Preliminary Thoughts on Foreign Influence

A U.S. soldier radios base, watched by displaced villagers, Mogadishu Image courtesy of: REUTERS/Dan Eldon  (SOMALIA)

A U.S. soldier radios base, watched by displaced villagers, Mogadishu
Image courtesy of: REUTERS/Dan Eldon (SOMALIA)

I have been reading the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman. In the third-to-last chapter of the book, the following quote from the New York Times of 14 April 2002 is included:

[The United States] supported authoritarian regimes throughout Central and South America during and after the cold war in defense of its economic and political interests.

In tiny Guatemala, the Central Intelligence Agency mounted a coup overthrowing the democratically elected government in 1954, and it backed subsequent right-wing governments against small leftist rebel groups for four decades. Roughly 200,000 civilians died.

In Chile, a C.I.A.-supported coup helped put Gen. Augusto Pinochet in power from 1973 to 1990. In Peru, a fragile democratic government is still unraveling the agency’s role in a decade of support for the now-deposed and disgraced president, Alberto K. Fujimori, and his disreputable spy chief, Vladimiro L. Montesinos.

Folks, allow me to repeat that that is a quote from the New York Times .

It is human nature to read this kind of narrative and begin to draw parallels between it and one’s own experience. (Human nature errs also; we sometimes inflate our own importance.) It is therefore difficult to read this article and find innocence in Raila’s sojourns in the US this year, or innocence in the speeches he made during his visit and upon his return. While in the U.S. he criticized Jubilee for blanket condemnation of an entire community (i.e. for targeting Somalis’ in its investigations on terrorism) – fairly inflammatory talk at a time when grenades were going off in matatus and markets. In the Uhuru Park speech he gave upon his return, he (at that time) gave Jubilee 60 days to convene national dialogue, prompting fears that CORD was seeking regime-change.

Let us add to this knowledge the fact that we have struck oil. Or rather that – perhaps more ominously – Western companies have struck oil in northern Kenya. Oil has been a major factor in many bitterly tragic tales of US neo-colonialism: in Iran in 1953; in Iraq in 1991 and in 2003; in Venezuela in a failed coup attempt in 2002; and in all likelihood Libya in 2011 to name but a few examples. The fact that Kenya has reserves of oil gives cause for a deepening of already grave concerns.

It is alleged that as Minister for Energy, Raila orchestrated the entry into the Kenyan market of Bakri Energy, a wealthy Arabian conglomerate; his brother Dr. Oburu Odinga is an active Director in the company (I was told this by a man who was a staff member of Bakri at the time). If this is true, then Raila Odinga is no stranger to the Machiavellian interplay between politics and wealth that always impoverishes a nation’s citizens.

Having carefully weighed all these issues, it becomes us to be extremely wary of the kind of foreign influence that does not directly benefit the Kenyan people (China is no saint, and this is why looking East is a fallacy that Jubilee itself has abandoned). We need the West’s markets for our tea, our horticultural products, our coffee, our tourism, and in future (we hope) our oil. We also need the East’s infrastructure and its technology. But these trades must be done on terms that are fair to Kenya and to all her people, and not merely a select political few.

Happy New Year, and may God bless the nation of Kenya.

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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in Economics, Politics


The Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014

In the run-up to either the first or the second referendum on a new Constitution, I recall my Dad drily remarking that we did not need a new Constitution in order to jail certain corrupt individuals. He was right. Now, as then, we are being asked to believe that new laws are necessary in order to contain a new threat – terrorism. And now, as then, we need to carefully examine whether this is true.

The Security Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014, has a broad scope and seeks to make numerous changes to the law. It includes some excellent provisions, such as:

  1. Changes to the Immigration Department functions and operations that require applicants for work permits to apply for them while still outside the country;
  2. The strengthening of the Evidence Act to allow digital evidence and to allow any police officer (as opposed to a particular one) to submit evidence;
  3. Changes to the Investment Promotion Act that require investors to be sponsored by Kenyan citizens (this is how Gulf states have kept their wealth within their own nations);
  4. Changes to the Labour Institutions Act that require employment agencies to obtain Government approval before sending Kenyan citizens abroad.

However, like the proverbial Trojan Horse, the Bill slips in a lot of bad with the good. Let’s look at 4 key areas.

What is terrorism?

The first point to note is that the new Bill does not in fact define terrorism. It also speaks of acts of terrorism, without defining what these may be. This ambiguity and open-endedness is a grave concern. If terrorism can be construed to mean almost anything, hundreds of people could be arrested as “terrorists” without explanation. Then there are further provisions that rest on the concept of the undefined concept of terrorism, for example: “A person who publishes or utters a statement that is likely to be understood as directly or indirectly encouraging or inducing another person to commit or prepare to commit an act of terrorism commits an offence.” In the absence of a definition for terrorism or terrorist acts, publishers and the media are at risk of being jailed for up to 14 years (there are no fines) for publishing whatever the Government decides has “indirectly encouraged a person to prepare a to commit an act of terrorism.”


Public Order

The new Bill states: “Any person who unlawfully convenes, organizes or promotes a public rally, meeting or procession or neglects or refuses to comply with any law relating to public meetings commits an offence… The Cabinet Secretary may by notice in the Gazette designate the areas where, and times at which public meetings, gatherings or public processions may be held.” It is a matter of great puzzlement to many as to how these provisions will help us to fight terrorism. Terrorists are not known to hold public meetings/gatherings or processions. So who exactly does this law target? Concerned citizens who try to hold an ineffective Government accountable by holding peaceful demonstrations? In a democratic society the right to demonstrate should be protected, and indeed our Constitution enshrines it in Article 37. Indeed it has been said that public outcry at the President’s assertion that security and safety is the citizens’ own responsibility and the subsequent demonstrations contributed to the dismissals of the Immediate former Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and the Inspector-General of Police. We would do well to continue to protect this right.


