Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Of hate based leadership and the fear factor

Last Sunday just after church, i was stopped by a police officer who claimed he had been called by someone who reported that i had taken an illegal U-turn on valley road. i told the good officer with all the words until my mouth was dry that I hadn't done any such thing. the man was adamant and insisted that i was guilty. the more i told him the more he got annoyed and resolved to take me forward. he asked for my DL and found i didn't have it,I had it at home. He then asked for my ID and noticed that i was a luo and that even worsened my case. he then went on to tell me that it was important for me to agree to the mistake so that at least he would then consider forgiving me. but I did not see how i was going to accept that. i then told him, i was just from church and that he was spoiling the good mood that i had got from church. all of a sudden the officer turned into a preacher. he explained to me over and over that the country was facing a crisis because of people like me who commit sins and refuse to repent leave alone accept. "Dont be cheated that these things are just happening. God is annoyed with Kenya and we are being punished. thats why you are seeing people killing each other, houses burning and people being shot. People like you come from church, then commit offenses and refuse to acknowledge. the man was surprisingly very eloquent once he adopted the preaching stance. i wanted badly to tell him that the chaos were directly attributed to one man called Kibaki who had committed a worse crime of stealing from the poor the only tool they had to make changes in their lives but again i thought the better of it. i did not want to stand here any longer and in any case my mouth was already feeling dry and sour. I wanted to be reunited with my ID and my car and be allowed to go! Well after taking me through the sermon, and giving me all the examples in the book, he handed me my ID and promised that the good Lord will catch up with me and punish me for the offense and for refusing to acknowledge a fault!

and the man reminded me of what everyone says about Kenyans. that Kenyans are a God fearing people and will not allow this or that to happen. I don't know what that means exactly. like i say silence does not mean peace. just as cowardice is not the same thing as politeness and as frigidity does not equal fidelity.

If they were God fearing, then there would not be this kind of corruption in the country. neither would there be so much tribalism, that certain people would not get jobs in certain places, nor get roads built nor drugs in hospitals just because of their language. And if they were as peaceful, then what would make one pick up a panga and slash a neighbor, a co-worker or even a stranger who had done no wrong?

and on top of that, i suppose if they were God fearing then they would quit involving God in their sins. after the theft, Kibaki quickly sought the blessing from church leaders. i also don't think God is punishing anyone in Kenya. I doubt if God works that way. People are doing wrong things and there is no easy escape from it all. we cant blame a superior being for our own undoings.

But what baffles me most is one: according to reports, luos in kisumu or elsewhere, never killed any kikuyu or even kisii. they demonstrated yes and destroyed many things. but they never touched the life of anyone. Luos are normally very loud people but they fear blood so they never kill. In rift valley, many kikuyus and kisiis have been killed. in fact official figures point to more than 300 people in rift valley alone. some even burned in church. What therefore baffles me then is this; Why is it that kikuyus are killing luos in kabete, juja and other places and not kalenjins who are actually killing them? why is it also that the government ordered shoot to kill only in Luo areas like Kisumu and Kibera and not in the truly danger zones of the rift valley. Is it not clear to anyone that the luo, though loud are as harmless as a frog that blows its body up to scare a bull from drinking? already, in kabete, the locals are looking for 50 heads of luos only! one senior administrator in the campus was lured to his fatal death by kikuyu workmates the other day. those guy pretending to be friends, offered him a drink in a local pub only to hand him over to his assassins.

why this hate, why this fear?

the past govts of Kenya have all lived with only one morbid fear and real hate of luos. it all confounds me since these guys are quite accommodating and rather pleasant.


  1. I very much enjoyed your blog entry; thank you! While I sympathise and agree on almost every point, one sentence stood out for me: "i wanted badly to tell him that the chaos were directly attributed to one man called Kibaki". I do understand why you and many feel like blaming Kibaki and I condemn rigging and feel that democracy has clearly been undermined by the fraud that went on during the elections.

    However I feel very strongly that we must each take responsibility for our actions. Two wrongs have never made a right, and when the retaliation is directed at innocent people it is even less justifiable. So, without absolving him from any crime he is proven to have committed, I disagree that all this can be blamed on Kibaki.

