Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches…

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice. Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government. Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do. I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place. Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.In the name of God, go!”

Oliver Cromwell, dismissing the English Parliament in 1653

Africa and the ICC: Some Unsolicited Advice

A remarkably balanced and rational piece – the kind of debate we should be having on the ICC, not the self-serving hypocritical jingoistic tirades we have seen in recent times!

Justice in Conflict

Allegations that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is biased against Africa aren’t going away. On the contrary, in the wake of the victory of Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya’s recent Presidential elections, they seem to be increasingly common. Most recently, at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa this week, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared that the ICC is “hunting” Africans because of their race.

I continue to maintain that the Court is not biased against Africa, neo-colonial nor racist. Africa is not monolithic and many states continue to support the ICC and its mandate. As has often been pointed out, many African citizens don’t share the views of their governments and, in fact, would like to see them held accountable. At the same time, even if some cases that aren’t before the Court should be, no case or situation currently before the Court shouldn’t be. As Abdul Tejan-Cole writes

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They celebrate as we mourn…

This heart-wrenching piece is by my Brother Mundu wa Mindo. Indeed they celebrate as Africans put on sackcloth, sprinkle on ashes, beat their chests and mourn in a loud voice!

So Africa is celebrating 50 years, of what.. I don’t know.

In Addis they are not celebrating you and me, no. They are not even celebrating Roger Miller, Lua Lua, Abedi Pele or George Weah.

Its not Franco Luambo Makiadi, Makeba, Achebe, Ngugi Thiong’o, Soyinka, Saro Wiwa, Lumumba, Kanda or Kabaka. Its not even Tergat, Kipkeino, El-gurouj, Mutola or Bekele, no!

They are not celebrating Nyerere, Nkrumah, Mboya, Mogae or even Mandela!

They are not dining and wining in celebration of the expansive victoria, the deep Tanganyika or the salty Bogoria. Its not because of the Flamingoes of Naivasha, the elephants of Zambia or the lions of Serengeti, its not about Ruwenzori, Kilimanjaro or the Atlas, its neither about sandy beaches of Mombasa, Seychelles, Mauritius, No its not even about the Nile, Volta, Zambezi or Niger.

Its not about the worldcup in South Africa, or the rumble in the jungle.

In Addis today, they are celebrating another Africa – the bloody gold of Congo, the killer oil in Nigeria and the de-horned Rhinos in Zambia and the rotting elephant carcases in Kenya.

They are celebrating Mobutu, Abacha, Gowon, Rawlings, Gadafi, Museveni, Bashir, Taylor, Kenyatta, Amin, Mugabe, Zenawi, Bongo, Mubarak, Jose, Muluzi, Mutharika et alia!

In Addis today, they celebrate Niger Delta, Katanga, Darfur, Benghazi, Nothern Uganda, and Somalia. They celebrate human rights in Zimbabwe, press freedom in Uganda and peace in Congo. They celebrate…… Oh, Africa.

Politicizing the ICC Process in Kenya…

On May 2, Kenya’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, submitted a formal request to the Security Council seeking a termination of the ICC cases against Kenyatta, Kenya’s Vice President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang for their alleged roles in Kenya’s 2007/08 post-election violence, which resulted in the deaths of over a thousand people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands.  In the short history of the ICC, this is the first time that a government has sought to terminate judicial proceedings.  This is particularly noteworthy because, while Article 16 of the Rome Statute does allow the Security Council to temporarily postpone an ICC case or investigation when it represents a threat to peace and security, there is arguably no basis to terminate an ICC case. Indeed, the request itself, impassioned though it may be, makes no compelling argument to that effect, but implores the intervention of the Security Council nonetheless.

Unusual as this latest move is, it is not the first attempt that the Kenyan political elite have made to circumvent the ICC. On the contrary, it fits a pattern that began with a motion passed by the Kenyan parliament in 2010 calling for the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute. After that motion failed to bear practical fruit, Kenya rallied for African Union (AU) support for an Article 16 deferral. While the AU endorsed such a move, it was ultimately rejected by the UN Security Council because the ICC’s investigation posed no threat to Kenya’s peace and security.

It hardly seems a coincidence, then, that Kenya’s latest gambit in New York comes just ahead of an AU summit that will celebrate the golden jubilee of its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity. It is arguable that Kenya, as in 2011, is testing the waters at the UN and will again seek to politicize the ICC amongst African states.

As vigorous as these attempts are to circumvent the rule of law, this latest attempt, the first under the tenure of the new Kenyatta-Ruto government, appears to be one that clutches at political straws.  The spurious request to the Security Council has been made all the more suspect by virtue of the fact that Ruto almost immediately distanced himself from it, as did Kenya’s attorney general.  Kenyatta, however, has yet to follow suit and the absence of any comment from him is conspicuous to say the least.  If the letter does not represent government policy, Kenya’s UN envoy hasn’t received that message—the letter has not been withdrawn and he has made further attempts to gain an audience with the Security Council to discuss the request.

