Investigating A High Profile Murder in Kenya: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Where have Kenyans seen this script play out before?

A prominent Kenyan mysteriously disappears. The unfortunate victim is "found" dead a few days later and the dark theater of the absurd begins.

In this latest episode, the wife of the deceased (Jacob Juma) finds out about his death, not from the authorities, the "Utimishi Kwa Wote" crew i.e. Kenya Police. Nope! Ms. Miriam Wairimu finds out that her husband is dead from the other parents -- the following morning -- as she is dropping off the now-fatherless children at school.

The vivid display of incompetence and lack of sensitivity prompts the authorities to start the tried-and-true tap dancing routine designed to assuage a skeptical and divided public. The authority's spokespersons hem and haw their way through information that is at once damning to the (reputation of the) deceased even as it reveals investigatory storylines AND timelines that simply do not add up.

From the get-go, the crime scene is so compromised that any meaningful recreation of the crime is rendered virtually impossible; at best suspect. The compromised crime scene is followed by a concerted effort by a government with a known history of complicity in assassinations of its critics -- real and perceived -- to malign and tarnish the image of the deceased. It is a strategy designed to deflect responsibility, confuse the investigations and ultimately, provide cover for the real culprits.

So in this latest incident, Jacob Juma has become a "controversial" figure who had "many enemies" -- a characterization left hanging even as it morphs into a Rorschach Test of Kenya's political and ethnic divide. The deceased is now "a womanizer" or in parlance de jour, a "sponsor" who may have run afoul of a jilted lover or angry spouse. Mr. Juma was a "litigious braggart; a loud-mouth who had it coming; maybe a victim of a business deal gone awry".

And the piece de resistance in this Kabuki Theater?

The inevitable but predictable disappearances of key witnesses and pieces of evidence amidst deafening silence by a government desperately trying to exculpate itself from complicity; one whose principals are negatively and prominently mentioned in the social media accounts of the deceased.

All that is yet to happen is formation of a blue/white/pink panel of "eminent personalities" to investigate the "sad, tragic and untimely death of a true son and patriotic Kenyan". Oh, and the questioning of Mr. Ruto; a verifiable "person of interest" based on Mr. Juma's tweets and FB postings.

Not surprising, the foregoing red herrings and conspiracy theories are floated out with a Donald Trumpesque alacrity that allow sections of the public to take their collective eyes off the ball; away from the main questions:

Who killed Jacob Juma or Tom Mboya or JM Kariuki or Robert Ouko or Pio Gama Pinto or.....?

And Why?

It is a question that becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible to answer thanks to a contaminated crime scene, missing and tampered evidence, missing and reluctant witnesses and fading memories of the remaining ones.

Collectively, the foregoing factors combine to give the prime suspect/s including "the big man" cryptically singled out by Tom Mboya's alleged assassin the cover of plausible deniability. There is then the executive fiat that expunges any incriminating findings from the final report as allegedly done by Jomo Kenyatta when culpability of JM Kariuki's death singed his trusted aide Mbiyu Koinange. Finally, when all efforts at cover-up and obfuscation fail, there is the executive mallet with which to hammer the commission of inquiry into submission terminating its operations BEFORE it releases its final report as was done on November 26, 1991 to the Commission of Inquiry investigating Robert Ouko's death.

The names listed above are just a few of the prominent Kenyans who have died under mysterious circumstances; circumstances that implicated the ruling government of the day. Some may take umbrage on the brevity and/or perceived bias of the list. Feel free to add the names of (prominent) Kenyans who in your opinion should also be on the list.

I will offer that the trajectory of their death and the events thereafter will mirror, in some way or form, those now playing out in the wake of Jacob Juma's death.