    I do share your question on where all the fear and hate comes from. My suspicion is that it comes from the so called leaders on all sides; those who pander to the fears and prejudices of their followers rather than confront them and inspire change.

    We can only hope that voices like yours can reach across the divisions being hacked into the country to quell the fear and conquer the hate.

    That doesn't mean ignoring the wrongs that are done of course. I believe however that we highlight wrongs in order to correct them, not in order to incite more hatred.

    Thanks again for your thought provoking words; keep up the good work!

  2. This is one post that Kibaki and Raila should read.

    Somewhere in statehouse:
    "Hmmm...Roocy, umesoma brogu ya Ondegre".

    I have come to admire the clarity of thought here. As most of the Kenyan blogosphere has become an insults galore, it's good to have a place where people are free to agree or disagree (respectfully).
    My take is that both Kibaki and Raila are to blame, Kibaki certainly more so, given that he started the catastrophic chain of events (or some of his lieutenants did).

    Raila has also squandered an opportunity to be the greater man and show Kibaki how the country should be run. His half-hearted calls for peaceful demonstrations are not convincing. I still maintain that Kibaki has the presidency but Raila has the power and if Raila could see that, he can effectively run this country through a well-orchestrated programme of parliamentary reforms, probably to the point of bringing Kibaki to his knees. The sooner he considers this avenue, the better for everybody. At this point in time, I am convinced that Raila & his ODM forces hold the key to a new constitutional dispensation that could save us from another Election 07 debacle.

    It may sound like conceding but time will tell.
    You rightly point out that fear factor is real and I know for sure the older generation really takes it seriously. I went to school with children from all backgrounds (tribal, economic, religious etc) and I noticed that most of the stereotypes (a crucial element in the hate game) can easily be disproved.

    For me the heroes are those Kenyans (ordinary Wananchi) who have not lifted a finger against each other, regardless of the great injustice committed. Those who have seen the sheer futility of tribe-based violence. Such restraint is what we should teach our leaders for it is clear they can teach us nothing.

  3. @annon, you know what, i keep meeting people across the divide and each one of them sounds very reasonable and human just like that officer was sounding when he started his sermon. yet the violence continues unabated. that for sure beats me!

  4. @gadafi, for sure i was surprised yesterday when ODM only visited western and K-city for the prayers yet there have been more deaths and displacements in the Rift Valley than anywhere else. yet again, Maina Kiai stands out as the only kenyan who feels the pain of all kenyans. as the only one who has at least shown solidarity with all.

    i guess its time for us to isolate our leaders and show them the way!

  5. What we had in Kenya before 27.12.2007 was civil peace according to one literature book we read in secondary school.
    God has got absolutely nothing with it, it is the free will of his creation at work and unfortunately they have chosen the slippery path leading to oblivion.

  6. I read you well thought blog. I am from NFD ( Northern Forgetten District). We well know what it means to be a the wrong end of the goverment. Because we fought to break away from Kenya in 1963 we were punished till today.Luo since 1969 ,now western,R.Valley and coast join the NFD and luoland club! What is left, let see how they manage this country. The darkest hour of night is just before dawn. Kenya is will after all is settled be the best in Africa. So let not loose hope. keep the good work.

  7. Fabby piece wuod nam ;-). However, I'm still praying / dreaming for a miraculous rise of a fresh young articulate, honest and passionate about the country Kenyan - tribe irrelevant - that'll take all by storm and gloriously lead the country come 2012...

  8. Apologizing in advance (I'm sorry).




    Ok, that's enough my ribs are beginning to hurt now. Before everyone heaps on the criticism, I already apologized and I think now that it's over, Odegle can see the funny side of this too?

    Ahem, on a serious note....you're right about it never being a good idea to get coerced into culpability (just say you did it and I'll let you go). If you didn't do it, you DID NOT DO IT, period.

    Avoid getting caught up by these greedy and heinous traffic cops because scenarios like yours usually end in 'toa kitu kidogo' (like we have not been there) or you having to make hurried phone calls if you refuse to pay and they threaten to arrest you and impound the vehicle.

    As for the pious christian/muslim/hindu in Kenya who can pray religiously on one day and behave in a manner utterly alien to his faith on another....those are most of us at one time or another, look in the mirror and tell me it isn't true?

