubricate their relations with each other.

At the time of this commemoration early in the year, I happened to be part of a panel discussing Kenya’s National Values and Principles of Governance -as stipulated in article ten -at an event in Kenyatta University School of law. Focusing on how young people in Kenya can lead the transformation to prudent leadership -A leadership that gives room for development, individual well being, as well as sustainable peace. My argument was simple -anchoring it to the historical happening in Japan. That, among other measures, the people themselves revisited their Nation’s foundation – the base on which the structures of their Nation should rest.

Kenya is today 8 months shy to the 2017 general elections – and the conversation already taking shape is on PEACE. The fear being that 2017 might experience both inter and intra ethnic unrest -NCIC cautioning on more of intra due to the devolved nature of resources.

This thus leading me to my trying to dissect the question of -not just peace- but sustainable peace -today, 2017 and beyond.

Kenya, just like a number of other Countries around the World, is yet to invest in resolving conflict in the long term -and thus the result being a recurring fear of both pre and post election tensions -every five years.

Why so?

Looking at the aspects of Positive peace versus Negative peace, Kenya has invested in the latter. Negative peace is simply the art of avoiding large scale physical violence. Irrespective of whether the issues that would otherwise bring about the violence are addressed or not. In this, you simply manage conflict just before -or during an election. If things go south, quickly look for conflict resolution mechanisms. Africa as a whole is very notorious in this, and is today perfecting the culture of peace deals -Just get two tribal chiefs to share power, and everyone is happy. right? Until new tribal chiefs show up and rewind the script.

On the other hand, positive peace delves into the root causes of unrest, uprooting the conditions responsible for conflict, and planting conditions necessary for sustainable peace. Generally, these conditions are generated by the people themselves. Choosing how to lubricate their relationships. The people refuse to accept that peace should be the absence of conflict, but rather, a holistic well-being of they the people, as well as putting right and just structures in their own society. A route pursued by the Japanese 71 years ago, or closer home, by Rwanda 22 years ago.

With negative peace, conflict can only be managed -until the next election. Or resolved when things go south. But with positive peace, conflict is transformed.

How then can Kenya cultivate Positive peace, and what will the real cost be?

The general agreement is that sustainable peace is not the absence of conflict, but the uprooting of vulnerabilities. Among the vulnerabilities in Kenya’s context today are poor governance, corruption, ethnic prejudices, growing unemployment and under-employment levels, voter apathy, weak education content, rising poverty levels, youth dissolution, among others.

All these calling for the revisiting of Kenya’s foundation by the people themselves. What foundation is the structure Kenya resting on? Is it transparency, accountability, integrity, inclusiveness, equality, non-discrimination, human rights, rule of law? Or is it ethnic prejudice, corruption and sycophancy? The former set that protects sustainable peace, or the latter set that only leads to a fear of conflict every five years.

The initial cost to sustainable peace from 2017 and beyond is, and will remain individual sacrifice among the people. The sacrifice that this time round, voting will not be a function of tribal arithmetic, rather, on individuals integrity. That it is now time to enhance the foundation, so that the structure that is Kenya can remain firm,and enjoy sustainable peace.

Kenya is very ripe for this kind of transformation, the only thing needed is a clear mind, courage, and a controlled appetite. Believe me, even wanjiku in the village knows this too well. It is only that she lacks that needed courage.

If the two constituencies that matter the most, i.e, youth and women, for once look at the interest of their own -fellow youth and women- without falling prey into boot-licking the already corrupt politicians, then the stage for sustainable peace is already set. Personally, I will even encourage we, the youth, women and PWDs to vie as independents to avoid getting contaminated by the already corrupt establishments. Because if in any case a contaminated youth or woman gets elected, the baggage they will be carrying won’t allow them to remain true to serving the people. They will quickly degenerate into sycophants chanting to please their tribal chiefs.

In conclusion, Morihei Uishiba, founder of Aikido -the popular Japanese martial arts, says this in the Art of Peace. That, the art of peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehoods within. On occasion, the voice of peace resounds like a thunder, jolting human beings out of stupor.  

