Blogger’s note: In memory  and honour of Elijah Masinde’s anniversary, we dedicate these stories to (deepening our connection with) our ancestors, bredrin, dadas en pikney.

The Bukusu are one of the seventeen Kenyan sub-tribes of the Luhya (Bantu group of) East Africa.

Calling themselves ‘BaBukusu’, they are the largest single ethnic unit among the Luhya nation, making up about 17% of the whole Luhya population.

The other Luhya groups in Kenya are ABaTiriki, Maragoli, ABaNyore, ABaKhayo, ABaMateka, ABaNyala, ABaSamia, ABiSukha, AbiTakho, ABaShisa, ABaMarachi, ABaTsotso, ABaKabarasi, ABaTachoni, ABaWanga and ABaMarama.

Origins
The Bukusu myths of origin state that the first man, Mwambu (The discoverer or inventor), was made from mud by Wele Khakaba at a place called Mumbo (which translates to ‘West’). God then created a wife for Mwambu, a woman called Sela.

Mwambu and his descendants moved out of Mumbo and settled on the foothills of Mount Elgon, from where their descendants grew to form the current Bukusu population.

Other traditional stories relate of a place of origin called Misri, from Mizraim (Hebrew for Egypt).

Anthropologists believe that the Bukusu did not become a distinct grouping apart from the rest of the Luhya population until, at the very earliest, the late 18th Century.

They moved into Central Uganda as part of a much larger group of people, many forming the eastern extension of the great Bantu migration out of central Africa.

(See Origins of the Luhya.)

Settlement
Together with other Luhya groups, the Bukusu are thought to have first settled around the foothills of Mount Elgon. This area was already inhabited by Kalenjin warrior tribes, and the Bukusu and their neighbours had to build fortified villages to ward off the attacks of these tribes.

The first fortified villages were built at a place called Silikwa (sometimes called Sirikwa). Following repeated attacks and unfavourable weather conditions, folklore has it, a council was held at Silikwa and it was resolved to migrate south and east, where spies are said to have reported large, unsettled lands. However, a section of the population was reluctant to move and stayed behind when the main tribe moved.

Those who stayed behind are said to have become the Ugandan BaMasaaba tribe. Those who left moved into what is now Bungoma district of Kenya, to become the ancestors of the current Bukusu people.

Currently, the Bukusu mainly inhabit Bungoma district of Western Province, which is bordered by Kakamega District to the east, Busia District to the south, Mount Elgon to the north and Uganda to the west.

A large number of the Bukusu are also found in the Kitale area of Kenya’s Rift Valley province, as well as in Lugari-Malava district.

The BaMasaaba of Uganda are very closely related to the Bukusu, with many shared customs and a common dialect of the Luhya language.

Previously, the Bukusu were referred to as the ‘Kitosh’ by the neighbouring Kalenjin community, a name they despised. The reasons for this are not very clear: in some Kalenjin dialects, “Kitosh” means “people of the earth”. This could have been a reference to the agricultural Bukusu, or to the fact that they lived on the lower foothills of Mount Elgon. Following vigorous campaigns by community elders, the name Kitosh was eventually substituted with Bukusu in the mid 1950s.
A replica of a Bukusu hut at the Sarova White Sands Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

Traditional life
The Bukusu lived in fortified villages, and did not have a structure of central authority. The highest authority was the village headman, called Omukasa, who was usually elected by the men of the village. There were also healers and prophets who acquired great status because of their knowledge of tribal tradition, medicines, and religion. Elijah Masinde, a resistance leader and traditional medicineman, was revered as a healer in the early 1980s.

Family
Bukusu family structure was traditionally modelled on the generic Luhya family structure. Families were usually polygamous, with the first wife accorded a special status among her co-wives……….
Children inherited the clan of their father, and were not allowed to marry spouses from either their own clan, or their mother’s clan. The first son of the first wife was usually the main heir to his father, and he had a special name denoting this status: Simakulu.

At birth, children were usually named after grandparents or famous people, or after the weather. Male and female names were different: male names frequently began with ‘W’, while female names usually began with ‘N’. Thus, for example, a boy born during a famine would be named ‘Wanjala’, while a girl would be named ‘Nanjala’. Both names share the same root word, ‘njala’, from ‘eNjala’, the Bukusu word for hunger.

Initiation
The Bukusu practised (and still practise) male circumcision. It is thought that they adopted the practice from contact with the Kalenjin at Mount Elgon. Others argue, however, that the presence of the practice in the other Luhya tribes indicates an earlier adoption, before the Bukusu settled at Mount Elgon. In ceremonies that were spaced about two years apart, young boys of a particular age (usually about 15 years of age) would, on getting the go-ahead from their parents, invite relatives and friends to their initiation.

The initiation was a public event, witnessed by all. Going through the operation without showing any sign of pain was (and still is) thought to be an indicator of bravery. Once circumcised, an initiate became a member of an age-group. There are twelve age-groups, forming a cyclical system, with each age-group lasting for 8 years. Once the last age-group has been reached, the first is restarted, and so on. For example, the “Bachuma” age-group lasted from 1980 to 1986: every Bukusu circumcised within this period (that is, in 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1986) belongs to that age-group. In 1988, the “Basawe” age group began, and lasted until 1994.

Female circumcision was widely practiced among the Bukusu, until government campaigns put an end to the practice in the 1980s. However, some clans still continue the practice in secret. [depending on where you look at it from, it could also be that the practice died a few generations ago]

This is especially the case around Mount Elgon, where the neighbouring Kalenjin tribes also practice a form of female circumcision. [fafanua.]

Although circumcision was universal among the Bukusu, the form of the ceremony varied according to the clan. In particular, the festivities and ceremonies accompanying the final stage of initiation, when the now-healed initiates came out of seclusion to rejoin their families as ‘men’, were specific to clans, and have been handed down largely intact to the present day.

Marriage
Young men got married at about the age of 18-20, while girls got married at about the age of 16. There were two types of first-time marriage: arranged marriages and enforced eloping. If a young man came from a well-to-do family, he would ask his sisters to find a girl for him to marry. The ability of a potential wife to cook well, bear children and work in the fields were the main attractions in a girl. Once a girl was identified, an emissary was sent to her parents to ask for her hand. The girl had no say whatsoever in the whole matter: bride price would be discussed, and then once it was paid she would be sent off to live with her new husband. This form of marriage is still common in traditional households today.

In some cases, however, the young man would be from a poor family and could not afford to pay the likely bride-price. Traditional society allowed such young men to abduct the girls they intended to marry. (The girl had to present an opportunity to be ‘abducted’, so her cooperation was essential!) The couple would then leave their home to live with a far-off relative for a while, until the young man acquired enough wealth to pay the original bride price, as well as a fine, to the parents of the girl. This practice has since died out.

The Bukusu highly approve of intermarriages between themselves and BaMasaaba. This is because they have quite a number of similarities in their codes of conduct, marriage customs, circumcision traditions and even folklore. Among the most famous of Bukusu marriage customs is the immense respect accorded one’s in-laws. A lady, for example, treats her father-in-law with a lot of deference and respect, and they are not allowed to make physical contact in any way. The same is true of a man and his mother-in-law……

Cattle were very important: they were the main means of exchange, alongside cowrie shells (chisimbi). Most values, from the beauty of a girl to the price of a field of land, were expressed in terms of head of cattle. Possessing cattle wealth and prosperous agriculture, the Bukusu were sometimes not only admired but also envied by neighboring communities.

Occasionally intermarriages used to take place between them and the other communities. It was common practice for Kalenjin neighbors to give Bukusu their sons to look after their herds of cattle. In times of famine, which are said to have been frequent amongst their Kalenjin neighbors, the latter used to even sell their children to Bukusu. Bukusu also used to send their own young boys to grow up with Kalenjin or Maasai families, in some cases for espionage purposes.

Death
Being sedentary pastoralists, they had time to care for their sick and bury their dead. A sick person was looked after till he recuperated or died. When a person died, he was buried in a grave with a warrior’s weapons if he was an elder. Several functions were performed during and after the funeral ceremony. Ordinarily, burial pits ranged from 3-4 feet in depth, much shallower than today’s. Sometimes wild animals like hyenas exhumed corpses from graves and ate them. Should such an incident occur, people looked for the presumed skull of the desecrated body, and when they found it, they hung it in a leafy tree.

When the family of the deceased migrated, they brewed beer (kamalwa ke khuukhalanga) for the ceremony of transferring the skull with them to the new home or settlement. An old woman was entrusted with the responsibility of conveying the skull to the new site. Burial of the dead was thus, to say the least, ingrained in the Bukusu traditions.

Economic activities
Bukusu accounts indicate that both agricultural and pastoral economies have been practiced by the tribe for as long can be remembered. This is authenticated by the vast amount of knowledge they have about farming practices, rich pastoral vocabulary and the broad variety of legends connected with pastoral life. Today, they farm mainly maize for subsistence and sugar cane as a cash crop in the Bungoma area, as well as wheat in the Kitale area. Cattle and sheep are universally kept, cattle mainly for milk, and sheep for meat and ceremonial functions (when a sheep usually has to be offered to elders for sacrifice). Larger or polygamous families will usually have a team of oxen for ploughing and hauliage within the home. Chicken, a traditional delicacy, are nowadays reared on small to medium scales for commercial egg production.

Politics
The Bukusu currently form one of the main support bases of the governing coalition in Kenya, through the Ford-Kenya political party. Previously, they were mainly associated with opposition to the Kalenjin-dominated reign of former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Notable Personalities
Among the more notable Bukusu personalities past and present:

Maina wa Nalukale, a seer who was reputed to have foretold the coming of the British colonialists
Elijah Masinde, resistance and religious leader
Michael Wamalwa Kijana, former vice president of Kenya
Masinde Muliro, former minister and opposition leader
Musikari Kombo, current leader of Ford Kenya

References
Ayot, Henry Okello (1977) History Texts of the Lake Region of East Africa. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Barker, Eric E. (1975) The Short History of Nyanza. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Literature Bureau.
Makila, F. E. (1978) An Outline History of Babukusu of Western Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Were, Gideon S. (1967) A History of the Abaluyia of Western Kenya: c. 1500-1930. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Publishing House.

© The Wikipedia

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Elija Masinde (also spelt Elijah Masinde) was a traditional leader of the Bukusu people of western Kenya.

Early life
Born around 1910 – 1912 in Bungoma district, Masinde started out as a footballer, going on to play for Kenya against Uganda in 1930. By the early 1940s, he had risen to the rank of a junior elder within his community in Kimilili area, and became increasingly anti-colonial. In 1944, he led a number of localised defiance campaigns against the colonial authorities, and was imprisoned as a result.

Dini Ya Musambwa
While in jail, Masinde claimed to have been given divine interpretation of the Old Testament of the Bible, and proclaimed that a “Black Jesus” would come to liberate the people of Kenya from colonial oppression. When he was released, he formed a sect called “Dini Ya Musambwa” (Bukusu for “following of spirit[s] of the ancestors”), and gained huge followings in western Kenya.

Detention, old age, and death
Upon Kenya’s independence, Masinde was detained by the government of Jomo Kenyatta for almost 15 years. He had been accused of formenting religious hatred. He was released by the government of Daniel Arap Moi in 1978, and lived quietly in his native Kimilili area until his death in 1987.

It is reported that, before his death, Masinde pointed out to his family the spot where he wanted to be buried – he wanted a huge sycamore tree uprooted to make way for his grave. The family decided to bury him elsewhere, though, but were thwarted when a spot they chose for his grave turned out to be a hidden grave. They took this to be an omen and proceeded to bury him in the spot where the sycamore tree had been.