    I agree Raila should have taken this opportunity to travel the nation, call for an end to state sanctioned killings, reassure the people that he is working toward a solution, condole the bereaved and forcefully demand an end to ethnic violence.

    But I wonder how credible he would seem given police are probably readying themselves to shot, maim and kill some more wanainchi all over the country come thursday?

    What day is it again?

    Also Odegle, didn't it strike you as odd how you focused on 'Raila needs to do X and Y' without the same courtesy being afforded Kibaki?

    Kibaki did take the time to visit and reassure the internally displaced didn't he? Did you think to ask why he chose not to go elsewhere in this country called KENYA?

    Perhaps that wasn't important.

    @gaddafi, I and quite a few Kenyans like me cannot on one hand accept that this election was marred by irregularities and illegaties of such magnitude as to affect it's outcome on one hand then turn around and legitimise that which resulted.

    @ Anonymous 9.39AM, I'm with you as one of the lost and forgotten. This club of ours was founded as the inception of our nation with it's leaders perpetuating a history of patronage, ethnic chauvinism and inequitable access and dsitribution of resources, our ranks have since grown....and contnue to grow exponentially.

  9. @ishara,
    I am inclined to agree with you on most counts. You rightly point out that there is a lot of "Raila needs to do A, B, C....Z". I submit that this is because the larger part of this country is looking for real leadership and few expect it to come from Kibaki, Michuki et al. And that brings me to the same conclusion that Hon. Raila has the real power. I suspect even the PNU fellows see this. My apologies if what I said may seem to be prompting Kenyans to legitimise the illegitimate. I would ask though: knowing that Raila is a pragmatic leader and given that it looks like Kibaki just won't budge from Statehouse, what options will achieve the most at (at the least cost)? If you are in a ring with bully who is not playing according to the rules,isn't it still possible to beat him, not through brawn and muscle but through wit and proper scheming?

    Of course, all this would not be a relevant discourse if Kibaki would just packup and change address to P.O. Box Othaya but few are betting on that!

    @xXx ~ Jac ~ xXx
    Even if it doesn't happen in 2012, real leadership is knocking on the door. Dinosaurs are counting their days!

  10. OD: At least u are "ok"... many Kenyans are not. In our Kenya a cop killing a raila supporter is not a crime anymore.

    So... did he return your ID?

    Stay safe, bro.

  11. @qadaffi,

    I'm afraid that's not good enough-possibly because I'm rather tired of these Odinga 'love your country' and 'what I need you to do' songs and what's more-for good reason.

    With tedious predictability, the intention behind the songs is either to lay disproportionate blame on either him/ODM for events growing out of gross ECK malpractice or to silence him/ODM and all others questioning the integrity of our presidntial election.

    Cronic absenteeism and illegitimacy notwithstanding, Kibaki is just as responsible for the civil unrest and resulting upheaval. In the quest for some 'real leadership' from Kibaki/PNU I would like to read and hear about some 'Kibaki love your country' and 'What I need you to do' songs in equal measure.

    As for who wields 'real power' I find that argument similarly problematic (and awash with irony!). Kibaki has the instruments of state at his disposal to use and abuse at will-why do some Kenyans then feel the need to absolve him/PNU of all responsibilty that goes hand in hand along with these instruments?

    Lauding the positive qualities exhibited by our leaders (pragmatism) is well and good, upto the point we seek to disguise latent censure and bias with overt acclaim-such attempts are easy to decipher and expose.

    What I know is that for those thinking this is just another turbulent election and it's aftermath can be quickly addressed and consigned to history-think again. You are all in for a rude awakening.

    It's already evident the politial, ethnic and economic fodder generating from this election will almost certainly drive the upcoming one in 2012. Failure to conclusively and comprehensively resolve underlying issues will mean an increase in the level/magnitude of 'turbulence' in future.

  12. OD: I feel for you man. Just glad you came out almost unscathed. This is unacceptable. I'm not sure what anyone expects to achieve with this kind of harrassment; if anything, it's just driving us farther and farther away from anyone who would sanction this kind of heavy-handedness. The most scary part is that there is nowhere to complain about this. All of those guys seem to be dancing to the tune of the same drummer. Pole man. Glad you're fine.

  13. ... am well, the man actually gave me back my ID after the sermon , he looked rather satisfied after that talking to.


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