AFRICA REVOLUTION SERIES part 2: Tribe, Religion, And The Petty Middle Class Dictator

Incisive as always! Great read!

NAKED CHIEFS

BY NOW we have all heard enough stories about “Africa Rising”, and how more and more Africans are growing rich and being pulled out of poverty, although the number of very poor is still sinfully too high.

And in “AFRICA REVOLUTION SERIES part 1: What Bricks, Mortar, Yams And Cellphones Have To Do With It”, (http://nakedchiefs.com/2013/06/10/africa-revolution-series-part-1-what-bricks-mortar-yams-and-cellphones-have-to-do-with-it/) we noted a contradiction:  That while the economies of many African countries are improving, and the middle class is surely beginning to expand as evidenced by, among other things, the new suburbs with their fancy bungalows and apartments that are mushrooming everywhere, its politics is lagging behind.

There have been some cosmetic changes, for sure. There are, for instance, hardly any military dictators who eat their opponents’ livers (except perhaps Equatorial Guinea’s ruthless Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo), but critics are still exiled or imprisoned in most of Africa. The “good”…

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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.