 

PS-  Below are two articles;

  1. On Article 10 and National Values.
  2. To the Kenyan Youth in the Politics of 2017 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Party Institutionalization: Why Kenya is getting it all wrong!

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent” – Abraham Lincoln.

jp

In the 1800s, America was looking West to expand both her territory and opportunities. And in her arrangement, was North who were majorly Whigs and the South who were the Slave owning Democrats. Expanding West meant that the Southerners could have more land for growing cotton, and this only meant that slave trade was to be expanded. On the other hand, the Northern Whigs were split between a group which was pro-slave trade and the other which was anti-slave trade.

The States joining America then, from the 1820 Missouri Compromise, categorized States as either free States, or Slave States– to maintain a balance of power between the North and South. But in 1854, as Kansas and Nebraska sought admission into the Union, a crisis loomed as some members of these States were allowed to use popular sovereignty to determine the nature of their States, which was in direct violation of the Missouri compromise. Thus, violence erupted in Kansas between the pro-slave and anti-slave Americans. Bearing in mind that some compromises had already been made while California was seeking admittance into the Union.

It is at this moment that a group of anti-slave Whigs from the North met at Wisconsin to look at possibilities of forming a new Political Party that will prevent the spread of Slavery into the Western territories. And in 1854, in Jackson, Michigan– a new Party came to life. The Republican Party- The Grand Old Party (GOP).

Now, the basis of this Party was to fight slavery, And in just one year of existence, a Republican had already been elected speaker of the Senate. In 1856, the Party made a stab at the Presidency but lost. But in 1860, they had their first President- Abraham Lincoln.

Lincon’s talking point was clear, that “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.”

Christians were roped in into this party because they viewed that Anti-slavery was not just doing what was right, but also what was Godly. And more than 150 years later Republicans are still predominantly Christians- Those who today believe that God made Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve!

So, in a nutshell, the Republican Party was formed from bottom up. And the people organized around an ideology which was “Free men, Free labor, Free soil, Godly deeds” As opposed to Democrats slavery and slave trade.

What then is the problem with Kenya’s approach on Party Institutionalization?

The Jubilee Party is soon to be officially launched under the guise of “institutionalizing” a party that will stand for an “ideology” and introduce issue based Politics for the unity of all Kenyans. Looking at the list of Political parties forming the Jubilee Party, it is only TNA that has ever declared that they subscribe to “Liberal Democracy” ideology. From URP going downwards, Kenyans have never known what they stand for.

In the opposition, it is only ODM that has ever declared that they subscribe to “Social Democracy”. From Wiper going downwards, Kenyans don’t know what they stand for.

So, it is safe to argue that if both TNA members and ODM members were US citizens actively engaged in Politics, they will most likely both be members of the Democratic Party.

That aside…..

A system of ideas and ideals which form the basis of a Society’s Economic and Political policies is what is referred to as an ideology. So, in the Kenyan context, an ideology should focus on the Economic, Social and Political challenges. For instance, an ideology should focus on ANTI-CORRUPTION. It should focus on UNEMPLOYMENT. It should focus on MARGINALIZATION- REPRESENTATION,EQUITY, EQUALITY, PATRIOTISM, UNITY.

These should be Kenya’s immediate ideals- irrespective of the academic names of list of Political ideologies. Because, if Kenyans were to concentrate on “liberal democracy” for instance, they will find themselves debating issues of atheism and LGBT- which are “non-issues”, at least at the moment. (And I’m sure even TNA that has declared subscription to Liberal Democracy will contradict itself on these issues)

Kenya’s real ideology is anchored on the Kenyan Constitution and Vision 2030. The ideals being Prudent leadership, Integrity, Equity and Equality, Patriotism, Representation, Unity, Devolution and Sharing of Resources.

Jubilee, which has been given the mandate to govern this Nation and to uphold the Country’s ideals, should simply unleash her score card on fair representation, Anti-corruption, Employment, Economic growth. These are the ideals that Kenya subscribes to. That’s the ideology that Kenyans know.

