"I'm riding a tiger, hoping that the monster will not devour me" -- Chief Justice Willy Mutunga
"Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!" -- Lady Macbeth Act 5, scene 1, 26-40
The cold-blooded and clinical murder of Jacob "JJ" Juma, a businessman described in equal parts as "controversial" and "a fierce critic of the Kenyan Government" harkens a darkness that while worrisome, is not wholly unexpected given the suspected actors -- Kenya's rich and powerful -- and the stage -- Kenya.
Equally unsurprising is the fact that the guilt of yet another high profile life needlessly lost under suspicious circumstances has not prompted a critical mass of Kenyans to demand answers and a more civil less violent public discourse. If anything, reaction to Mr. Juma's death has rekindled the deep toxic partisan and tribal animus that has pervaded Kenya since its independence but now more so than ever.
To some, the late businessman is now a "martyr".
To others, JJ "was another stupid ODM (Orange Democratic Movement -- Kenya's Opposition) thug silenced because of his arrogance and sheer foolishness" as one commenter on Mwakilishi, an online newspaper for Kenya's diaspora community, callously put it.
As someone who has lost an extremely close family friend to the very type of violence that ended Jacob Juma's forty-something life, my thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. May the Almighty give them strength during this painful and trying time.
As a critic of the Government of Kenya, especially its first and current one, I am shaken but unbowed. I have embraced the reality that there are risks associated with speaking out, publicly and vociferously against gross misdeeds and malfeasances, especially those implicating the very rich and very powerful. What has made this exercise even more risky in Kenya is that some of the misdeeds and malfeasance can and have been corroborated:
National Youth Service (NYS) Scandal, Eurobond and land-grabbing (Weston Hotel - Langata) are three such misdeeds and malfeasance implicating Kenya's rich and powerful that Jacob Juma repeatedly talked about and apparently had insider info on.
Fortunately, or unfortunately for the perpetrators, in this era of social media and electronic (SMS, Emails, Phone Records) foot and fingerprints, one can run or literally kill a potential victim. However, they cannot hide or erase the evidence. Mr. Juma's social media pages (Facebook and Twitter) are a homicide investigator's dream (and a murderer's nightmare) replete with names, dates, locations and time-stamps.
Similarly, one can stage-manage a crime scene. They can contaminate or allow the contamination of evidence but the laws of Physics -- motion, momentum, velocity, ballistics, fluid dynamics/mechanics -- cannot be contaminated, distorted or altered. The bullets that felled JJ have their story to tell as does the blood that oozed from the fatal wounds. Likewise, the Mercedes Benz he was traveling in will chime in with its own accounting of the day's events.
In his article "Extrajudicial executions have no place in State ruled by law", Daily Nation's Macharia Gaitho groups the current Government of Kenya alongside the Who is Who of organized crime -- American/Italian Mafia, Chinese Triad, Japanese Yakuza and Russian Bratva -- in how it identifies traitors (perceived or otherwise) within its rank and "silences them for good".
Unfortunately for President Kenyatta and his supporters, the narrative that his government is akin to an organized crime outfit was given credibility by none other than the country's Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Those cheering the murder of Mr. Juma are tangentially cheering the actions of a government that, to paraphrase its Chief Justice, "has never been as corrupt as it is today."
The soon-to-retire CJ went on to point out that the "influence of the cartels (within the GoK) is overwhelming.....(that) they are doing illegal business with politicians."
Finally, Mr. Mutunga warns that if Kenyans "do not fight the cartels, (they will) become their slaves (and) leaders who do take on the cartels must be prepared to be killed or exiled." I will concede that there were valid concerns about Mr. Juma's approach to "taking on the cartels"; cartels that Mr. Kenyatta himself alluded to in the many speeches he gave regarding corruption in his government.
However, and as succinctly stated by Mr. Gaitho, "nobody had the right to try, sentence, and execute him (Jacob Juma) outside the judicial process."
René Lodge Brabazon Raymond aka James Hadley Chase was partly right: The Guilty Are Afraid. That is why they seek absolute and permanent silence of those who know their secrets.
While those riding the tail of the (corruption) tiger risk being devoured i.e. silenced permanently, as pointedly characterized by Mr. Mutunga, the stains of Jacob Juma's blood, like those of King Duncan, Lady Macduff and the other characters murdered at the behest of Lady Macbeth, will never be washed or wished away by the perpetrators or their supporters.