References
*Makila, F. E. (1978) An Outline History of Babukusu of Western Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Literature Bureau.
*Alembi, Ezekiel. (2000) Elijah Masinde: Rebel with a cause”. Nairobi, Kenya: Sasa Sema Publications Ltd.
http://experts.about.com/e/e/el/Elija_Masinde.htm

 

BLOGGER’S NOTE:

this post is a(nother) preview of the Q/t werd: a (real/raw en) mystic, organic, us-people driven caravan of  pan-afrikan myths, legends en our (kinda) super/s/heroes….we’re celebrating and (re) mapping the intersections of our diversity with werd! Sound! (en di) Powah! (of love)

These are some stories we know, that (not only) I heard (en read) many times before, from many different (kinda) folks,

you can do anything that you want with these hadithi, share them with others, cry about it, get angry or forget it, but don’t say you’d have lived your life differently if only you’d heard this story, now you know….

[We warn you, we have not only just begun! 😉 ]

http://www.kenyaimagine.com/Social-Issues/Literature-Blood-and-Doves.htmlLiterature, Blood and Doves
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
 As the media went into a frenzy celebrating the ‘5th Anniversary of the Iraq War’, my friend Jackie via chat asked why they were saying this like it was a happy event, like a wedding anniversary or something.We quickly came to the Kenyan situation and said next year we shall probably have our first Anniversary frenzy celebrating the post Election violence that was ethnically motivated and marked our descent into hell. Some people will actually be celebrating killing of others like it is a happy Birthday celebration. My friend aptly summarized it – “it will be warm and syrupy and Julie Gichuru will preside over the televised version on a talk show.”

But what lessons does it teach us, we practitioners and consumers of literature? It teaches us that from the roots, the development, and the eruption of the violence, literature (like other Kenyan institutions) was misused to fuel the ethnic violence. (‘Literature’ is here used loosely to mean the written, the spoken, and – as recently redefined by technology – the blogged, the SMSd, the graffitied, the rapped, the sung, the videoed.)  Literature in all the variety of its forms was abused to propagate negative tribalism and ethnocentric hatred of others, as well as misused by its practitioners, (lecturers, students, readers, editors of literary columns and internet bloggers,) to mis-interpret what are otherwise noble folktales, as well as to disparage fellow literary icons simply because they were from the ‘other tribe’. There was also the noble opposite, especially in the aftermath of the outbreak of violence, when writers and practitioners of literature used literary works and personalities in an attempt to address the violence, hatred and propaganda being bandied about by agents of ethnic hatred hiding under the veil of democracy.

The process of slanting the ideological and thematic strands in stories for political expediency was similar to the Nazi effort of the early 1930’s when the NSDAP sponsored the research and publication of folklore that had Nordic-Germanic symbols and themes of German supremacy, which they then used to galvanize the peasantry, and the population at large, in the belief that they were a pure master race. Alfred Rosenberg’s Kulturgemeinde issued in its two main journals, Kunst and Volc and Volskum and Heimadt, folktales with that intent. German Literature professors, especially in folklore, were pressured to align their research findings with the National Socialist Weltanschauung. An innocent story like Little Red Riding Hood, in the Grimm brothers’ Children and Household Tales (1812), was, for instance, turned by the propagandists of the Third Reich into a symbol of the German people, saved from the evil Jewish wolf. In this way, Adolf Hitler spread his hate against Jews, homosexuals, clergymen, gypsies, mentally challenged people, and all those not of (what was thought to be) pure German blood. In Rwanda, hate publications, stories and folktales were similarly mis-interpreted to propagate Hutu and Tutsi animosity.

Likewise in Kenya, from smoky rural huts to the Kenyan web. In one of the hate mails that circulated in the Rift Valley and on the internet, a section of the Nandi invoked the legend of Koitalel Arap Samoei, a brave son of the Nandi community, and one of the great freedom-fighters, who valiantly led the (unfortunately, seldom credited) longest resistance against the British colonialists, until he was tricked and killed by Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, after which the community divided once again. His heroism is one of the defining hallmarks of Kenyan nationhood: he proudly and honourably resisted imperialism and the oppression of a people by another. On the internet, as on the ground, however, the exploits of Koitalel were used to inspire the Nandi to rise up against the Gikuyu who had ‘occupied their land’; the Gikuyu it was alleged, were latter-day imperialists. It claimed the re-birth of Koitalel through Hon. Ruto, who shares the name Samoei name with him, urging the community to rally behind the reborn Orkoiyot. The brothers of the Nandi were urged to raise arms against the Gikuyu, ostensibly because whereas Kibaki was a Gikuyu and unreachable, they could get to his tribemates. The rest is history.

Similarly, a section of the Gikuyu, since the sunset years of the Moi regime, have rallied round the myth of Mugo wa Kibiru, a great soothsayer in Gikuyu land, who visioned the coming of the white man and urged his people to prepare to oppose the raider. The Gikuyus also invoked another legend, Dedan Kimathi Waciuri, widely seen as a symbol of the courageous struggle for Independence. With these two, united by the clandestine religio-socio-political Mau Mau movement that led the anti-British rebellion in Gikuyuland, a few young men claimed visitation by Mugo wa Kibiru, in which they were exhorted to lead the community against oppression by the Moi regime and his Kalenjin tribemates.

In the guise of returning Gikuyus to their pure cultural practices, the group widened and grew, eventually morphing into the well-organized Mungiki gang. When it was clear, according to the 2007 polls, that Mwai Kibaki was trailing Raila Odinga, and that, even among Gikuyu peasants, he was not a favourite due to the perceived favouring of his elitist moneyed friends, elements within the Gikuyu hireachy invoked tribal unity using the image of Dedan Kimathi: ‘we fought for Kenya’s Independence while they lazed around the lake’, there is no way ‘we the circumcised can be led by the uncircumcised’, it was said. Loose talk of ‘Kenya is ours’ was heard.

From Kenyatta’s speeches, where he is supposed to have told told MPs opposing his seemingly tribalistic governance that “My people drink milk in the morning, your people in the afternoon” to imply that former had a right to the cream of Kenya’s resources, such proverbs, and metaphors were used to spite other communities. Modern metaphors were dragged into the fray, equating the murderous mission with Christian evangelism. In an interview with Dennis Itumbi of AfricaNews, posted on kalenjin.net, a Mungiki leader (who studied at Kangaru and Mangu high schools, did a BA in Philosophy with a bias in (Religious) logic at the University of Nairobi and a Masters Degree at St. Paul’s Theological College in Limuru specializing in African Theology), a Mr Mathenge aka Mnyama, says Mungiki is “political and religious. Look when Jesus came on earth he said he was the King of the Jews. That is political. Then he said he has come to restore salvation. That is religious and that is our mission. You don’t even need to ask that question. Remember the recent meeting in Michuki’s office. Why were these politicians meeting?”  The rest is history.

Among the Luhya, particularly the Bukusu, one of their freedom fighters and legendary icons, Elijah Masinde, was invoked. The Bukusus, in an apparent bid to make them ignore the dangling of one of their own, Musikari Kombo, by Kibaki as a possible future president once Kibaki had served his full term, were reminded of a prophecy uttered by Elijah Masinde to the effect that ‘The throne would only come to Bukusu land through the path of the lake’ i.e., only Raila, being from the Lake region, had the duty to serve as Kenya’s president and pave the path to a Luhya once he retired, a fact hammered in by Raila’s choice of Mudavadi, a Luhya, as his running mate. What followed was major battle, with the differing political groups trying to outdo each other in the ‘best interpretation of the Elijah Masinde prophecy’, a resuscitation of Bukusu folktales urging caution against the Barwa (Nandi enemies), the Mango myth of Circumcision as well as Maina Wa Nalukale’s tales of Bukusu supremacy over the Luhya nation. It all culminated in a tussle of comic proportions when each group visited the grave of the legend to pay homage, donating blankets and other goodies in efforts to appease his spirit and counter the other groups appeasing efforts as a sacrilageous soiling of his name. All this for a man who, until last year, was largely forgotten in Kenya’s history outside Bukusuland.

Instead of literary scholars laying bare the selfish manipulations of these folktales and icons for political gain, they jumped onto the bandwagon, dropping their PhD  degrees and pamphlets of scholarly research to prove the rightness of whichever group they supported. Professors of literature attacked each other’s credibility on the basis of their tribe of origin. A major casualty, of course, was all those amazing works that were being done on the Mau Mau history. Suddenly, Mau Mau was collateral damage in the war for and against Kibaki. It was no good talking about it in serious forums. It was just a Gikuyu peasant war that had nothing to do with Kenyan History. No, it was the best example of we Gikuyu fighting the white man and now you want to say we can’t rule this land we shed blood for, so please write it and garnish it with sentiments of how grateful Kenya has to be to our tribe. Literary critics led the interpretation of literary works to discredit opposing tribes. An example is one review that was an unfortunate attack on an 80-year old peasant man who had slaved for over 28 years handwriting his memoirs about his life in detention, Kizuizini (Detention life), a Swahili book which I personally edited and researched at the National Archives to verify its credibility. (I am not Gikuyu so had no tribal allegiance). Despite it being a rich source of information about our history, one self-appointed ‘leading’ critic termed it ‘fiction’ saying that since the old man had a line which he said ‘we fought the white man because he had taken our land, and we wanted it back since it was given to us from the days of Gikuyu and Mumbi, our forefathers’ and since he later goes on to regret that ‘what we had fought for in Kenya, we never really got it, since those who supported the colonialists went on to grab land while many were left landless’. A noble book was dismissed as Gikuyu propaganda without proper consideration, simply because it was written by a Gikuyu; truly a case of a book caught in a war not of its own making.

It was also fashionable to dismiss Ngugi Wa Thiong’o as just another beneficiary of Gikuyu elevation. Years ago, when I was still a young brain, easily influenced by his egalitarian Marxism, a post-graduate student of high repute in the Institution I was at lashed out at Ngugi during a Black American Month symposium, stating that he was to blame for inventing the Mungiki Sect through The River Between; it had propagated the return of certain Gikuyu customs. I wrote a bitter defence in The Standard’s Literary Forum, arguing that those who founded Mungiki probably hadn’t even read the novel, and anyone who had read the novel could see that nowhere did it advocate beheading of people as a Gikuyu cultural norm. The defence sparked a barrage of hate replies and counter-replies which degenerated into tribal name-calling, after which the editor slammed shut the debate. Fast forward: Ngugi returned to Kenya after his self imposed exile; many read it as the beginning of a wider scheme of Gikuyu glorification, forgetting the return of Ali Mazrui and other fire-brands who had been demonized by the Moi Government. When the unfortunate attack on Ngugi and his wife happened, numerous emails circulated celebrating the fact with sneers of ‘The Gikuyu hyenas, look how they even eat one of their own.’ When the post-election violence broke in December, Ngugi’s remarks that some scenarios were similar to what he had written in his block-buster novel, The Wizard of The Crow , were angrily sneered at. It did not help when Ngugi wrote a pre-lection commentary concerning his impression of Kibaki, based on the three occasions they had met. The first rejoinder to that article was an attack on Ngugi claiming that he had proven that he did not think any president fit to lead Kenya unless he were Gikuyu. That article was circulated largely to discredit Ngugi as a Gikuyu apologist.

Even the new generation of writers were not averse to attacking each other on tribal bases. Some publishing houses were accused of being slanted towards publishing people from their owner’s tribal region and neglecting others in total disregard of the merit of their works. Whether that is true or not is debatable, but what is true is that the perceptions  that such and such a publishing house publishes only such and such tribes were there.