Putting together a number of Political parties to form one outfit in the name of upholding ideals yet the Government’s Cabinet and Parastatals neither meet the two-third gender threshold , nor the required ethnic representation. – While at the same time, the same members of Parliament forming this new outfit are the very ones not committed to ensuring fair gender representation in Parliament. This in itself is simply a mockery to Kenya’s ideals. –Let’s not even talk about corruption.

Just the same way, a number of individuals decided to organize around anti-slavery, free labor, God’s values and later women representation to form the Republican party, Kenya needs a group of brave men and women who will organize to uphold the Constitutions ideals to form an ISSUE BASED Political party/ parties and Systems.

The best Kenya can get out of the current Jubilee and CORD arrangements is not Institutionalized Political Parties, but Institutionalized Party SYSTEMS. Where you can talk of ONE or TWO dominant parties- irrespective of their ideals. This is not any different from the already existing TWO dominant Coalition arrangement, is it?

While as at the same time, the Republicans organized themselves from bottom up to uphold their ideals, Kenyans can ONLY realize an ideal oriented Politics the day the Citizens themselves agree to focus on Kenya’s ideals. The values as enshrined in the Constitution. – It is high time the Kenyan Citizenry stopped feigning ignorance.

The Politicians know too well that they are in a Market place, and when the buyers- who are the Citizens, want to buy mediocre, they will in turn sell to them mediocre!

Myself, as an independent who doesn’t subscribe to any current Political Party, but actively involved in Political Processes, hence submit, that the current Jubilee and CORD arrangements on bringing “issue” based Politics are purely their way of tactfully  initiating the 2017 Campaign rhetoric- nothing more, nothing less. There is NOWHERE in the World where a Government, with all the instruments of POWER, forms a new Political Party to fight corruption!- NOWHERE in the World where a Government, with all the instruments of POWER, forms a new Party to ensure fair representation!- NOWHERE in the World where a Government, with all the instruments of POWER, forms a new Political Party to ensure Government appointments are Constitutional!

So why then does the Jubilee Government insist on forming a Jubilee Party?  Believing that Jubilee Party is being formed to start an issue based Politics is being simplistic. Any serious Government- with all the instruments of Power, can achieve this without going back to forming a new outfit.

My thinking is that all these excitements are just for 2022 purposes. Boxing individuals together post 2017, and whoever wishes to leave, will thence leave as an individual- without a Party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the Kenyan Youth the proverbial 21st Century Slave?

slave

Yesterday, the world marked the International Youth Day. And as usual, all the youthful events and social media campaigns were filled with energy of the promise of tomorrow. The promise of a desired change in the world brought about by youth in various fields. The promise of future leaders and influencers at the center stage of global discourses.

But as some critics have pointed out, that these pomp and color are usually not any different from the ones witnessed the past year- and the year before…….and before. – But that’s a debate for another day.

Looking keenly at the level of involvement of youth in political discourses, in particular, the trend is a bit worrying. Take the BREXIT vote for instance. The vote to some extent was a contest between generations- The older in favor of BREXIT and the younger against. (Other than the contest between England and Wales on one hand and Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other). The older  generation carried the day with a 51.9 percent lead. But sadly, 64 percent of youth opposing BREXIT never bothered to cast a vote- Only to start generating online petitions later.

A day before the International Youth Day, a number of Kenyan youth are spotted clinging on an MP’s vehicles for 20Kms straight in hopes of receiving handouts from the MP. Of course, the election period is here with us again, and they are just trying tricks they know best.

Now this forms the backbone of my argument today. Although I had earlier mentioned about the youth in the politics of 2017 and beyond, I still feel we are yet to sincerely start tackling the elephant in the room.

Some of the realities facing youth today include mass unemployment, poverty and lack of opportunities. Some even going an extra mile to spend days on busy roads with banners containing their qualifications in the hopes of potential employers taking note. Graduates are chained in student loan debts that they might find themselves repaying for the rest of their lives.

As the environment continues to prove harsh to the Kenyan youth, they are slowly being pushed into the underground economy. Some are ready to take risks with drug peddling, some already into prostitution camouflaging as socialites, others running “massage parlors” while others making use of soft titles such as sponsorship. (According to sociological perspective, any form of transactional sex,  whether monetary or otherwise, is prostitution. PERIOD). And this, in the near future, might just end up breaking that institution in the name of Family.