Whether it was made at the behest of the Kenyan government or on the initiative of its UN representative alone, this latest moves represents something far more troublesome than Kenya’s past attempts at skirting justice: a blurring of the lines between the accused and the state. By using the weight of the government to argue its case before the Security Council based on some vague, illusory threat that amounts to an extra-judicial request for impunity, Kenya’s political elite is seeking to frame the ICC as having put the entire Kenyan state in the dock, rather than select individuals alleged to be responsible for the worst of the crimes committed during the post-election violence.

In principle, it should be easy to dismiss the request as being without merit and the UN Security Council should not simply ignore it, but reject it outright, and in doing so articulate that impunity is the real threat to peace and security.  African government leaders should also avoid supporting this effort, recognizing that it would benefit no one but the accused, who are already afforded the right to a fair trial before independent judges of the ICC—indeed, Kenyatta and Ruto already seem very confident that the evidence against them is weak and their exoneration assured, an opinion also shared, it would seem, by the Ambassador Kamau.

What is particularly tragic though about these attempts to elude the ICC, from Kenya’s first effort to this latest, is the absence of any recognition of the plight of the victims of the post-election violence—the families of the some 1,300 killed and over half-million displaced—let alone the numerous victims of sexual and gender violence who to this day have yet to receive any form of redress or restitution and who would have been left voiceless but for the tireless efforts of Kenya’s civil society groups.  It is clear that these efforts are not being taken in their name, and the request to the Security Council signals that they have in effect been abandoned.

In a 2011 address to ICC states parties, President Ian Khama of Botswana remarked that “the irony of the situation is that these [Rome Statute] crimes are perpetrated, in most cases, by the very leaders who are supposed to protect these people. The question is, for how long should any victim be subjected to indignity and suffering while the perpetrator of the crime enjoys the protection of power?”

The victims of Kenya’s post-election violence have suffered long enough.

This piece is lifted verbatim from an article by Stephen Lamony, Senior Adviser at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and Sunil Pal, Head of the Legal Section at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, published at:

african arguments logo

Why President Obama is going to Tanzania

Insightful as always!

Chrenyan

“The good news? U.S. President Barack Obama is making his second trip to Africa, the continent of his father’s birth. The ummm… ‘other’ news? He’s not coming to Kenya. What’s that? Yes, other news. Not bad news thanks, we’re Kenyans. We don’t really care whether he comes here or not (sniff). We don’t need the West. We have other trading partners… like China. And have you already forgotten what we did to Botswana? Leave us alone with our Uhurus and our Rutos, Kenyans know what’s best for Kenya…”

The paragraph above summarizes Kenyans’ reaction to the news that Air Force One will not be touching down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during President Obama’s upcoming trip to Africa. The President’s trip is scheduled for June 26th 2013 to July 3rd 2013 and will take in Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. Undoubtedly, Obama’s avoidance of his father’s land…

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What We Must Accept In Order To Move On…

Lifted verbatim from the blog Gathara’s World, by Patrick Gathara (patrick.gathara@gmail.com): What We Must Accept In Order To Move On

It is easy to poke holes into the report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. And I’m certain many will seek do so. Journalists are, after all, a pretty cynical lot. We delight in nothing more than tearing down the edifices of officialdom and being the small axe that chops down the big, big tree.

So in the coming days, aspersions will be cast of the report’s credibility given the delay in issuing it; the infighting within the commission which dates back to its establishment; the missing signatures on the land chapter and rumours of a minority report; the contradiction of condemning impunity on the one hand and, on the other, seemingly letting off Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki despite acknowledgement of the gross violations of Kenyan’s rights that happened on their watch.

All these, and many other valid criticisms, will be levelled at the report and at its authors (I’ve done my share). And it is right and proper that they are. A report such as important as this should be held up to the full glare of public examination. However, as we do so, we should also be careful that we do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. For despite its failings, and there are bound to be many, this report is a monumental achievement for Kenya.

As we focus on the findings and recommendations of the report, we must keep in mind that it represents the first real and concerted attempt to tell an aspect of the Kenyan story through the eyes and experience of the Kenyans who lived it. The 40,000 or so statements collected by the TJRC, the largest number of statements of any truth commission in history, represent a living history of the troubled times that Kenyans have endured (and continue to endure). It is not a history that you will read in any of the textbooks that purport to teach our children about the travails of independent Kenya. And it is neither a perfect, or even complete, history by any means. It is, though, a valuable start in demolishing the walls of myth, lies and official silences that have surrounded traumatic events, and shedding light on some of the darkest chapters of our common history.