Literature had squarely entered the fray of tribalism, becoming as divided as all the other institutions which had been looked upon to deliver us from this evil: The Kenya Electoral Commission, the Judiciary, The Press, and the Church. You read or misread literature and, especially folklore, according to your tribal spectacles.

There was intense rejuvenation of folk tales that portrayed the Kalenjin and the Nandi as fit only to herd cattle. The famous story in which a cow was given to a Luo, a Gikuyu and a Kalenjin, did its rounds. The Gikuyu, it is claimed, zero grazed it, pampered it by planting and cutting napier grass for it, and it gave the best quantity of milk (to say Kibaki’s economic boon). The Kalenjin grazed it all over the land till he eroded the soil, and the cow gave a meager quantity of milk (a comment on the 24 years of Moi rule and the harsh economic times in his sunset years). The Luo, it was said, was too lazy to graze a cow day in and day out, so let it wander as he sat in his hut, knowing that whenever he needed food, he could walk to the lake, fish, eat, sleep and then go fish again when he felt hungry. This, you can guess, was spread by Gikuyu people. It was countered with numerous stories in print and oral narratives of stories with the motif of Gikuyu as genetically disposed towards thievery, and when the election dispute arose, the cry was ‘kill all the Gikuyu since they are nothing but thieves’.

Not to be outdone, the Gikuyu, particularly the Ameru, re-ignited myths of their migration to the Mt. Kenya region from Axum in Ethiopia, with links to the Queen of Sheba; thus they claimed to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. The more educated linked the Meru, particularly the Athuci, to this claim of Jewish descent. In bars, it was said that the Biblical Eden was located in the land divided by a flowing river (the Chania in this case); and that Mt. Kenya was the seat of God, who had bestowed Kibaki with the power to lead as only the Gikuyu could reign over the rest of the country.  You could not galvanise a people around their pride as the pure more strongly than this. Unless you are Hitler of course.

The folklore taught to the circumcised among the Bantu and especially among the Gikuyu were brought to the fore, encouraging distrust of other tribes as lazy. Numerous moderate Gikuyus, on trying to caution their hardliner friends about the irregularities marring the elections were taunted: ‘are you not circumcised? So why fear antagonizing a kihii (the uncircumcised)?” In the post election violence, Gikuyu youth hunted down Luos in Kibera, and Naivasha, forcefully circumcising them before either beating them or killing them. Reports from Independent bodies delving into the root causes of the violence have documented the same from the Nandi community: young circumcised youths were taught folklore during their cultural lessons, slanted to provoke them into attacking the Gikuyu in the Rift Valley, now that they were warriors. In turn, stories, proverbs and writings have cropped up which encourage what I can term the ‘Jewinisation’ of the Gikuyu: a feeling of persecution and ‘we are the hated because of being entrepreneurs’ which,  surprisingly, is getting encouragement from the learned and wealthy of the community. From hawkers to middle class homes, the Gikuyu feel besieged, and believe that they are being witch-hunted for working hard and prospering. With the Gospel of prosperity taught in evangelical churches, they have sought refuge in Christian stories of those persecuted by jealous people, and hence found solace by conceiving of themselves as an unfairly-persecuted minority, like the Jews. It resonates with the teaching of the bible; some religious people go further and rely on the Biblical hatred between the Jews and the Gentiles to justify hating the other tribe. Several blogs hosted by Gikuyu attest to this, one of the most prominent being one titled ‘Who are the Gikuyu? The Jews of Kenya‘. In Rwandesque terms, Kenyan communities claimed supremacy over others using their communal narratives, and urging the decimation of others as weeds, stains, and other negative terms. Proverbs were given tribal meanings to otherise. Communities were labeled madoadoa, stains that needed to be removed, in avenues as public as FM stations.

But fortunately most people decided to use literature in its various forms to propagate peace and provoke a re-evaluation of the whole Kenyan conflict, as well as what avenues there were to address the animosity that was fast claiming lives. The Concerned Kenyan Writers email group brought together arguably the best Kenyan writers in a dialogue of sorts, which quickly grew into a major forum for international media and literary people looking for a more authentic, alternative source of information that wasn’t censored by the commercial factors that hampered the mainstream media. Writers like Binyavanga Wainaina, Yvonne Awuor, Billy Kahora, Stanley Gazemba, Muthoni Garland, Rasnah Warah, Parselelo Kantai and others wrote fiction and non fiction articles that they posted on the site and were circulated worldwide. International writers played their part in narrating the Kenyan experience, mostly because it resonated with their own countries. Gappah Pettinah from Zimbabwe, Uganda’s Doreen Baingana and Kalundi Serrumaga are notable examples.

In December, before election day, Story Moja, a literary body in Nairobi, organized Kenya’s first Reading Festival; a story-telling competition was held. Most of the narratives referred to the General election that was around the corner, warning against the dire consequences of tribal politics as if prophesying the violence to come. The winning narrative, almost uncannily, was about kitchen tools that engaged in animosity and fought each other in their quest for supremacy, leading to a blaze in the kitchen. It ended with a plea for Kenyans not to be like the kitchen tools. But apparently some didn’t heed it. On the theatre scene, plays like Lwanda Magere which ‘pimped’ the legend of Lwanda Magere – the invincible Luo warrior who was invincible until he leaked the secret to a girl that only spearing his shadow could hurt him – were done with a modern political angle and toured the countryside. Youth from the Dandora slums organized by Patrick Shomba made a short film titled Ghetto President and aired it there.

After the violence erupted, writers gathered at the Sunday Salon to read stories of hope and love; all the admission money collected was donated to the Kenya Red Cross to buy food and clothing for the internally displaced. Similarly, a play was shown at the National Theater the proceeds of which were donated to charity. Many more events took place countrywide.

Despite the fact that literature was used to spread hate, it is not to be blamed. It is those who misused it who are to blame, in the same way that those who used the positive power of literature to ease the conflict are to be praised. One does not ban all water bodies simply because someone drowned in a river. With special reference to folktales, it is not that they are forms for hatred, but rather that people misused them.

At the end of World War II, Allied commanders banned the publication of the Grimm tales in Germany in the belief that they had contributed to Nazi savagery. Some even called for the banning of folktales and similar literary styles, but reason eventually prevailed: it was not the tales, but the manipulators who were the problem.  It is a fact that most of the folktales and narratives in our communities extolled peace and understanding. Even those that were slanted and mis-interpreted by the warmongers to spread hate are about the virtues of Koitalel Arap Samoei, Dedan Kimathi, and Lwanda Magere, who actually had virtues we all need to emulate: prominently, self-sacrifice for the communal good. Our folktales did not advocate killing of innocent women and children, and they did not advocate killing innocent people in a room set ablaze for the sake of revenge. But like everything at this insane moment in our country, truth was lost.  Literature, like a gun, depends on the hands it is in.

________________________________________

Simiyu Barasa is a film maker (Toto Millionaire), and a member of the Concerned Kenyan Writers collective.

Feminism: (as) a transformational politic  

“We live in a world of crisis – a world governed by politics of domination, one in which the belief in a notion of superior and inferior, and its concomitant ideology – that the superior should rule over the inferior – effects the lives of all people everywhere, whether poor or privileged, literate or illiterate.

Systematic dehumanization, worldwide famine, ecological devastation, industrial contamination, and the possibility of nuclear destruction are realities which remind us daily that we are in crisis…..

Feminism, as liberation struggle, must exist apart from and as a part of the larger struggle to eradicate domination in all its forms….the separation of grassroots ways of sharing feminist thinking across kitchen(table)s from the sphere where much of that thinking is generated [read institutionalised], the academy, undermines feminist movement.

It would further feminist movement if new feminist thinking could be once again shared in small group contexts, integrating critical analysis  with discussion of personal experience(s).

 It would be useful to promote anew the small group setting as an arena of education for critical consciousness, so that women, men (& trans folk) might come together in neighbourhoods and communities to discuss feminist concerns….It is in this commitment to feminist principles in our words and deeds that the hope of a feminist revolution lies.

Working collectively to confront difference, to expand our awareness of sex (gender), race and class as interlocking systems of domination, of the ways we reinforce and perpetuate these structures, is the context in which we learn the true meaning of solidarity.

It is this work that must be the foundation of feminist movement…..

True politicization – coming to critical consciousness – is a difficult “trying” process, one that demands that we give up set ways of thinking and being, that we shift our paradigms, that we open ourselves to the unknown, the unfamiliar.

Undergoing this process, we learn what it means to struggle and in this effort we experience the dignity and integrity of being that comes with revolutionary change.

If we do not change our consciousness, we cannot change our actions or demand change from others.

Our renewed commitment to a rigorous process of education for critical consciousness will determine the shape and direction of future feminist movement……

 

Feminist focus on men: a comment

…now we can acknowledge that the reconstruction and transformation of male behaviour, of masculinity is a necessary and essential part of feminist revolution. Yet critical awareness of the necessity for such work has not led to the production of a significant body of feminist scholarship that fully addresses these issues. Much of the small body of work on men has been done by men…..

(yet) just as love relationships between females and males are a space where feminist struggle to make a context for dialogue can take place, feminist teaching and scholarship can also and must necessarily be a space for dialogue….it is in that space that we can engage in constructive confrontation and critique…..

[Youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gmvx8suFr3M&NR=1%5D

Blogger’s note: these teachings are symbolic of the great work that has been done and that is still ahead of us in healing not only ourselves, but the world, and in liberating not only ourselves, and ALL Afrikans, but ALL people. The bigger point of sharing teachings that have transformed not just me, but many others is simple: to reconnect, relocate and rebuild (our) communities with (big) love en more bredrin en dadas in solidarity….afrika moja!

Writing autobiography

The longing to tell one’s story and the process of telling is symbolically a gesture of longing to recover the past in such a way that one experiences both a sense of reunion and a sense of release…..

To G…., who is she: on using a pseudonym

Bell hooks is a name that comes from my family. It is the name of my great-grandmother on my mother’s side…claiming this name was a way to link my voice to an ancestral legacy of woman speaking – of woman power.

[between the lines: molisa nyakale is also a name that comes from my family. It is the name of my great-great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, and a mark-er of my true true home….claiming this name was also a way to link my voice to an ancestral legacy of wom(b)an speaking]

When I first used this name with poetry, no one ever questioned this use of a pseudonym, perhaps because the realm of imaginative writing is deemed more private than social….after years of being told that I said the wrong things, of being punished, I had to struggle to find my own voice, to feel that I could speak without being punished…

in using the pseudonym, I consciously sought to make a separation between ideas and identity so that I could be open to challenge and change.

Though by no means a solution to this problem, a pseudonym certainly creates a distance between the published work and the author….longing to shift attention away from personality, from self to ideas, informed my use of a pseudonym…the point of the pseudonym was not to mask, to hide my identity but rather to shift the focus, to make it less relevant

Excerpts from Talking Balk: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

In honour of the legacy of tajudeen abdul raheem (en many many ancestors who dedicated their lives to the liberation of all afrikan peoples)

this post is dedicated to bredrin and dadas in solidarity…nakupenda. bless those who work for truth, justice, reconciliation & peace.

 ase.ase.

 

Afrika moja! Afrika huru!

Ase. o.

.

Preface: Reflections of light

…..In a revolutionary manner, black women have utilised mass media (writing, film, video, art, etc.) to offer radically different images of ourselves. These actions have been an intervention. We have also dared to move out of our “place” (that is away from the bottom of everything, the place this society often suggests we should reside). Moving ourselves from manipulatable objects to self-empowered subjects, black women have by necessity threatened the status quo……This challenge to the status quo has generated serious anti-black female backlash that combines fierce racism ( en homophobia) with antifeminism…..this backlash requires that those of us who are aware be ever vigilant in our efforts to educate one another, and all black people, for critical consciousness. Backlash, from whatever source, hurts. It retards and obstructs freedom struggle. Intense attacks help create a context of burnout and despair.  