Some of these circumstances the Kenyan youth find themselves in, perfectly represent the 21st Century slavery. The powerless, hopeless people left under the mercy of  the so called “Forces of Nature”- The Political and Socioeconomic forces. It is this slavery that is already at work today. Pushing the youth back into their tribal cocoons in readiness for the 2017 general elections. It is this slavery that makes one believe it is his time to receive his five year- Ksh 500 allowance to re-elect “mheshimiwa”

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has just released the subsidiary Election Campaign Financing Regulation, 2016. Which I believe is in the spirit of the Kenyan Constitution. But it is still not that convincing to indicate that a gubernatorial candidate who in his/her entire term earning approximately 60 million, is allowed to spend up to 433 million in a campaign. How?

So, if a candidate who will earn a total of 60 million decides to spend the 433million in campaign and is still elected by the youth, then those youth should forever hold their peace. They should never complain of corruption. They should never complain of nepotism. They should never complain of unemployment. They should never complain of poverty and suffering. They should forever silently remain slaves.

The youth of this Country can start by having as many as possible independent candidates in various elective offices from 2017 just to unchain themselves from tribal political arrangements. This pedestrian thought that we need two or three political parties doesn’t hold any water. We already have two major coalitions, Jubilee and CORD, what is the difference? Again, a political party needs to organize around an ideology. The Republican party in the US will for instance organize around family values, among other ideologies. You will thus find more people who subscribe to family values identifying with the G.O.P . That’s how it works!

The youth should make an effort to understand how politics play. It is not just a function of electing and being elected. They should deeply immerse themselves in trying to understand the way out of this political slavery that chains them every five years. Immerse themselves so deeply that they find themselves organizing around ideologies thus formulating strategies that will see them reduce their unemployment and poverty.

In this century, everyone should make an effort to understand and participate in Politics.

 

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom”  Nelson Mandela. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING SOUTH SUDAN’S MILITARIZED POLITICS AND THE WORRYING CULTURE OF THE REGION’S ‘PEACE DEALS’

“Therefore, the welfare of a republic or kingdom doesn’t lie in having a prince who governs it prudently while he lives, but rather in having one who organizes it in such a way that it may endure after his death” –   Niccolo Machiavelli in his letter to Prince Lorenzo Medici of Florence.

SS

 

 

5 years on, the youngest State in the world- Republic of South Sudan, is back to the state of unrest. Unrest that has characterized her history since attainment of independence of the larger Sudan in 1956. Unrest that has contributed to the suffering, poverty, displacement and death of millions of women, children and young men.

The main reason for this sustained conflict in the now 5 year old republic by the two main antagonistic factions- one led by President Salva Kir and the other by vice president Riek Machar remaining as vague as possible. But both have skillfully managed to introduce the usual ethnic card in the arithmetic, convincing the entire world that it’s a Dinka- Nuer conflict.

For starters, a brief piece of historical events will do.  

The first civil war was experienced between the years 1955 to 1972 when Southerners were demanding greater autonomy from the Sudan government. And a peace deal was brokered by the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement granting significant autonomy to Southern Sudan on internal issues.

The second civil war was witnessed from 1983 after the then president Jaafar Nimeiri attempted to impose sharia law in the country. In 1988 talks began between the government and SPLM/A- but was interfered with by a successful coup-de-tat by Omar Al Bashir who became president since then.

It is at this time that the spirit of self-determination coupled by religious and resource issues (especially in the oil rich Abyei region at the North-South border) by SPLM/A grew stronger- sustaining a civil unrest in the next fifteen years or so.

During this civil war, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army was led by the able Commander John Demabior Garang of Dinka ethnic group. But in 1991, a splinter group was formed by Commander Riek Machar- a Nuer who fell out with Garang at the time.  Riek Machar then joined forces with Omar Al Bashir forming another outfit- South Sudan Defense Forces.

But in 2002, 3 years before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Kenya between the Government of Sudan and SPLM/A, Riek Machar was able to again join SPLA as a senior commander. It was evident that Southerners quest on self-determination was unstoppable. Machar had no option but to make that move.