It was critical that these testimonies were recorded before memories faded and the events disappeared into the mists of time. Lodged at the National Archives, they`should provide fodder for historians seeking to tell a more accurate version of what happened in our past.

For the rest of us, it is important that we hear these 40,000 odd Kenyans and recognise that their voices are representative of countless others who remain unseen. We must strive to hear them all. Their testimonies are raw and uncomfortable to hear, but we must not turn away. Their pain is real and cries out for acknowledgement.

But more than merely listening, this report should spark a discussion, a radical and honest reappraisal of our common past, a reformulation of our national identity with the aim of fostering a fresh and deeper understanding of the ties that bind us. The discussion must not, like has been the case previously, be restricted to the ivory towers of academia. It must go on in our homes, in our schools, in our places of worship, in our pubs and in our social gatherings. The stories in the report must become our stories; the pain, our pain.

And that is only the beginning. I hope the report sparks more exploration into the events that make up our past. It would be unreasonable to expect that any one report, however well intentioned and resourced, could  capture every aspect of our history. We must keep up the effort to fully document, to borrow from Chinese novelist Liu Zhenyun, the easily forgotten tragedies that occur in places abandoned by their governments and its enemies.

Finally we should, as a nation, seek to understand how that past still influences attitudes and actions today, how present-day Kenya is very much a product of its past. We must, for example, see the common thread running through the Shifta War, the many atrocities committed by the security forces in the North East and the recent “security operation” in Garissa. We must understand the militancy of the Nyanza politics through the prism of the region’s nearly half century of political and economic marginalisation. For it only when we see these linkages that the history stops becoming a rather interesting story, and becomes a tool for refashioning our nationhood and for ensuring that we do not continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Then, and only then, can we truly and honestly accept and move on.

Scandals, lies, voyeurism and bad grammar for page views and money…

Caroline Mutoko, KISS 100 Presenter

“In a world hungry for negative news, gossip and scandal, page views are generated by catering to the lowest common denominator and the lowest, primal need in a human being. The need to be vile. In the world of social media and gossip blogs the repugnant need to the anonymously vile fuels the page views. Enter the world of lies, rumours and malice on your daily gossip blog. If you really want to know what’s behind the nasty tales you droll over daily, follow the money.

Those blogs would not exist without you and because the losers behind them know you are a closet nutcase, they make a living by feeding your need for salacious gossip about people you would never openly admit you envy and are indeed a little jealous of. Being a troll, a bully and a shallow-what-no-not is a drug habit – you’re junkie, he’s the peddler. Tsk, tsk – hold your tongue. I am not done yet.

Have I got your attention now? Good. Take notes. Gossip blogging isn’t about honest amazing stories or freedom of press as one idiot puts it. It’s about filth. What use are real stories anyway?

The truth doesn’t sell as well as lies coated in malice and just a touch of cloak and dagger. But where do they get the fodder you wonder? It’s simple. Gossip bloggers target names that make your heads spin.

Yes, yours. By and large the rumour mongers don’t care much for the people they write about, in-fact they don’t know us or pretend to – but they know that you do.

When I hear people asking of certain gossip bloggers “what’s wrong him, what’s his problem?” I laugh. It’s not him, it’s you. He knows how petty you are sitting behind your phone, laptop or PC at work.

He knows you are shallow, a closet anarchist, bottom feeder and best of all you are idle and so if his gossip blog can tell nasty stories at least thrice a week and use names like, Jaguar, Octopizzo, Julie Gichuru, Linus Gitahi, Caroline Mutoko, Raila Odinga, Rachel Shebesh, Sonko, Maina Kageni, Mutahi Ngunyi, Mutula Kilonzo et al – he knows by the very nature of who you are, you will click, read and spread.

The more page views he gets the more google ads he gets the more money he gets. He’s the pimp. You’re his whore and you perform on cue.

Wait a minute. Didn’t you know this was about page views and money?

Oh get a grip!

A few months ago the buzz names were Luo, Kikuyu, Raila, Uhuruto, Cord, Jubilee, IEBC and Mutahi Ngunyi. Before that Safaricom, Bob Collymore, Saitoti, NTV, Citizen TV.

Internationally the game is the same – Beyonce, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston… I’m sure you get the drift. The science and method to the madness is the same – write rubbish, coat it with a little circumstantial truth and whip up a feeding frenzy. They only expose our shallowness as a people. It’s gruel and pigs.

The more it stinks the more the pigs gobble it up. I know, the penny just dropped and you’re squirming. It’s okay.

So, to the nonsense that was written about the late Mutula Kilonzo – what a silly tale. What amazes me is not the nerve of the fool that wrote it, and quickly tried to cover his tracks, but the sheer stupidity of those who didn’t simply read the first line and dismiss it as crap.

Say it with me – bottom feeder. It stunk and you were drawn to it, not repulsed.