It is crucial that black women and all our allies in struggle, especially progressive black men, seize the day and renew our commitment to black liberation and feminist struggle….

blogger’s note: I give thanks for the sistas en mamas who pour their heart and soul into practising and teaching balance, truth, justice and love.  So, in honour of African Liberation Day, these healing words are excerpts from sisters of the yam: black women and self recovery by bell hooks & Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Ase. Ase. Ase. Ase O…..

 In her essay (Eye to Eye), Audre Lorde urges black females to put our struggle to self actualise at the center of our daily life. She taught us,

Learning to love ourselves as black women goes beyond a simplistic insistence that “black is beautiful”. It goes beyond and deeper than the surface appreciation of black beauty, although that is certainly a good beginning.

But if the quest to reclaim ourselves and each other remains there, then we accept another superficial measurement of self, one superimposed upon the old one and almost as damaging, since it pauses at the superficial. Certainly it is no more empowering.

And it is empowerment – our strengthening in the service of ourselves and each other, in the service of our work and future – that will be the result of this pursuit

We have known, and continue to know, the rewards of struggling together to change society so that we can live in a world that affirms the dignity and presence of black womanhood. In many ways Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self Recovery is a manifestation of that joy and an expression of the awareness that we must be ever vigilant – the struggle continues…..

 

 

Introduction: Healing Darkness

Living as we do in a white supremacist capitalist partriachal context that can best exploit us when we lack a firm grounding in self and identity (knowledge of who we are and where we’re coming from), choosing “wellness” is an act of political resistance. Before many of us can effectively sustain engagement in organised resistance struggle, in black liberation movement, we need to undergo a process of self recovery that can heal individual wounds that may prevent us from functioning fully…..

It is important that black people talk to one another, that we talk with friends and allies, for the telling of our stories enables us to name our pain, our suffering and to seek healing…..

I: Seeking After Truth

We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other  until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from each other, the love of black women for each other. But we can practive being gentle with each other by being gentle with that piece of ourselves that is hardest to hold, by giving more to the brave bruised girl child within each of us, by expecting a little less from her gargantuan efforts to excel. We can love her in the light as well as in the darkness, quiet her frenzy towards perfection and encourage her attentions towards fulfillment…as we arm ourselves with ourselves and each other, we can stand toe to toe inside that rigorous loving and begin to speak the IMPOSIBBLE – to one another. The first step toward genuine change. Eventually, if we speak the truth to each other, it will become unavoidable to ourselves.

Audre Lorde, “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger”

Healing takes place within us as we speak the truth of our lives….commitment to truth telling is thus the first step in any process of self recovery…telling the truth about one’s life is not simply about naming the “bad” things, exposing horrors. It is also about being able to speak openly and honestly about feelings, about a variety of experiences. It is fundamentally not about withholding information so as to exercise power over others….

hence, it must be remembered that to be open and honest in a culture of domination, a culture that relies on lying, is a courageous gesture. Within white-supremacist capitalist partriarchal culture, black people are not supposed to be “well”. This culture makes wellness a “white” luxury. To choose against that culture, to choose wellness, we must be dedicated to truth. By giving up the illusory power that comes from lying and manipulation and opting instead for the personal power and dignity that comes from being honest, black women can begin to eliminate life threatening pain from our lives

II: The Joy of Reconciliation

Healing inner wounds makes reconciliation possible. Reconciliation is one of my favourite words. Evoking our capacity to restore to harmony that which as been broken, severed, and disrupted. The very word serves as a constant reminder in my life that we can come together with those who have hurt us, with those whom we have caused pain, and experience sweet communion.

To be at peace, black women, especially those among us who have been deeply wounded and hurt, must release the bitterness we hold within us. Bitterness is like a poison. When it’s inside us, it spreads even to the parts of the self that allow us to feel joy and a spirit of celebration. Yet many of us choose to hold onto pain through the cultivation of bitterness and an unforgiving heart….when we give ourselves love and peace, we can give these gifts to others. It’s really impossible to live a life in love while hoping that harm and hurt will come to others…

Again, I think it is important that we remember that forgiveness does not mean that we cease to assertively identify wrongs, hold others to account, and demand justice…..this is the true realization of justice – that we want what is peaceful and life sustaining for all and not just for ourselves.

…..we have to forgive with our whole hearts. If we forgive in words but continue to harbour secret resentment, nothing really changes. When forgiveness happens, when there is compassion, the groundwork for reconciliation is possible. For me that is the ultimate joy: That we learn that there are no broken bonds that cannot be mended, no pain that cannot be assuaged

III Touching the Earth

…..Collective black self recovery takes place when we begin to renew our relationship to the earth, when we remember the way of our ancestors. When the earth is sacred to us, our bodies can also be sacred to us……

Ase.O

blogger’s note: in this countdown to the ‘official’ (biggest) pan-afrikan holiday, we’re going to not only (re)vision where we’re coming from, giving thanx for the legacies en sacrifices of our ancestors, our people, en the future we’re preparing for,

but also, interrogate where we’re at NOW, like with-in (myself) en OUT, communally with all the gaps and dis-unity, (en ALL  the intersections, betwixt en between)

(like) dis’ hadithi ya the prosecution and imprisonment of steven monjeza na tiwonge chimbalanga is (pure) madness,

a ‘living’ example of the convoluted ways that we have internalised ‘foreign’ ideologies en  turned to attacking en criminalizing bredrin en sistren for misguided en oppressive reasons,

like it’s all a part of the master plan?

forgive them father, they know not what they do kinda song?

nigga(s) please, let’s jus’ stop hating (ourselves en) on each other!

if it were all that simple to reclaim love for ourselves with the preach en human rights speech no?

with papa malcolm’s anniversary jus’ one day gone, and ALD just 4 days away, (more than a few) big symbols of  all the labour that has gone into the freedom we DO  have,all the more reason to give thanx for en share stories of peace, and (of) the people willing to fight for it, by any means necessary!  afrika huru! ase o….

21 May 2010

UN human rights chief says sentence on Malawi gay couple is discriminatory and sets dangerous precedent

GENEVA – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Friday that the prosecution and sentencing of 14 years imprisonment with hard labour for a Malawian gay couple, imposed by a court in Malawi on Thursday, is “blatantly discriminatory” and sets an alarming precedent in the region for the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as groups that support them.

“I am shocked and dismayed by the sentence and reports of the treatment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga while in detention,” Pillay said. “The law which enabled the conviction dates back to the colonial era and has lain dormant for a number of years – rightly so, because it is discriminatory and has the effect of criminalizing and stigmatizing people based on perceptions of their identity. If this was replicated worldwide, we would be talking about the widespread criminalization of millions of people in consensual relationships and the rampant violation of privacy.”  

 “Laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation are by their nature discriminatory, and as such are in apparent violation of a number of key international treaties and instruments, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights*,” Pillay said “Unfortunately they still exist in quite a number of countries across the world. The trend should be towards getting rid of them, as is the case with other forms of discrimination. Instead, some countries, including Malawi, seem to be heading in the opposite direction.”

 The High Commissioner called for the conviction to be repealed and for the penal codes criminalizing homosexuality to be reformed.

 She said she was also concerned that this case appears to have stimulated a marked deterioration in official and public attitudes in Malawi, not just towards individuals perceived as being homosexual but also towards organizations that speak out about sexual orientation and related issues, including ones doing vital work to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS.  

 

“I fear the reverberations of this decision, along with the recent attempt to bring in a new draconian bill aimed at homosexuals in Uganda, could have severe repercussions throughout the African continent,” Pillay said. “It will inevitably drive same-sex couples underground, and if this trend continues and spreads, not only will it mark a major setback to civil liberties, it could have a disastrous effect on the fight against HIV/AIDS. So, in addition to the serious moral and legal ramifications of this decision, it raises intensely practical problems as well.”    

The High Commissioner dismissed the argument that non-discrimination against people on the grounds of sexual orientation is a cultural issue. “It is a question of fundamental rights,” she said, “not one of geography, history or disparate cultures. The protection of individuals against discrimination is pervasive in international human rights law. Why should it be suspended for this one group of human beings?”

(*) Article 2:Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status. Article 19:All peoples shall be equal; they shall enjoy the same respect and shall have the same rights. Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another.

Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

Click here to visit OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org

OHCHR Country Page – Malawi: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/MWIndex.aspx

For more information or interviews contact: Rupert Colville at + 41 22 917 9767

My favourite things about today are yet to come, I love Thursdays for the simple reason that I know every night will be a ‘jood’ one. En I get one night closer to Saturday, another one of those (guaranteed) ‘jood’ time(s), the rest of my evenings are up for grabs by wind (dadas), moon, sun, rain, work en love

Tonight, I’mma break my ritual(s) and go for the (pre)screening of ‘red lips’ instead, in this space en (neo-colonial/post-modern) times, you gotta take stories about (queer/trans/pan) afrikans wherever they offer themselves.  It’s (not) often en (not) widespread, (depending on how/en/where you look at/read it)…

Even though I haven’t even ‘seen’ the (short) film yet, haven’t ‘read’ the reviews, seen the ads, or followed it on any social engine, I’ve marked off the premiere of the Legacy Video Project in my calendar. http://www.insideout.on.ca/20/program_details.php?id=31

It’s ‘special’ in so many ways, one of those (community) rituals that define (not only) my ‘Canadian’ (en Tdot) status (butof  a fragmented and intersecting group of ‘others’).

http://www.insideout.ca/20/schedule/index.php

For (almost) as long as I’ve lived in this country, I have attended the festival; I first volunteered in Tdot @ InsideOut; most of my ‘official’ film experience has been thanks to the queer youth digital video project &

….ndio, there’s a pattern, so, ofcourse I have a sweet spot for all things queer(trans) en (film&video)spice (many others do, en feel me on this too – uchandirayasi!) en it’s (notso) obvious that I have plenty access en privilege to re/define myself in queer & trans positive spaces.

These are one of the many reasons Tdot could ‘potentially’ be the ‘best’ city in the world, we’re a ‘nicer’ (version of) New York (or so I’ve heard, coz I ain’t crossed THAT  border yet, but from what I heard, it sounds like, from a pan-afrikan perspective, the only ting’ that New York has over Tdot is Brooklyn en the Bronx, Manhattan is just so gay), en if you’re an Afrikan in the diaspora, where better to experience the whole world (if you choose to) than in (dis) one city?

Where so many ‘others’ re/define one of the national landmark/s of turtle island? (you couldn’t experience such living in jo’burg, kampala, kigali, lagos, mogadishu, monrovia or nairobi, maybe with enough time en immigrants…..)

En yes, if you unpack these hadithi, you’d read I was telling you this, because it’s Very.Important.People.  I have (more than 31) personal (en political) reasons to be going to see ‘red lips’ tonight…the actions (are) layered, (en symbolic) as markers in the ‘Q’ werd.

Red lips, is the crux, is swagger, is nneke dumele, audrey mbugua & tomee sojourner, trey anthony, zanele muholi, wahu kaara & pouline kimani, bombastic kasha & victor mukasa, tajudeen abdul raheem & audre lorde, seven sisters & anitafrika dub theatre…(many) dadas en bredrin in solidarity, in film/theory but not nearly as many as we need in practice, in intersecting and separate spaces, for different purposes, all to rebuild en reclaim ourselves en our communities….

we gotta still continue from ‘here’, give thanks not only for who we’ve got, or where we’re coming from, but for what’s coming as we prepare…..

the big(ger) point is that we are not the only ones who’ve found (some of) what we’ve been looking for.  We  ARE  the ones we’ve been looking for, so now what?  the crux is working on OUR  unity (first), en manifesting our (re)visions, (or, jus’ what IS  the crux?)