In 2004, there was tension within the SPLM/A leadership as rumors had it that Dr. Garang had intentions of arresting and removing Salva Kir from the leadership. At the same time there were rumors that Salva Kir intended to quit SPLM/A to chart a new political arrangement in readiness for the new Republic. Until today, they still remain rumors.

But these tensions were able to be quelled at one SPLM meeting in Rumbek before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha, Kenya in 2005. It is at this meeting that Garang and Salvar Kiir were reminded that they were the only two remaining commanders out of the seven who started the movement, and were urged to remain united so as to give guidance moving forward.

But in 2005, Dr. Garang perished in a tragic accident.


The current Dilemma in South Sudan.

In December 2013, the first civil war began in the newly born Republic of South Sudan. President Salvar Kiir had sacked Dr. Riek Machar from his position as vice president on allegations that he was planning a coup. At the same time, everyone from the Nuer ethnic group in Cabinet and in the Army were relieved off their duty.  On the other hand, Dr. Machar’s faction felt that that was simply an excuse for Salvar Kiir to justify his ethnic cleansing mission.

This leading to the formation of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- In Opposition (SPLM-IO).

The tension between the two top principles goes back to the guerilla war period- The betrayals, resentment, and antagonistic beliefs.

After periods of negotiation by IGAD, AU and other International bodies, a peace deal was agreed in the formation of a Unity Government. An ‘all-inclusive’ Government. But this formula is proving not to be the best for sustainable peace.

The formula focuses on the immediate wants of the antagonistic principals, but not on the long time needs of the great people of South Sudan.

The current tension is affecting progress not only in South Sudan, but in the entire region. Refugee crisis, proliferation of ammunition in neighboring countries, mistrust among neighboring countries. And all these slows down development of the entire region.

So which way South Sudan?

Truth remains that millions of lives have been lost. From both Dinka, Nuer ethnic groups and even outsiders.At the same time, it is evident that both Salvar Kiir and Riek Machar remain indifferent in their hard stance. And both have been able to prove that they are indeed rigid students of militarized politics.

A simple fact remains that; Salvar Kiir- a Dinka on one hand believes that he is the chosen one since he is the only remaining founding commander of SPLM/A. While on the other hand Dr. Riek Machar- a Nuer remains ambitious that he is the best fit commander to lead South Sudan to the Promised Land. This remains a recipe for disaster.

So, to have sanity in South Sudan, IGAD and EAC now need to take charge! Time for one size fits all is over. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Naivasha, Kenya was heavily borrowed from Kenya’s 2008 National Accord. Where the elites negotiate their share in the National Cookie Jar- But the common countryman is left poor, disillusioned, hopeless and easily vulnerable to pick up arms in the false hope of liberating himself.

With elections scheduled for 2018, South Sudan remains more or less a time bomb, and EAC now with the leadership of Maghufuli should walk the talk. IGAD should be firm in ensuring that militarized politics and guerilla tactics are abandoned by the two principals of the Unity Government-A Country can never be governed by military factions loyal to different masters. Especially during an election period.

Both EAC and IGAD should keep watch on the movement of ammunition in the region. And strict sanctions be imposed on members assisting in movement of these ammunition. The tragedy with arms is that they can easily proliferate borders increasing crime rates in neighbor countries or even enable the easy spill-over of wars across borders.

The ordinary South Sudanese needs to be empowered through a well negotiated strategy. This should stop being a two man- big man show, and an all inclusive approach should be sought. (For both Political elites and common countrymen)

Corruption by the Unity Government should be put on the radar by both IGAD and EAC ensuring that oil revenues trickle down to the village level to improve the economic status of the people- irrespective of ethnicity. The issue of who controls what resources should again be revisited.

External forces that mean no good to South Sudan, and by extension to the entire region, should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Individual African sellouts should also be put on the radar.

These are the times that the region need an empowered East African Standby Force to assist in peace keeping so as to present the presence of a region and not of single countries that might be viewed suspiciously.

 

South Sudan crisis is a regional responsibility- And sustainable regional solutions must be sought. Especially by the EAC which is ambitious to have a regional Political Federation.

