Kenya has been abuzz since Chief Justice Willy Mutunga revealed that he had received a threatening letter – and further expressed concern that there appeared to be a systematic ongoing attempt to intimidate the Judiciary and impair its ability to effectively perform its functions as bestowed by the Constitution. Various opinions, many as passionate as they were irrational, were shared on Dr Mutunga’s revelation – covering everything from the likely validity of the letter, through who may or may not have written it, to the wisdom of the CJ calling a press conference on the matter.
But this buzz did not last long! It was almost immediately replaced by something more exciting; something infinitely more appealing to our seriously sick national psyche; something more in keeping with our most primitive and primordial instincts; something that even the most intellectually challenged, socially inept and behaviourally challenged citizen could comment on with absolute authority! I am talking about the ethnic (or should I say tribal?) composition of the National Security Advisory Committee – the body that met post-haste to discuss the threats to the Chief Justice and craft counter-measures in view of those threats.
It is a fact the members of the National Security Advisory Committee are all Kikuyu except one. They are the Head of the Civil Service Mr Francis Kimemia, the Attorney-General Prof Githu Muigai, the Permanent Secretary for Provincial Administration & Internal Security Mr Mutea Iringo, the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Mr Thuita Mwangi, The Chief of Kenya Defence Forces General Julius Waweru Karangi, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Service Maj-Gen Michael Gichangi, and the Inspector-General of Police Mr David Mwole Kimaiyo. Mr Kimaiyo is not Kikuyu, but amidst the madness of the last few days, and probably based purely on a misinformed xenophobic evaluation of his name, some of our brilliant countrymen have declared him to be a Kikuyu too!
There have been smartass comments like the NSAC meeting can be conducted in the Kikuyu language, and I am sure we shall shortly see all sorts of smartass elaborations of the acronym ‘NSAC’ that link it to the Kikuyu people and/or the Jubilee Alliance that is seen as the Kikuyu vehicle to the (‘undeserved’) 4th Presidency of the Republic!
What is it Kenyans expect of the NSAC? I’d say that we expect that the Committee will perform its functions in accordance with the provisions of the law, both letter and spirit. We expect that in offering advise to the National Security Council, the Committee will do so in utmost good faith and in the absolute best interest of the country and all its people. Does the ethnic composition of the committee in and of itself preclude the Committee from performing these functions? My answer is a resounding NO! What would preclude it from performing these functions would be if it were stuffed to the rafters with spineless, clueless, radarless, shortsighted, callous, unprincipled and generally substandard human beings!
The Constitution of Kenya, amongst many other provisions, makes the following provisions on National Security – specifically applying to the primary security organs established thereunder:
In performing their functions and exercising their powers, the national security organs and every member of the national security organs shall not—(a) act in a partisan manner; (b) further any interest of a political party or cause; or (c) prejudice a political interest or political cause that is legitimate under this Constitution.
NSAC is a ‘derived’ administrative body not specifically provided for by the Constitution to the best of my knowledge, but it is reasonable to assume that it would be required to perform its function within the provisions made for the national security organs and the National Security Council which it is adviser to. I have keenly read a lot of the material that has been written and said on the ethnic composition of the Committee, but nowhere have I found a credible claim that the Committee has failed in its duties as defined by the Constitution or any other law that it may be subject to. What should be our concern – the ethnicity of the members of the Committee or that the Committee is effectively performing its duties? What then should be our complaint – that there are too many Kikuyus in the Committee or that the Committee is failing in its functions?
Fellow citizens I ask you – so what if the entire membership of NSAC is indeed composed of Kikuyus and ‘allied tribes’ and yet effectively and competently performs its functions? What would be so very terrible about that? What if the members of this Committee were ALL Endorois or Goshi or Daasanach – would there be such a hue and cry about the skewed composition of the Committee?
Are we genuinely concerned that the composition of the Committee does not reflect ‘the face of Kenya’ or have we merely found another crude weapon with which to bludgeon our opponents in this season of high political foolishness? Are the vitriolic remarks on this issue legitimate grievances or a legitimisation of unconscionable and pre-existing bigotry of the worst kind? Have we merely found a spotless horse on which to mount the malevolent angel of ethnic hatred and the attendant hate speech?
Let me give you a quick lesson in history. The Moi Regime ran a suffocatingly efficient and unbelievably oppressive police state for many years. The hammer-head with which this regime mercilessly pounded the people of Kenya into submission was not made of Mzee Moi’s Kalenjin tribesmen! At its peak, the Permanent Secretary for Internal Security was a Luo, the Commissioner of Police was a Mkamba, the notorious Directorate of Security Intelligence was headed by a Kikuyu and later by a Mkamba, the Chief of General Staff was a Somali, and the reported chief torturer was a Luo! On the political side, the enforcers were at various times Moses Mudavadi – a Luhya, JJ Kamotho – a Kikuyu, Burudi Nabwera – a Luhya, Okiki Amayo – a Luo, Oloo Aringo – another Luo, Kariuki Chotara – a Kikuyu, Mulu Mutisya – a Mkamba, Ezekiel Barng’etuny – a Nandi, etc. One does not need their tribresmen to carry out a nefarious anti-people agenda – there are numerous Kenyans for sale for the right price for this purpose, drawn from all our diverse communities!
And who are some of the most prominent Kenyans that have stood up to and challenged the Kibaki Establishment when it was seen to be acting against the people? We have of course had Raila Odinga and his numerous colleagues, supporters and admirers – but we have also had John Githongo, and Maina Kiai, and Mwalimu Mati, and Ndung’u Wainaina, and Njonjo Mue and Muthoni Wanyeki and many other faceless and nameless Kenyans of all ethnicities!
I reject any argument that holds that the first consideration, indeed often the only consideration, for appointment to any public position should be tribe. I reject the proposition that anybody or any institution should be judged, commended or condemned on the basis of ethnicity, and not on the basis of competence for the job or performance in the job or adherence to the laws, rules and regulations that govern the job!
I say let us skewer and barbecue Francis Kimemia if he is being politically partisan or incompetent, and let us even say he cannot lead the investigation into a matter on which he stands accused; I say let us go to court and have Maj-Gen Gichangi removed from his position if he has failed or in any way filthified the mission of the National Intelligence Service for a narrow ethnic agenda; I say let us report Prof Githu to the Law Society of Kenya and have him removed from the roll of advocates if he has become unlearned and failed to uphold the tenets of his office and his profession! Let us do all these things, but let us not condemn these officers just for their ethnicity! And above all, let us not condemn a community of over seven million separate individuals – men, women, teenagers, children and infants still at their mothers’ breast – for the real or imagined crimes of a handful of persons with whom they share nothing at all except the accident of birth into a particular socio-cultural and linguistic group. Any speech, essay or missive that does this is pure undiluted drivel which every right-thinking citizen must treat with utmost derision, disdain, contempt!