Since time, everything that one does (re)defines oneself, and since ‘we’ walked, we’ve (re)defined ourselves in groups, labelled God/dess(es), en change/d….. in other words, this is a(nother) pan-afrikan postcard, another hadithi of dadas (en mamas) in solidarity

I’m going to see red lips tonight for (more than)a few reasons; I’ve read en heard the story, witnessed en shared in parts of its production, en I (am in) love (with) the performance of this hadithi. There’s something about any producer who delves into the significance of healing en self recovery for womyn through ritual en wota, en about the ‘actors’ who re/tell the story with their (own) body-memories,  something about taking time to see (beautiful/performance) art used for revolushunary change, it’s like (good) food for the soul en dadas.(practis)in(g).solidarity, which is quite simply, jood!

ofcourse i’m also jus more likely to be going coz, the womyn who produced the piece is not only (a) fine as may wine (dada who knows many other sweet as honey sistas) but one of the many afrikans  (or few, depending on how/where you look at/read it) who’ve shared their energy, love, teachings, en time with me…..one of the many that I been looking for, who’ve changed not only me, but others…

And now that it’s spring (or autumn depending on where your latitude is at) again, and (my) be/loved let me go, now that I’ve (quite literally) fallen through the hole en like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (this is real when I say I volunteered at my first un-Anniversary last nite, so today of all days, I feel particularly qualified to speak on matters of peace & conflict, magic.of.symbolism, truth & reconciliation), today I feel particularly ‘entitled’ to getting some ‘honey’ , I wasn’t beheaded by the Queen, she eve/n ‘spoke’ to me, I ate good food en mostly tended a hookah with a surreal caterpillar, en all in all had quite a sweet (un-anniversary) time…something like when I went to see the ‘other’ queen, the week before that….(went to) fe(e)d the wota, en she gave me some priceless gifts in return…

 (but now that’s another hadithi)…

 the bigger point is that (those) red lips are one of the 31 hadithi of the ‘Q’ werd.

A mystic, organic, and (us) people driven caravan of (change en) pan-afrikan stories.

http://www.anitafrika.com/

Something like a series of auto-myth(o)-biographies en interviews with ordinary people en (super/s)heroes, retelling our true true stories for the sake of pikney. Because if we don’t tell them our true true stories, who will? En if we don’t practice peace, (en fight for our freedom by any means necessary) then where will ‘they’ learn (IT) from?

   Hii hadithi ni ya Agwambo Odera, Frederick Odhiambo, Gacheke Gachihi, George Nyongesa, Hilary Mulialia,  Onyango Oloo, Sam Ojiayo, Willy Mutunga, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, Dedan Kimathi, Elijah Masinde, Ogun na Shango, this is a true confession, in the words of India Arie, of a live learned lesson I was sent here to share with y’all…

(excerpts from I)

introduction: reclaiming Afrika for Afrikans – Pan-Afrikanism: 1900 -1994 by Taju(deen Abdul-Raheem)

The 7th Pan-African Congress (7th PAC), held in Kampala, Uganda, from 3-8 April 1994 was organized to keep alive a tradition that has been around for about a century. The word ‘Pan-Africanism’ first entered the political lexicon in 1900, when the Trinidadian barrister, Henry Sylvester Williams, then based in London called a conference of black people to ‘…protest stealing of lands in the colonies, racial discrimination and deal with all other issues of interests to blacks’.1

It was however, in 1919 when the New Afrikan scholar and political activist, Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, convened what he called the first Pan African Congress in Paris that the Pan African Congress series, of which the 7th Pan African Congress was a continuation, came into being.

However, while the years 1900 and 1919 can be confidently cited as important reference points for the Pan African movement, the movement stretches much farther into the distant history of our people….the roots of the Pan Afrikan movement can be traced right back to the ravages of the first European slave ships to touch the Afrikan coast, some five hundred years back. In this connection, it’s not at all surprising that the founders of Pan-Afrikanism, as well as some of it’s leading warriors, have been Afrikans from the diaspora, who are descendants of the millions of Afrikans captured in the transatlantic slave trade.

Explaining the diasporan origin of Pan Africanism as a movement, W.E.B Du Bois has noted, Africans in the Diaspora tend to look to Africa as one united continent, one unit, mainly because they cannot trace their particular roots. 2

Moreover, the desire to cease being slaves was necessarily accompanied by the desire to go back home – to Africa. The precursors of Pan Afrikanism as we know it today are all the Back to Africa movements that sprung up in Ayiti, Brazil, Cuba, the US, and the rest of the Carribean during the early nineteenth century.

It was the ‘Back to Africa’ movement that for the ‘first’ time conceived of Africa as a ‘nation having socioeconomic and political problems that needed to be confronted on the basis of a Pan African strategy. At the same time, the Back to Africa movement made it imperative for the diasporan Afrikans to focus their attention on the problems of the continent. Apart from protesting the conditions of slavery under which they were living, the Back to Africa movement also called for the abolition of colonialism in Afrika.

The legendary Marcus Garvey is the most famous of the pioneers of the return to Afrika movement.3

Pan Africanism can thus be said to have its origin in the struggles of the Afrikan people against the enslavement and colonization of their people by extra Afrikan forces. Under the relenting onslaught of Pan Afrikanism, especially since the (1945) 5th Pan African Congress of Manchester, most countries on the Afrikan continent ultimately regained their independence. However, the regaining of independence did not end colonialism but only transformed it into neo-colonialism: political independence without economic independence……….

The (road to and from the) 7th Pan African Congress….if one must summarize in a few words what was significant about the 7th PAC and state what makes it distinct from all previous congresses, they must be: African women participated fully in the Congress but more than participating they formed PAWLO. From now onwards it will no longer be possible to write women out of the history of Pan Africanism. Attendance lists of previous congresses read too much like a register of an old boys’ school….but the 7th PAC (was supposed to have) changed this. We can(?) now talk of a movement that is reflective of all sectors of our society. To ensure this is permanent the women formed PAWLO, not as a rival to the global movement but as an equal partner, fighting together, striking separately, in our joint struggle.

 

Notes

1W.E.B Du Bois in ‘Origins of the Pan African movement’

2 Du Bois, ‘Origins of the Pan African movement’

3 For a summary of Marcus Garvey’s writings and his role in the Pan Afrikan movement see Amy Jacques Garvey with E.V Essienudom, Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey Vol.2, London: Frank Cass, 1977

from Pan Africanism Politics, Economy and Social Change in the Twenty-first century

[II] A People’s History of East Afrika:

Impersonating the People’s voices and the Rise of the Praetorian regime by Hilary Mulialia

Let’s start with a reality check. The Kenyan public has never been aware of itself as a people. They have never been a nation and have never acted as one.

A nation is a group of people who have common values, customs, language, origins and history. The claim to nationality stems from their possession of one or more of these aspects as “unique” to themselves.

Apart from their definition as a colonial unit of administration, “Kenyans” have nothing that is common and unique to them.

Nations are built by visionaries. Visionaries in positions of leadership who present a value so appealing that it is adopted into the hearts of the people and changes their every aspect of life, creating a new sense of identity.

It is from this identity that a “nation” speaks. It is values and principles that are the true Principals of a nation. It is these values and principles that speak for the nation.

 All the things that are now happening in the name of “Kenyans” are the machinations of a few individuals or small groups of individuals acting in the name of the people. These people have expropriated the self-determination and expression of the people unto themselves. They have conjured up ideas that work in their interests and have then used the media and the state machinery of administration to plant these ideas into the masses who then go repeating these mantras without internalizing the true meanings of the words they speak.

The individual and selfish interests of this small group are protected within a system of authoritarianism, where those who are above in the chain of command have complete authority over those below them. They work to create a strong Neo-colonial state (under the global Imperial State) where they play the role of the Praetorian Guard.

The Praetorian Guard

The Praetorian Guard was an elite unit of the Roman army whose primary responsibility was to protect the emperor and his family. They quickly became a force unto themselves, began to determine who was to become emperor and severally eliminated emperors who refused to abide by their ever growing greed for power and privilege.

Today in Kenya (and Africa in general), there has risen a class of intellectuals, lawyers, writers, editors and charismatic individuals (in the name of politicians and some pastors) who have occupied the position of the Praetorian Guard.

Their main task is to defend the ideals of Eurocentric Imperialism (European centered control) and also to create the environment it needs to thrive. They are rewarded with powerful positions in the local socio-political arena.

Even though they all work through different lines of command, they are all obligated to a central power, a center that funds all their operations and to whom they are all loyal to. As they say “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

The top of these classes have come together to form a consortium that has full control over the masses. They regulate and direct the governance, economics, socialization and the people’s way of thinking towards the ideals of Neo-liberalism and into the clutches of Western Imperialism.

This is the true local power.

We are now under a Praetorian Regime!

 

Quick Background

There has always been a struggle, by a few conscious individuals and sometimes groups in this country, to liberate the African people from the ever evolving systems of suppression they have been under.

There is a lie going round that “Kenyans” have been fighting for reforms for the last 20 years. This ignorance is being perpetuated by those who want us to deny our sovereignty and self-efficacy (ability to effect). They want us to believe that we only started to fight for reforms when the Americans decided that we should. This is a lie.

Before we go around falsely accusing the masses of having made this or that decision, or that they want this or that article or kind of change, let’s go back to the beginning of our statehood to understand the Kenyan public and its involvement in change.

Less than a couple of years after independence, it was clear that;

  1. There were beasts inside the house. The ruling regime was a beastly ensemble of thieves and murderers who went all out to silence the likes of Pio Gama Pinto and J M Kariuki along with the remnants of the Mau Mau for trying to speak out to Kenyans and letting them know that this is not the independence that they fought for. The entire Executive had gone on a looting spree and accumulated for themselves vast resources that rightfully belonged to the masses. Other principled individuals, like Joseph Murumbi (the then vice-president), opted out of the game and engaged in his own creative aspirations.
  2. The System was fundamentally flawed. The constitution that we had adopted was an imperialist document which simply continued the colonial system of governance, the whole kit and caboodle, with the only changes being the color of the people manning the seats. In fact before independence, the main issue among the Africans was on the number of Africans being included in parliament. It was when the wave of independence from West and Franco Africa finally hit our borders that a hastily prepared Jomo Kenyatta was returned from seclusion and instated to the position of Prime Minister, a renamed Governor- under a queen, in the same mansion and all. It was only after one year of questioning that we dropped the Royal link and declared ourselves a republic with a president, even though the system of administration and the relations of power between the people and the government had remained the same.

Of course, the masses did not understand what was going on and apart from a few expressions of public anger during moments of extreme and explicit violence against their heroes; the masses went on with their lives, oblivious of their own pain.

At this point we need to ask ourselves certain important questions and answer them as we enter the next phase of our national development.

  • Where was the international community when Kenyans and other Africans were traumatized under the dictatorship of greedy brutes like Jomo Kenyatta and Mobutu Sese Seko?
  • How come there was no popular uprising in these and other African countries that would have lead to overthrows of dictatorships or at least led to the redrafting of imperial constitutions?
  • How come there is so much energy and resources available today to do these activities at a time when the urgency to do so is less than it was in “the dark days” of our advent?

Kenyatta was a feared man, and when he passed away in 1978, there was a silent sigh of relieve mixed with state orchestrated mourning in a ceremony which was overseen by Daniel Arap Moi, the Vice president who was to rise to the position of the second president of this country.