 

 

 

 

 

National Values and Principles of Governance: What does Article 10 really mean?

Harambee

The scramble and partition of Africa inspired by the Berlin conference led to the conception of a Country-  The present day Kenya, which became a protectorate by 1895 and a British colony by 1920.

It is through this historical accident that a conglomerate of over forty ethnic groups found themselves within a territory.  A territory that treated them to punitive injustices- distorting their economic, social, cultural, religious and political order.

As a result, the periods from 1952 saw an uprising by the Natives- the struggle for independence, shaping a collective consciousness that laid the framework for a National identity. Yes, a National identity. The spirit of Nationhood had subconsciously been born. The slogan- Harambee.

Whereas a State is simply a factor of having a territory, a people, a government, an army and recognition by the international community, a Nation remains a group of people with a shared commonality, in terms of history, language and culture. Heterogeneous states such as Kenya, world over create this sense of shared commonality within their territorial boundaries. It is believed that a State consisting of a Nation of people is easier to govern as there is a common set of beliefs, values, culture and history.

And so, post independence Kenya has seen its fair share of challenges in trying to build a Nation. Many opportunities have ended up being squandered leading to poverty, negative ethnicity, inequitable distribution of resources, discrimination and exclusion on the part of segments of the Kenyan society. This has in turn led to social tensions, instability and cycles of pre and post- election violence.  All these have been as a result of weak institutions, poor governance and leadership, poor work ethics, low levels of patriotism and weakening social structures.

Several attempts have been made towards trying to correct all these, including civil disobedience, but one major attempt is the Vision 2030 road map that tries to address the political, social and economic aspects of development in Kenya- so as to achieve a middle income Country status by the year 2030. One of its recommendations was to adopt and implement a new constitution that establishes a National Values system for Kenya.

Therefore, with the promulgation of Constitution of Kenya 2010, Article 10 came to life.

But what does it really mean?

Article 10 defines the values in which Kenya is founded. It further defines the shared commonalities that bounds the people of Kenya into a common history, culture and traditions  in an attempt to define Nationhood.

It is the foundation in which the structure of a Country Kenya rests.

Article 10(2) The national values and principles of governance include-

                   (a) patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law,     democracy and participation of the people;                                                                                           

                   (b) human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized;

                   (c) good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability; and

                   (d) sustainable development.

These founding principles applies to both state and non-state actors. And the value-carriers include; family, communities, educational institutions, religious and faith based organizations, national and county governments, private sector, professional associations, media, civil society, political parties, arts, sports and entertainment sector, all persons and individuals.

Kenya is ripe for attainment of Nationhood. And the most effective way to achieve long lasting impact is by allowing as much of the process as possible to be managed by wanjiku in a voluntary and democratically self-governing associations. Wanjiku needs to wake the part of her society that is still asleep. The part of the society that is still waiting for selfish politicians to perform miracles on them.

For Kenya to actualize vision 2030, the common mwanachi needs to check whether the foundation is strong enough. The foundation as spelt out in article 10.

Is wanjiku patriotic enough to build the Nation Kenya? Is she transparent with integrity? Does she vote in leaders who subscribe to integral values? Is she geared towards sustainable development? Does she believe in equity, equality and inclusiveness?

This is the foundation that will reduce the current 46% poverty rate in the Country. This is the foundation that will counter runaway corruption. This is the foundation that will reduce the high unemployment rate among the youth. This is the foundation that will eliminate ethnic tensions and prejudices especially during elections.This is the foundation that will put more emphasis on an education system geared towards character development as opposed to academic performance. This is the foundation that will enlighten both the Kikuyu and the Luo to know that the Kikuyu need the Luo as much as the Luo need the Kikiuyu in this country.

And this foundation can only be built by the people themselves the minute they collectively become conscious of the Nation Kenya- Just the same way the founding fathers become conscious in 1952.

