With the October 26th re-election now showing Uhuru M. Kenyatta with an insurmountable “commanding 98.32%” lead over his challengers (including the main one Raila Odinga who withdrew from the race) and the IEBC having “received 256 of the 264 constituency results declaration forms”, I thought it apropos to channel my inner Charles Blow.
Uhuru Kenyatta is NOT my president.
I did not support his candidacy in 2013 when he was a crimes-against-humanity suspect or his presidency after the April 2013 Supreme Court (SCOK) ruled in his favor.
I did acknowledge when he offered the Highway Secondary School student of “Otonoglo Time” fame, “full education sponsorship up to the university level” in keeping with the adage “to him that much is given, much is expected.” I also wondered whether he was finally becoming the unifier-in-chief after images of an April 13, 2013 meeting with DP-elect William Ruto and erstwhile opponents Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka showed the four men sharing a hearty laugh outside State House.
I even thought that Uhuru was actually going to tackle one of Kenya’s “original sin” – land ownership – that his father Jomo precipitated – not out of political expediency, but because the issue is the other side of the coin known as “historical injustices” which combine to form the explosive milieu against which Kenya’s socio-political and economic interactions play out.
Inevitably and sadly, Mr. Kenyatta defaulted to what I always believed he was: an incompetent less-than-compassionate politician; this as illustrated by several incidents during his term in office including:
- The incompetent handling of the Westgate Mall terrorist attack and several other attacks thereafter – including the horrific attack on Garissa University that left 147 students dead and several others injured. Instead of focusing the country’s meager intelligence/security resources on fighting extremism, the president focused them on his nemesis Raila Odinga and allowed the issue (of terrorism) to become a political football.
- His inability to forge reconciliation and national unity; instead following calls for peace and unity with shrill and abusive language that reveal a churlishness and an insecurity of someone who cannot countenance opposition.
- His hypocrisy – par for most politicians – but glaring for the man who advised Raila Odinga to petition the Supreme Court if he felt aggrieved by the 2013 election results only to become apoplectic in 2017 when the shoe was on the other foot.
Mr. Kenyatta’s tirade against Chief Justice David Maraga, along with the other 3 justices who voted to annul the August 8 vote was particularly worrisome as was his sense of entitlement and self-righteous faux indignation. Interred in the president’s dark “we shall revisit” line was a threat against the independence of THE institution at the foundation of the country’s legal underpinning and legitimacy; that “.....the country has ‘a problem’ with its judiciary that must be fixed,”. In so intoning, Mr. Kenyatta knowingly or otherwise, created a backlash against the courts and using his thumb, tilted the scales of justice.
It did not surprise many when the maligned and besieged Supreme Court was forced to cancel the October 25th sitting of the justices to hear a case that sought to block the October 26th re-election for the presidency. This CJ Maraga did because the court “lacked quorum”. Forty-eight hours before CJ David Maraga cancelled the hearing, an unknown gunman shot and injured the official driver of the Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Philomena Mwilu. The shaken and terrified Deputy CJ cited the incident as reason for missing the important hearing.
As those charged with overseeing the elections, the commissioners of the Independent Elections and Boundary’s Commission (IEBC) came face-to-face with the threatening and murderous win-at-all-cost ethos of Kenya’s incumbencies. Dr. Roselyn Akombe, one of the commissioners fled to the safety of her second now-main home America. This after she, along with members of her family, started receiving threats of bodily harm. Dr. Akombe’s flight to safety came three months after the acting Director of ICT Chris Msando was brutally tortured and murdered by unknown assailant/s.
Uhuru Kenyatta certainly learnt from the best – his father Jomo and his mentor Daniel Moi. Jomo Kenyatta was implicated in the intimidation and assassinations of political opponents as was Daniel Moi. To wit, more than two years after the controversial businessman Jacob Juma was murdered, this after making some serious accusations against Deputy President William Ruto, Kenyans are still waiting for the government to update them on their investigations to “get to the bottom of the ‘cowardly’ act”. So the idea that a government headed by two former crimes-against-humanity suspects will leave no stones unturned unearthing whoever was behind the targeted hit job on a vocal critic is simply laughable.
At the risk of conflating events, across several generations, Kenyans still do not know who the “big man” behind the assassination of Tom Mboya is. The country also does not know who killed JM Kariuki or Robert Ouko – and this is just a handful of persons who met their demise during the regimes of Uhuru’s father Jomo and mentor Moi.
So No, Uhuru Kenyatta is not my president. To paraphrase Mr. Blow once again, I respect the presidency. I, however, do not respect the man who has occupied said office the past four years.
I tried, holding my nose shortly after he “won” in 2013, but the odious stench of his incompetence, lack of accountability and hypocrisy proved too much to bear. There is something utterly venal and blasphemous about a call to “prayer” and for “forgiveness” by individuals who have invariably remained silent, perpetrated and/or cheered on the violent abuse of fellow humans.
I won’t even discuss the disappointment and sense of betrayal most Kenyans have had with America, Britain, European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU). Their collective silence and prevarication in the face of blatant abuse of human and civil rights of protesting civilians, some as young as 6 months old, has only been superseded by their predictable blathering vacuity and empty pronouncements.
I don’t know what the future holds for the country of my birth but I hope cooler heads prevail. On the other hand, Kenya’s past has been her prologue and her four presidents have each lived up to expectation as corrupt, selfish authoritarian ethno-chauvinists.
My thoughts are now with inhabitants of Nyanza and Western Kenya who have borne the brunt of a violent response by a militarized police force supported by a ragtag blend of the para-military General Service Unit (GSU) and the previously-outlawed ethnic militia Mungiki group. Ironically, not too long ago in 2007, the shoe was on the other foot and at the time, many Kenyans said, “Never Again”.
Sadly, almost predictably, “Never Again” has now become “Not Again” in 2017.
The late George Saitoti presciently opined that “Kenya is bigger than any one of us” and as much as I abhor what has happened over the last four years and utterly detest what has happened over the last 6 months, let me force out a point Charles makes in his article:
Kenyans and the region need a peaceful and stable nation – to mitigate to some degree – the amount of damage its current trajectory portends.
The daunting challenge, at least for me, will be to support someone who seemingly refuses to learn from his brush with the International Criminal Court and has remained silent even as the forces he commands snuff out several lives including that of Samantha Pendo, Stephanie Mora and Mike Okoth whose only fault was being home from school because his parents could not afford his tuition.
Again channeling Charles Blow one last time, Kenyans must challenge Mr. Kenyatta and remind him that his duty is to serve and to protect ALL Kenyans.