Moi was more of the same. In a short while, he had managed to consolidate power so well that the only way to remove him from power was to overthrow him.

Now, when there was a military uprising in 1982, not only were the masses not included in what many today agree was a necessary evil (to relieve us from the Draconian rule of Daniel Arap Moi), but these same masses were, of the view that the people responsible were some devil-possessed individuals who were out to destroy our “heaven of peace, love and unity”. Several individuals were held responsible and executed as the masses cheered.

The mid-eighties saw another mass-less strive for relief from totalitarianism. A group of Marxist Lecturers, under the label of “December Twelfth Movement” (DTM), started sensitizing their students on the tenets of communism. The students went ahead and organized themselves into the “Mwakenya movement” and as shouts of “people power” and greetings of “Comrade” started ringing out along the campus halls and periodically spilling out on the Nairobi streets during demos (sometimes for chapati and meatballs), the state knew exactly where to aim their clamps.

There followed a purge of all leftist leaning or speaking intellectuals along with their mind poisoning books and other literatures.

It was also during this time that the Nyayo House Torture Chambers became fully functional. Of its visitors, those who were lucky left with serious physical and psychological scars while the unlucky never even got the chance to re-emerge as corpses as the acid treatments they received completely pulverized their bodies. (You know, Kibaki was the vice-president during this time and as the second senior most executive in the regime, he owes Kenyans either an explanation or a prosecution of those whom he got intelligence of their involvement.)

Still no masses! Still no intervention by the international community! (They were too busy injecting neo-liberalism into our national veins in the name of Structural Adjustment Programs.)

External Dynamics

The fall of the 80s came with a global change that was to affect our internal governance for the second time in our history. At this point we need to illuminate on the relation between external causes and internal effects on the history of Kenya. We shall call this “geopolitics”. For this, we shall take a quick step back, just for clarity, before we resume.

The first geopolitical cause that resulted in a beneficial effect for the Kenyan people was the African revolution.

Now, let’s face the truth! The Mau Mau struggle had been fully contained in 1956 with the capture of Dedan Kimathi and their fate was eventually sealed by his execution in February 1957. Our destiny was on the same path as the South Africans and the Zimbabweans (and judging by the level and number of collaborators and others willing to sell their kin for profit, Kenya could have still been under colonial rule even today).

Luckily for us and many other countries, there had been an ideological battle between a collection of African minds (who included Nkrumah, Toure, Cabral) and the existing imperial ideologies which had conquered African minds. These revolutionaries united as Africans, managed to liberate the minds of their populations whose masses engaged their occupiers at the highest level of thought and this proved to the dominators that they were indeed dealing with intelligent beings capable of strategizing and ejecting them from this land.

Things then started moving very fast, though most of this movement was away from the sight and knowledge of the Kenyan masses. The Ghanaians won their right to self determination and Nkrumah immediately declared that “the independence of Ghana means nothing without the liberation of the rest of Africa”. In 1958, at the African Independent States Conference (at the time only 8 (mostly Maghreb) African countries were liberated), it was vowed by those present that Africa will not rest until all foreign occupiers leave.

It is through this actions and the resultant wave that independence landed on the Kenyan masses. This was after another 25 countries had been granted their independence in this 5 year period. The only hiccup for us is that the British selected Jomo Kenyatta, a man whose character they understood well and whom they knew was going to protect their interests at our expense. They were right!

The Second Geopolitical Cause. The end of the Cold War brought about a second shift in dynamics.

Before the dawn of the 90s, the west was strategically placing and maintaining despotic leaders over third world countries. Two main reasons;

  1. Greedy despotic leaders would be easy to compromise with kickbacks and they would readily allow for the rape of their natural and national resources by foreigners because (and we can’t over emphasize this) even though they had the intellectual capacity to understand the true value of their resources, they did not have the moral capacity to understand the damage they were doing to their people.
  2. Most importantly, in their war against communism which came with the promise of people power, the Liberal West needed to plant individuals with extreme totalitarian tendencies who would viciously crash any form of popular uprising. Communism (liberalism’s antithesis) was the biggest threat to their dominance and everything else (including the then almost half-a-century old Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was being violated by their key African partners) was secondary. Corruption or murder, nothing could stand in the way of the political goodwill and financial support that these leaders regularly received.

The events that were happening in Eastern Europe, even though totally unknown to the Kenyan masses, were about to have a serious effect on Africa and the other third world countries.

As the USSR, a key supporter of socialist and communist movements worldwide, started disintegrating, the world knew that time for change had come. The fall of the Berlin wall signaled the start of the next phase of the new world order.

Now that the immobilizing threat of communism was out of the way, the purpose of the despotic and totalitarian goons (in the names of presidents) was now over. The question that was eating at the West was now; how to rid these resource filled territories, of the old guards (literally) and bring in a new kind of supervisor who would be able to run the more advanced system of expropriation and exploitation.

Suddenly, the lonely and oppressed voices of dissidents living in foreign lands started to be heard very loudly. This was echoed within the country by a few disillusioned and now fully co-opted (read corrupted) former Marxists from the Mwakenya movement (or at least those knowledgeable in revolutionary ideology) still living in the country.

Then one morning, Kenyans woke up to a group of seven “liberators” riding on top of an old rusty “Toyota Stout” pick-up into the now famous Kamkunji grounds waving two fingers in the air and screaming something like “we must repeal section 2A of the Constitution”. The Kenyan masses had no idea what the constitution was let alone what section 2A read like.

Under the Generalship of one “rogue Ambassador” called Smith Hempstone, (a former correspondent whose views were so right- wing that he had been kicked out of several Conservative newspapers)  the Imperial powers (we can stop calling them the International Community) managed to marshal all the Kenyan dissidents to sing in chorus “multi-party now!”.

With the assistance of Hempstone’s fat pockets, the dissidents managed to marshal enough media to convince Kenyans that the repeal of Section 2A and the introduction of many parties were good for them. Soon the whole republic was chanting and waving the two-finger salute without having ever seen the document or understanding its contents. Nobody told them that parties were just cohorts of grabbers teaming up to outdo each other.

All was good and the (Imperial Powers) IPs were about to rid themselves of this unnecessary “cold war” baggage called Moi.

Now Moi, the self-made professor of politics, read into this scheme very quickly. He quickly analyzed the game and realized that the person who being prepared to replace him was none other than his own minister for foreign affairs, the eloquent speaking Robert Ouko. He had been anointed as the next leader of this country and if nothing was done about it, he was indeed going to be the next president of Kenya. This could not be allowed to happen!

His elimination created a huge vacuum in the leadership of the new rebellion, but for the right wing ambassador, there was just one emergence that he could not stand. When it became clear that the soviet trained communist called Jaramogi Odinga was now leading the line-up to replace the old despot, he quickly moved for an alternative that would prove his undoing. Remember, communism is a greater enemy to the IPs than any other form of extremism.

As they quickly settled on the first Capitalist they could think of, they hastily organized a contingent to visit and convince Kenneth Matiba, the hotel magnate who was exiled in London, to come back and replace his former torturer, Daniel Arap Moi. They soon realized that, during his detention by Moi, the man had been damaged beyond repair. Besides, he was spreading dangerous and unacceptable ideas like; ‘the Indians are over-running our economy and need to be expelled’. Unfortunately, the ball was already rolling and the now schizophrenic man was running around believing he was a messiah who had come to save the country. He was unstoppable.

Understanding the game, Mwai Kibaki, a former vice-president and close cohort of Moi, realized that he was not a target of the purge, but was actually an asset in the neo-liberal dispensation that was being advocated for. With his economic credentials at hand, he broke ranks with his former master and positioned himself as an alternative propagator of the Liberal Agenda and a recipient of funding and support from the west.

With the field of presidential candidates growing by the day, the field getting murkier and the opposition unity now a dream, Moi managed to breeze through the 1992 election with a clear lead over the divided opposition.

The masses went back to their businesses and quickly accepted their “now” reality of President Moi.

This was one strand in the string of many Imperial Powers’ failures to remove planted dictators. The other notable attempts to remove out-of-favor incumbents included Desert Storm (to remove Saddam Hussein) a couple of years earlier, and the seriously bungled Battle of Mogadishu (1993) which had them running back to their drawing boards to come up with a new strategy.

Despite losing the battle, they had won critical ground which would ease their work in the future; they had managed to insert a two-term limit on the Kenyan presidency which meant that Moi had to leave in ten years time.

Now, all they needed was patience… and planning.

The Agenda of Reforms and the Building of an Elite Guard!

There was a new game to be played and it required new players- with new skills. Soon, there was a bevy of students and “activists” flying north-west to America. Destination- Havard!

New programs were started in this and other Ivy-league schools to train a new variety of guards, this time not political despots, but as a new guard of imperial interests and ideals. They joined groups of first-draft picks from other third world countries who were being trained to be a part of the new elite. An elite who were to acquire a great hunger for everything American and would serve their Anglo-American masters unquestioningly.

These were to be the Praetorian Guards of their dominions (countries) whose main task was to plant Imperialism at the centre of our governance system, defend it as the principal governor and to implement its policies despite local interests and governments.

They were to serve as checks the local heads of state and give regular reports to the central powers. On their recommendation, presidents, judges, heads of state and leaders of other institutions were to be appointed.

They are the feelers, informers and actors of the Imperial powers in the third world countries. They run big Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations which act as channels for funding the neo-liberal agenda on the ground. These organizations as a network command a lot of power since they receive a lot of intelligence from the grassroots organizations in the name of project proposals and reports.

Members of the Praetorian Guard were also to serve as heads of donor institutions such as the Ford Foundation, Action Aid, USAID and even United Nations programs. By directing the billions of shillings which go through these institutions, they have managed to muster unbelievable clout.

They were later to serve as heads of permanent commissions set up inside neo-colonial governments as part of the “conditionalities” of foreign funding, and it is through these in-government foreign controlled institutions that the Imperial Powers have managed to wrestle local governments to sub-mission. Not only do they have massive intelligence from the grassroots organizations, they also have relatively good access to government intelligence. This considered, they have more intelligence about this (or any other third world) country than the official government does. As we know, intelligence is key to governance and is the most protected institution within any state.

They were also to manifest as writers and editors. Their opinion articles are guaranteed publishing in the commercial print as all media houses are guaranteed fat cheques if they run their (press) statements as headline news.

They were also to co-opt other highly skilled members of the public, including corrupted intellectuals, into their regime. One of these intellectuals was to later rise to the position of Prefect, the Head of the Praetorian Guard.

New Strategy: Control/Create public opinion, control the state.

As the fresh guards started streaming back into the country in the mid-nineties, the cries of reform started getting louder and reached a crescendo in 1997 when the American trained choir was leading the country in the chorus of “No Reform, No Election”.

One of the tools they had learnt to use was that of propaganda.

The eyes see, the ears hear… the mind believes!

They started engaging their campaign through the media. The consuming masses did not have the platform to interrogate these new forces and verify the truth or substance of their statements. The guards grew as a virtual force, without ever really touching the ground.

Used well, propaganda plants ideas into the masses’ minds. With time and persistence, these ideas gain familiarity and soon enough, the receiver becomes the idea and the receiver becomes the transmitter. (There have been great advancements in mass control from the days of Edward Bernays “Propaganda” to more sophisticated discoveries such as Pavlovian Conditioning and Memetics . Not to forget other techniques used in modern day advertising which creates irrational impulses and compulsive behaviors.)

They then create a force among the public which is what is known as “public pressure”.

On getting this cue, the so called international community then acts as if to respond to the cries of the people, though they know very well that they are the initiators of the sentiments through their local propaganda machinery. (What about you… what informs your opinions?)