 

 

It is not in NUMBERS but in UNITY that our great strength lies…..Thomas Paine

 

PS:-1) National Values need not be confused with Virtues ( family and christian). In this, Values is defined as “the regard that something is held to deserve: the importance, worth or usefulness.” (Oxford dictionary definition)

2) A nation-state is a sovereign state whose citizens are relatively homogeneous in factors such as common descent. e.g Albania, Egypt, North and South Korea. So, Kenya is not a Nation-state but a Nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO THE KENYAN YOUTH IN THE POLITICS OF 2017 AND BEYOND.

imagesphoto courtesy of diaspora youth empowerment

In about 62 BC, a story is told about the famous Roman General Julius Caesar’s second wife- Pompeia– who had hosted an all girls party known as Bona Dea (The good goddess) in which virgin women were invited to be prophesied upon. Bona Dea was associated with chastity and fertility in women, thus was used as a means to preserve the Roman empire.

It is during this party that Publius Clodius Pulcher– a young controversial politician, disguised himself as a woman and gained admittance into the party. Afterwards, he was caught and taken to trial. Rumor also had it that he intended to seduce Pompeia. 

During the trial, everyone extended harsh words to Publious Clodius except Julius Caesar, who maintained that he knew nothing about those rumors. And so, Clodius was set free. Surprisingly, Caesar instead divorced Pompei due to those rumors of opprobrious behavior. His argument being that his wife “ought not be even under suspicion”

Caesar with his political ambitions as Pontifex Maximus, needed a wife “free of scandal and beyond reproach”

This piece of history thence articulates the famous adage “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”

So why this history?

The Kenya of today is a troubled Country- with a number of issues still bedeviling it. From corruption, negative ethnicity, constitutional crisis, youth joblessness, hopelessness and disillusionment.                                                                                                                                               A country which was once the envy of the East Africa region today is ranked with the highest percentage of unemployed youth.

I need not repeat that a Country which not so many years ago was placed at the center of the regions infrastructure development strategy is today abandoned  by her immediate neighbors from the North, West and South who were part of the major agreements.

A Country that tasted bloodshed close to a decade ago yet has still refused to learn, unlearn and relearn.

A Country that makes two steps ahead and three steps back with the hope of achieving vision 2030.  Alas! Do they still remember about this?

A Country that is still partisan when discussing a critical organ such as the IEBC.  

A Country that is today rampant with what we can loosely call “keyboard terrorism” There is no better word for all those who spew tribal hatred on social media. In fact, they are online versions of Janjaweed, Alshabaab and Boko Haram.

A Country where Politicians have stopped viewing the majority poor as human beings but just as mere votes. They can be sold to the highest bidder just like sacks of maize.

A major crisis that is bringing about many of the above listed is lack of a sincere, prudent leadership at both National and County level. And therefore absence of Good Governance.

Yes, our history dictates that we rapidly formed a Country but we never really formed a Nation- thus all these problems. But Kenyans and the Kenyan youth in particular have the destiny of this Country in their hands- they can reverse this.

But how?

From now, 2017 and moving forward, a leader (at whatever level) should be nothing less than Caesar’s wife- “free of scandal and beyond reproach” / “…must be above suspicion” Anything short of this is merely recycling mediocrity.

With the words of David Cameron, the “fantastically corrupt” have no space in today’s leadership- It’s the 21st Century for God’s sake.

To the young Candidates preparing for 2017, don’t just use the “Youth Card” or the “Women Card” to advance your greed. Mediocrity can be smelt miles away even in that shiny suit and a cool ride. First acquaintance yourself with the founding principles and values of our Nation. Then search your inner self to find out what really motivates you- if it’s not building this Nation, please go and farm, there are a lot of millions there.

To the masses- Individuals who in the Political Science parlance are known as the people, public, populace, commoners, proletariat, hoi polloi, the poor-  2017 gives you yet another chance to rewrite history, are you going to prove this perception wrong? Are you really a stakeholder in this Country or just a mere voter?

To those with the perception that manicured nails do not engage in politics- PLEASE- Give us a break. A devastated Nation does not know whose nail is manicured and who’s not.

Will you from now, 2017 and beyond stand up and demand that a public officer should be nothing short of Caesar’s wife?

The power is within and with you. The choice is 100% yours.

 

Let’s Make Kenya Great Again.