Do you know why that story thrived, ridiculous as it is – because it exposed the belly of the beast. This is who we are. Idle, myopic and without the capacity to reason.

A few years ago, when the same losers wrote nasty things about Julie and her marriage she called me. I had to actively search for the material and read it. Madness. What was interesting about that episode is how people would react the minute I dismissed it as rubbish.

You would see a flicker of disappointment even anger. They wanted to so badly believe the filth. I’m sure the army that’s been out there yelling in my defense has noticed the same.

The minute you tell them how ridiculous the whole thing is, they seem incensed. They want to believe it, they argue with you and when it seems you just might be making sense, they turn on you and attack you. Well, why aren’t you playing along? Boohoo.

But here’s something I learnt in my months of defending my friends and colleagues in media and in public office – there’s a hint of envy, an underlying need to believe that our lives aren’t as regular as they seem.

In fact in my case, verging on the boring – and anyone who can show the bottom feeders, that maybe we don’t have it all (because apparently we do) becomes an instant sensation.

Let me spare you the bile that keeps you awake at night while we’re sleeping. That person is playing to your most base emotion. The truth is a lot less glossy, less sensational and less appealing – however that’s why it will never feature on a gossip blog. Page views and money is the name of the game.

That said, allow me to take a moment to thank the gossip-peddlers. Yes, thank you. The last two weeks have been wonderful. I have never felt as loved, protected and cherished as I have since this madness began. The army that moved in to ensure I was well, protected, smiling, is larger than I could have imagined or prayed for.

I am a very lucky girl and I don’t take that for granted. The number of people who covered me in prayer and called to say as much overwhelmed me. The flowers and chocolates, the hugs from nowhere and everywhere and the sheer muscling to stand by me has been phenomenal.

To my knights and ladies in shining armour (police, investigators, journalists, bloggers, mums, girlfriends, clients, true friends and well wishers) I couldn’t thank you enough. I will never get through all the e-mails and text messages, but I need you to know I heard you and I am blessed to have you. I will pay it forward.

At some point I was worried my speaking engagements would be cancelled. Perish the thought. They are all on and still on schedule with loads more pouring in. Dear gossip blogger, Thank you for bringing the people that matter rabidly to my side, to my defense. Thank you for affirming to the listening public and my advertisers that I matter.

You have created audience numbers for me I could never have dreamed of and advertisers who are smart on the mark are jumping at the gun to get on-board. It has been awesome.

I recall telling a friend of mine, “…the people who love me and pray for me out-number the nutcases”. He snorted and said “even if there were none, there’s me. I love you and I’m here”. Enough said.

So am I upset? Yes. What upsets me is that you denied the Kilonzo family a chance to bury the late Senator with minimal fanfare. This family has no illusions of who they are or who he was and they are fine with it. What’s your problem? They know more than you do. What are you trying to show them?

I’m also upset that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye or even celebrate Mutula. The Mutula Kilonzo I knew was a smart man, a funny man and above all a very nice guy. Certain things will always stand out for me about Mutula.

He was a brilliant legal mind. He stood by what he believed and didn’t give two hoots what anyone thought. If you’re a newbie at Radio Africa you don’t know this – but Mutula stood by this organisation solidly. When the late Mutula became a minister years ago – he and Otieno Kajwang made Kiss 100 their first call and their first stop.

Mutula was also gutsy. This man fought to stop this nation from being dragged to the Hague. His attempts were defeated at Cabinet level and trashed in parliament. I spoke to him once during that time and he was gutted. He sounded winded. Perplexed. The only other time I remember him sounding so sad was when he lost his mother. His words to me “do everything for her while she’s still alive.” He lost his spark there for awhile. His mother meant the world to him.

Mutula never had an over-inflated sense of himself. I spoke to him when he was shifted out of the docket that was justice and constitutional affairs to education and the voice on the other end of the phone couldn’t have been more jovial or upbeat. Bless.

He was also an easy going guy. Earlier this year, Mutula and I had what was to be our last conversation ever. I was looking for a wheelchair for a young man in Moi University.

The only person I know who can get wheelchairs is Mutula’s son Junior. But I had lost his number. I always believed I would see him and thank him in person. I waited for the elections to be over, then I waited for him to settle into his new job as senator. I should have called right away, but I waited for the right moment –it never came. The moment is now gone, lost forever. That, now that makes me mad.

To the entire Mutula family, be well. My thoughts and prayers remain with you. To Mutula Kilonzo – Asa, Tata, Koma. I’ll come to your graveside one of these days and say farewell, but not before I do as you would have done and bury these liars.

Koma nau, koma nesa. I have work to do.”

Lifted verbatim from It’s All About Page Views And Money by Caroline Mutoko, published in The Star on Monday the 20th of May 2013.