Bowing to international pressure (the usual threats of stopped donor funding) and the hail of fire coming in from the new public relations strategy, the incumbent agreed to the reform package that had been put together by the Inter-Parties Parliamentary group which had been convened the previous year. Gauging by some of the demands presented in the package, which included “fast-tracking the registration of more political parties”, Moi knew that these guys were not ready to unite. He called for the elections… and won!

The next five years were to see major realignments as parties shifted in and out of the government and individuals in and out of the parties, as it became clear that there were no principles, values or morals involved and that the game was a “no holds barred” scramble for executive seats.

Moi was ready to bow out, but not before securing his property rights by preparing to install as president, his protégé and son of the first president; one Uhuru Kenyatta. There was a breakout in the ruling party camp and an exodus of disgruntled “handover hopefuls”, led by a suspected socialist, Raila Odinga.

Uniting the Opposition

Intervention was required. In came the prefect of the Praetorian Guard (He is currently the head of one of the American donor agencies. His movements are strictly behind the scenes where he is known by all those who seek power in this country. In public, he rears his head as an opinion columnist in the Saturday Standard under the pseudonym “Cabral Pinto”, a play on the names of two Africa revolutionaries- Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau and Pio Gama Pinto of Kenya. Will the real Cabral Pinto please stand up!)

With the weight of the Imperial Powers behind his back, he had managed to bring together the three main opposition candidates at that time. The first MOU, which was never publicized, divided power between Mwai Kibaki of the Democratic Party (DP), Charity Ngilu of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)and Michael “Kijana” Wamalwa. This agreement created the National Alliance of Kenya (NAK) party and was witnessed by the PG prefect on behalf of the Anglo-Americans. A united opposition was an almost guaranteed win (and change of regime).

When Raila entered the opposition scene, he threatened to split the opposition vote and somehow he had to be reeled in. Another MOU was quickly drawn up to accommodate the new members that he had managed to drag out of the KANU regime. They drew up a new constitution between themselves, a power sharing agreement that saw the creation of new positions in government.

The reserved positions were President and Vice-President, Prime-Minister and two Deputy Prime-Ministers. These are the positions that were to be “constitutionalized”. The Prefect was again present to guarantee the backing of the Imperial powers, who would ensure that the MOU would be adhered to the letter. All the members present, who represented the eight provinces of this country, were to form the central and advisory committee to be known as the “Summit”.

As this outfit was presented to the world as the “Second Liberation”, it escaped everyone’s attention that apart from one of them, the rest of the members were once a core part of the oppressive KANU regime and that they were in fact using money stolen from the public to start off their campaigns.

They were also mortgaging the nation’s assets to foreigners whom they would have to pay back by giving them undue advantage over local players in the name of “foreign Investors”. They were after all comprador bourgeoisies (local interest holders of the International Capitalists) who were already partnering with finance capital holders from the Imperial centre on their exploitation ventures.

This group had no common values or interests. They were only brought together by their common greed and “Moi Must Go” was their only common objective. Sure enough with this self-hypnotic mantra, they swept through the country in a euphoric wave that admittedly caught every one off guard.

They had made numerous promises of which the most outstanding was “a new constitution in 100 days”.

Here we will make a note which Kenyan History has been dying to forget. A very principled man called Joe Donde, submitted himself as a presidential candidate. This was a man who, slightly more than a year earlier, had single handedly taken on the banks and financial institutions in this country. Under the liberalized markets, the banks had loosed themselves of any kind of regulation and were raising interest rates arbitrarily. People who had borrowed (mostly by mortgaging their homes) at 8% found themselves facing 40% interest rates, with the principles literally doubling every two years.

Homes were lost, businesses closed down, marriages and families broken, hopes killed. Those in government were not willing to act since they were the same ones who owned these banks or were political patrons of the same. Only a brave man could dare stand up to these financial ogres.

Even as Donde stood up for the people and presented what came to be known as the Donde bill, he faced massive resistance from a combination of banking industry lobbyists and bank share-holder who were members of the house. He fought bravely but was no match for the billions of shillings which were openly exchanged in the parliament corridors to shoot down the bill.

He lost the motion. Believing that he had proved his heart and capacity, he declared his interest for the presidency. When he looked around, he realized that he was alone. Other than James Orengo, his tribes-mate, there was no one within sight of their campaign. No NGOs supporting his righteousness and his move to help the poor masses improve their lives substantially. No foundations donating towards his campaign. No churches saying that here stands a man with the “spirit of good” who has laid down his life so that you may sleep in a stone house. No media support… nothing.

His crimes…? He did not submit himself to the praetorian command and had threatened the interest and stability of the financial institutions.

They do not care about good, only about complete control on behalf of their imperial masters.

A New Executive Officer

2002

Moi’s protégé lost and the world joined Kenya in celebrating the victory over oppression. It wasn’t long before the Objective Reality started sinking in; Mwai Kibaki was an opportunistic exploiter who had no drop of honor in him. He had no sense of “national good”.

He violated all agreements between himself and the summit, himself and the constitution, and even between himself and morality. All agreements were thrown to the wolves as some members of his “Kitchen Cabinet” (made up of his drinking buddies and which had replaced the summit) went on record in public gatherings saying that; they never meant to change anything, it was all a ploy to get Moi out of power.

Nothing changed. Even the masses who had started acting out change on the streets by resisting corruption soon found themselves alone in the venture. Corruption was still rife, all the way to the top, and soon the masses found themselves back where they began.

The constitution making process, which had until now been a low profile event (with the departure of the tyrant), was once again brought to the fore as Raila Odinga picked it as a battering ram to force his way to his promised position of Prime-Minister.

As Yash Pal Ghai, the head of the Constitutional making process, once admitted, the process was yanked off its tracks and out of his control as the two powerful forces mobilized their troops and ripped it apart as the battle for the control of the state shifted to this platform.

The bone of contention was the “non-executive prime-minister”. Raila felt he was being denied his promised position of “Executive prime-minister” as per the MOU. He showed his might by splitting the country into two. He declared it was 41 tribes against 1 tribe.

First Referendum

2005

 In came the masses! People who could not figure out, which is the right side of the road to walk on while going to look for a non-mental job at the farm or in the in un-dignifying Indian-run factories suddenly had very strong opinions on whether this country needs a Prime-Minister with executive powers, a Ceremonial head of state or a parliamentary system with a separate calendar and the powers to impeach the president.

What came out very clearly was that the Kenyan people have at their core, tribal identities which overcome all their other identities including spiritual or educational. Their opinions were- almost to the last man- based on their tribal affinities. It didn’t matter, fish-monger or professor, those from the western part of Kenya thought that the constitution was bad and needed to be done away with. Around the mountain, it was the opposite, priest or pauper, they all supported the proposed constitution.

The Praetorian Guard, which was duty bound to support the MOU it had facilitated, had been instrumental in ensuring it was captured in the first draft, which had been known as the “Bomas Draft”. They supported the “No” campaign which had become synonymous with supporting the “Bomas” position of an “Executive prime-minister”.

Despite having all the state machinery at its disposal, the sitting government of Kibaki and his Mount Kenya cronies were no match for the praetorian led Imperial forces who managed to twist the public in Railas favor.

Well, the referendum failed to pass the proposed constitution and it was soon forgotten about as the groups that had been formed around the two campaigns became “movements”, with one even adopting its campaign name for a party name. Since these movements had no ideals but the grabbing of power, the greed and mistrust in their midst caused the key players to take off in different routes.

Important note!

The Praetorian Guard and the Imperial powers don’t really care who takes power between Kibaki, Raila, Musyoka or any other politician who holds a substantial interest in the current economic dispensation. They know that these individuals would not jeopardize their interests by changing the foundations of the system. For as long as the ‘Title Deed’ is held sacred, then their land holdings shall remain protected. For as long as long as the person in power has retained some wealth in the stock markets, no law shall interfere with Bonds and Stocks. Once one has tasted the easy money of being a local partner (protector) of a foreign investment, they will always be open to new opportunities of commodifying critical aspects of the people’s lives and selling them to these foreigners for a minimal profit.

Once one has been corrupted, they always stand to be corrupted some more. To survive and rise in this corrupted system, one has to be corrupt. The Praetorian Guards are masters at corruption. It is their primary weapon of control.

What is important for them is that they identify those with power, or with potential for power, induct them into the principles of liberalism, bind them with material trappings (easy money to change their lifestyles irreversibly) and give them a stake in the capitalist system. Once they are in, fund their activities (and eventually their campaigns), create strong strings of control, then shove them into the political playing field.

Today, almost all the faces that make it to the public’s attention especially through the mass media, have been made by the Praetorian Guard. Those who have tried to make their way through other channels e.g. media personalities, have found the political field tough and have either agreed to fall under the praetorian’s command or have found themselves in the cold. Even their previous ventures have been destroyed.

This is the nature of the Praetorian Regime.

2007

 As the masses were driven into a frenzy over the elections, the Imperial Powers strategically placed themselves behind all campaigns. The three paramount chiefs Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, were seen criss-crossing Europe and North America pledging their loyalty to whoever will fund their campaigns. Upon their every return they were greeted as “descending gods” by their fully supplicated tribal followers.

Through the direction of the local guard, the Global powers channeled their support for the different campaigns through the different corporations and foundations which exist for such purposes. A lot of the financing and support also went to the media who besides running campaigns for these three horses, also ran separate campaigns for the election process itself. Anyone refusing to be caught up in this madness was labeled an “unpatriotic idiot”.

There was pressure from every angle. Expectations were unrealistic. Turn-outs were impressive. There was only one way to go…

2008

What we will never know for sure is who won the 2007 Kenya Presidential elections.

What we now know for sure is the greed for power that all our leaders possess. They engaged the highest level of brinkmanship that saw all players hold their positions at the expense of the rising death toll and displacement of the naïve masses.

With Kibaki unleashing uniformed and armed thugs on the masses and Raila pushing the same masses to go out to the streets to fight for him, Kenya exploded into a thousand social pieces with community turning on community in blind anger.

Even though in the beginning it was chaotic with every man and woman for hirself, it quickly transformed itself into a tribal (as was now being reported in the international media) conflict but just as quickly, it became a struggle about “Haki yetu!”

Soon Haki Yetu wasn’t about Raila, it was about land and resources as the disenfranchised grabbed at whatever they felt was rightfully theirs. The land wars were especially ugly in the Rift Valley where Kikuyus who had been perceived as encroachers were now being rounded up and expelled or killed.

It then started turning revolutionary.

As a diplomat from Latin America, experienced in revolutions, pointed out; “the objective conditions (the ground) are ideal for a revolution but the subjective conditions (ideals and capacities) are lacking”.

Two things led to the quick response from the Imperial Powers (remember that these are the same guys who sat back and watched over a million Rwandese die before even their media bothered to point a camera).

  1. The revolutionary nature of the conflict. There are a number of Kenyan youth who are “conscious” and educated in ideology and were soon organizing and emphasizing on the class nature of their problems. Remember that the battles were being fought in the poor and lumpen-ised parts of the country.
  2. The Americans had lost a major strategic battle in 2007 over the location of the US AFRICOM. All African countries, apart from their puppet government of Liberia, had refused to allow the Military Command to be built on their land. The Americans had beaten a tactical retreat by stationing it in Stuttgart, Germany, while waiting for an opportune time to land it in Africa.

(US African Command is to be the US foreign policy implementer as they shift their imperial approach from manipulation and coercion to explicit militaristic force as they are already doing in the Middle East. The objectives of the command are clearly stated as securing and coordinating American interests in Africa… read more on US AFRICOM).

They need to plant a stooge in Kenya to allow them access to Kenya, which is a major port into Africa, not just for Ships (like the slave ship which is currently being loaded with dehumanized Africans), but also for ideas such as liberalism and capitalism.

Kenya is central to the expansionist interest of the Anglo-American Imperial Powers. Even without the military command, there are already major installations located in this country especially the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) not to mention the military bases and Multi National Corporation’s (MNC) region offices.

The Takeover

The Praetorian Guards quickly pulled themselves together. Fed with the experiences of guards from other countries, they saw an opportunity to entrench themselves in the system and to take over control from the lack of leadership that was immediately experienced.

Under the banner of Kenyans for Peace, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation (KPTJ), they created an information network which temporarily expanded the guard by bringing in new cadets, even though on a temporary basis. Those outside the information network but under the command of the guards now started being referred to as “Human Rights Defenders” (HRD).

(A lot of the lower rank HRDs don’t understand the game and most are driven by good intentions. The influential ones are identified through their activities and quickly co-opted into the paid ranks. Co-option usually means compromising your agency of Utu and agreeing to become an agent of Imperialism. They also introduce money as the motive behind your actions and a sense of immobility in the absence of money.)

The senior guards were soon flying around the world consulting with their Imperial heads on the seriousness of the situation, its threat to their interests and more importantly, the tactics to be assumed in cementing their control over the political class.

First… to contain the chaos.

There was a flurry of events as the Imperial Powers brought out there key diplomats to restore the situation to its previous state (what they called a state of “Normalcy”).  While former UN Sectretary-General and now Africa Chief, Kofi Annan was in the country as mediator, the US Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice was seen dropping in during moments of stalled negotiations as the US president George Bush was turning neighboring Tanzania into a podium for issuing threats and ultimatums to the two Kenyan principals.

With a stern reminder of how the popular Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was declared an abomination by the Media Machine before being executed in public, the leaders were forced to sign a document they knew was impractical, lest the same happens to them. They shook hands in front of the cameras as a signal for their troops to withdraw. They did!

The IP had usurped Kenya’s sovereignty and placed it in the hands of the Praetorian Guard. Their control was now public as they became the overseers of the pact. Any problems were reported to them. Where they were unable to address the situation, a simple call to Kofi Annan saw our two principals running around trying to placate the African chief.

The new hook of control was the International Criminal Court. Known for its ability to prosecute sitting presidents, it cast a shadow of death over the political landscape in the forms of; the UN rights violations investigator, Phillip Alston and the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, who were regularly reported to be flying in and out of the country.

Then there was a list. Anyone’s name could have been in that list. Everyone behaved.

The leadership was now fully under the control of the Imperial Powers.

Silencing the Cries

Now, to silence the noise of change that was coming from a few conscious elements…

The resistance on the ground was organizing itself into a people’s movement. The masses were being educated on their interests. The “people” were becoming political. This needed to be stopped.

The machine that they had created to remove dictator Moi was now starting to work against them. It needed to be decommissioned. The “Reform” agenda had to be put to rest.

A committee of experts was quickly engineered with a make up that was fully donor-dependent almost to the last man and woman. Comprising some of their best international legal “mercenaries” as foreign experts, the Imperial Powers created a committee from their list of “consultants” and NGO heads that was itself fully donor supported.

The draft they came up introduced nothing new. It wasn’t meant to!

It simply converted to legal jargon the existing governance framework and changed the name of a few institutions and positions just for confusion purposes.

It had also attempted to constitutionalise the Imperial controlled commissions but this was checked by a few MPs who didn’t understand the game.

The cosmetic changes in the so-called Bill of Rights means nothing if power is not devolved to the grassroots and people allowed to organize their own democratic government at the village level. Central power MUST be totally contained. Focus must be shifted. (This decentralization will be addressed in subsequent articles.)

The Americans (at the centre of imperialism) don’t want change. They have fought to maintain the same structure of government which they understand very well is anti-people and regressive. This is a new document but not a new constitution.

Despite this, they have directed their guards to shut down any dissenting voices.

Using the same tactic of shutting down communications during times of possible rebellion, they have created a state of emergency which has seen them gazette a draconian act which threatens to lock anyone whose “free expression” on the electronic is contrary to their position.

They have further shut down Mombasa for 100 days under the guise of a drug crack down.

The NGO and CSO have been excessively funded to campaign for this document in the name of “civic education” which in truth is a process of herding the masses to accept this deception.

The media have become so partisan in the ongoing debate that one can’t help see that they are acting out of interest instead of Media objectivity. Here too, dissenting voices are not given any space.

The politicians are fully checked… what with the hovering ghost of the post-election violence threatening to imprison their principals. To boot, Luis Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor jets in just to remind agenda resistors what lays ahead for them if they refuse to toe the line.

And the people… the people have been quiet… until now.

(Can the Argentine Lawyer, Luis Moreno Ocampo, also look north from his home to the US and in the same spirit with which he investigated Omar Bashir [a sitting president of a non-signatory country of the Rome Statute] to also investigate George Bush and his partners in the Military Industrial Complex for starting a war on a false premise and being responsible for the deaths of over 1.2 million (and counting) Iraqis to date. It should be easier to arrest him since he is no longer the sitting president.

UN Special Investigator, Phillip Alston, Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, can you first investigate your nation-mate on the same said atrocities? Or will being a beneficiary of the Iraqi oil-output that the US now controls tint the view on your spectacles of justice. We as Africans will have more faith in what you are doing if we see that you are truly objective. As our fathers told us “kill the snake in your house before you call yourself a snake-hunter!”)

Why Do They Want Us To Accept This Document?

The infamous Berlin Conference treaty included what is called the Principle of Effectivity.

The Principle of Effectivity stated that powers could hold colonies only if they actually possessed them: in other words, if they had treaties with local chiefs, if they flew their flag there, and if they established an administration in the territory to govern it with a police force to keep order (Uti Possidetis- Latin for “as you possess”, is a principle in international law that territory and other property remains with its possessor at the end of a conflict, unless provided for by treaty). The colonial power also had to make use of the colony economically. If the colonial power did not do these things, another power could do so and take over the territory. It therefore became important to get chiefs to sign a protectorate treaty and to have a presence sufficient to police the area.

As the Americans move in to control our state, they have satisfied almost all the conditions of this principle. Their flag (the logo of USAID with their flag) is present in almost all government departments and parastatals that they already control (also in NGOs and CBOs). They have established an administration in the name of “Civil Society Organisations”. A covert police force (and informers) so powerful, that our highest political officer dares not offend lest he is taken to the International courts (this is besides the terrorist police who are already operating despite the failure of the Anti-terrorism bill that was supposed to usher them in officially).

And now for the clincher- They want the masses (who are the sovereign in the country) to sign a document that binds them to a system of governance where a small group of people preside over a disempowered public. A document the people will be unable to change or replace. A document that goes against the principle of bottoms-up approach to power that is a true people government.

A document that creates an Imperial structure (with a throne), where the Praetorian Guard will determine who the puppet-king shall be. A puppet who like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (of Liberia), will say yes to the re-occupation of Africa by foreign forces (and values).

The same trinkets given in the 19th century to planted African “chiefs” to sell their people and heritage are today being given in the form of aid and project funding.

Are we more conscious than we were back then? Or is it true that Africans are indeed gullible apes?

You decide!

What is to be done?

We must reject this foreign backed process and document.

We speak not out of hate for anyone, but from Utu, the Spirit and Sense of unity, within which there is true love for humanity and for the equality and dignity of all.

We must be very clear that we are not siding with the likes of Ruto and Moi (who are defending their ill-gotten wealth) but that we are acting out of consciousness, understanding (of our history) and most of all, a deep love for our motherland.

We must then immediately start organizing ourselves.

We must organize in every village and neighborhood.

We must bring the people together in forums and peoples parliaments, where each and every person will have the space to express themselves.

We must express our most urgent needs as a people. We must listen to each others greatest fears, passions and inspirations.

We must solve our most immediate problems- First!

Let us contend on how will use all our land to feed our starving selves and not on how long we will lease it to foreigners.

Let us contend on how we will house each and every young couple in a permanent abode and not on how we will kill their babies cause they have nowhere to take them.

Let us discuss how will build a new nation on new values and identities and not let foreign religious ideologies that separate brother from brother.

Let us build families and communities; communities where your neighbor is your brother/sista regardless of which background they come from.

Then out of the communities, let us build a new nation. A nation of people, bound by the spirit of Utu!

Let the nation form the state. A state run by a people’s government!

A government of the people, for the people and by the People!

A nation of love!

[a is for] a video diary of The ‘Q’ werd

betwixt en between: m is for molisa(n.)

on love,  truth, justice & reconciliation

coming out stories

I (not-so) secretly would like to be married to jus 2 (or 2 more) of all the kings en queens that have walked on this earth en that live today….children of oya, ogun, shango (en others…)

I am a(n. Afrikan)  wom(b)an (been) in love with 2 (wo)men, all met betwixt en between, in another place not here (my story is not new)….  I confess that if I had my wishes fulfilled, I would be married to at least 3 queens en a king, yes I am (unfortunately nowadays marginalised for being) non-monogamous, that’s my coming out story.

 I confess that even though I’m ‘mostly’ out of the closet, in deference to overwhelming majorities, en the likelihood that ‘the one(s)’ might be one-woman-shacking-up type o’ folks, I have proven time en again to be not only willing to settle with monogamy, but secretly hope that I might be enough for one person. coz I really don’t know how many ‘partners’ I can handle, the truth is I’ve never actually being in a committed ‘non-monogamous relationship, so it’s fair to suppose that I might NOT  be non-monogamous in the first place at all, it could jus be a subjective ideal, a case of wishes & horses, or it could be my memory en hints in the fluidity of relationships, it could just be that monogamy is not appealing or logical to me (or many others), I mean why marry just one, if you could build a revolushunary village with 10? why NOT  have whatever your heart desires, as long as it’s consensual? And, technically one could argue that ‘monogamy’ is un-African, (one of the myriad of imposed imperialist/western values)

it’s simple really….in the end, I’ll have whoever I want to be with for life that not only wants to be with me, but shares my dreams en hopes for better lives, to raise pikney en farm (for real!), (re)build communities of love, justice, (peace) en truth

Ukweli ni, I’d be satisfied with  ‘one’ coz I haven’t met any yet that have wanted to marry not jus’ me, but a few others, besides the bigger point of THIS hadithi is not who I want to share my life with, but how we’re re/connecting with the ones we’ve been looking for….

 [C is] the crux: we ’ve heard (more than) a few hadithi about eshu, obatala, ogun, Olokun, orunmile, osanyin, oshun, oya, shango, en Yemoja, but only a couple of versions of mumbi en nambi. It (almost) always goes that mumbi births 9+1 daughtas with (a)G….., en nambi, daughta of G, marries kintu, at least that’s (part of) the crux. The bigger point is most of it seems to be lost under centuries of whitewash(ing), and our freedom is hinged on going back for not only what we have forgotten, but that, which has been distorted & exploited, like the story of c(ee),

n is for nneke/d. Is for: parts of herstory

See stories will only get us started, the rest of what we (don’t) say are our actions. The work we do to make our dreams happen, this IS the Q werd, a journey that begins with the realities of (more than 9+1) dadas.in.solidarity.

The interviews are real, the events are not fictional, these are OUR pan-afrikan postcards, in the spirit of the biggest holiday this moon, African Liberation Day, and in honour of ‘an ordinary African doing his best to unite his people’ (Taju)

Kesho, on (Agwambo Odera, Frederick Odhiambo, Gacheke Gachihi, George Nyongesa, Hilary Mulialia,  Onyango Oloo, Sam Ojiayo, Willy Mutunga, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem) 9 + 1 ALD kings (in the Q werd)