Interception of Communications Without Warrant

The new Bill also allows the national security organs to intercept communication without warrants. We understand the grave risks associated with terrorism but this provision can also be construed as a contravention of Article 31 of the Constitution (The Right to Privacy), which accords every person the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed. It may have been better to have a way to expedite terrorism-related search warrants in the Courts, rather than create the potential for Kenyans’ right to privacy to be revoked.


Security of Tenure

The principle of security of tenure is supposed to ensure that a competent person is able to perform their official duties without the fear of being sacked. The risk, of course, is that an incompetent person may be appointed to the position, in which case the security of tenure would protect the office-holder rather than the public. The Constitution mitigates for this in at least two ways. The first way is that the office-holder can be removed for incompetence. The second way is through (Parliamentary) vetting. The President’s nominees to various positions are supposed to be subjected to scrutiny by a supposedly objective Parliament (representatives of the people) such that ineffective people are weeded out at this stage.

Unfortunately, rather than appoint the best individual for the job, our leaders tend to appoint someone with a view to balancing tribal mathematics, (in)competence notwithstanding. Parliament, believing that opposing the President’s choice is playing into the Opposition’s hands, rubber-stamps the President’s choice (a process that is even further compromised by despicable tendencies such as the tyranny of numbers). When the individual proves incompetent, it then proves constitutionally difficult to remove them.

The way to solve this problem is to appoint competent people to office, and to use the grounds of incompetence to remove them, or else have them resign (as we have seen). Not to revoke security of tenure.



The Government would have us believe that to oppose the new Bill is to be on the side of the terrorists. This is a dangerous and fallacious argument. If we take this thinking to its logical conclusion, it will not be long before the act of opposing Government incompetence and corruption will fall neatly into the vague non-definitions of terrorism we saw earlier. Insecurity in this country is not a legal problem. Our borders are porous – a fact that was most crudely illustrated by the fact that our President’s own escort vehicle was stolen and somehow conveyed into Uganda. Corruption and graft are endemic – the rampant smuggling of sugar and charcoal across the Somali border has the political backing of wealthy politicians. There are now about 10,000 police assigned to guard VIPs – about a quarter of the police force if a 2010 report is to be believed. There is no accountability in the security forces – it is only two weeks ago, over one year after Westgate, that we saw senior officials being held to account for incompetence.

We do not require new laws to solve these problems. What is required is the enforcement of existing laws.


Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Politics


Caught Part III – Jail

Gaoled (Photo Credit: Black Politics Today)

Gaoled (Photo Credit: Black Politics Today)

They had just finished cleaning it. The Kibera Law Courts jail is best described as a square room with a long, continuous, narrow (and of course heavily-grilled) window running along the top (next to the ceiling). Within the larger square of the jail is a smaller square in one corner. This smaller square comprises what we shall politely call the ablutions. The trouble with the ablutions is that the wall of the ablutions does not extend all the way up to the ceiling of the containing main room/square. For this reason, the smell stink stench that inexorably rises up from the jailhouse facilities permeates determinedly through the entire room. Doubly so if the door is open. Deciding whether to endure higher concentrations of the malodourous fumes seeping from that toilet in order to go and close the toilet door and thereby lessen the fumes is a taxing exercise in circular logic. But apart from this, the jail was actually pretty clean.

I asked the cops supervising the jail if one could perhaps offset their fine and the cash bail.

“Ati off-nini? Offset? Hapana huwezi offset fine yako na bail yako Boss, we toa kimbelembele yako hapa. Kaa huko na ungojee mtu wako.”

I set about finding a way to pay the fine. I called a friend of mine who gave me a rider’s number and also sent that rider KES 7,000 to deposit at the bank for my fine (thank you so much!). This rider seemed quite well-versed in proceedings.

“Pole sikusikia call yako, nilikuwa na-ride bike.”

“Sawa tu, ulipata SMS yangu iko na hizo account details?”

“Nimeiget. Nikuulize…?


“Uko mashimoni?”

“Ee, mazeh…”

[Merry laughter] “Wacha nta-come saa hii.”

He and I haggled a bit about the cost of what he was doing for me, and I ended up paying him KES 720. I should probably have paid him KES 500 (though we did start off at 1K). But he knew exactly what needed to be done, reliable chap. What the extra 20 bob was for, we shall come back to later.

Moving swiftly on

In about an hour, the trusty rider on his noble steed boda-boda had arrived, bank slip in hand, and obtained a receipt which he was able to use to have me released.

Once your fine has found its circuitous and serpentine way into the labyrinth that is the Judiciary’s coffers, there remains the small matter of recovering your bail. As you know, the purpose of paying bail is to make sure you appear in court. If you do appear in court, you are entitled to a refund of said bail. The process beggars belief. You see, when you post bail you pay it either to the cops on the road, or you pay it at a cop station. The police station to which those cops are attached, or the station at which you pay it, is important here. Because on the day you appear in court, dear reader, an officer from that particular cop station must come with the bail that you paid during the weekend and return the very bail you posted. So when I asked for my bail I was asked:

“Station gani?” 


“Haya ngojea hapo.”

Luckily mine came before my trusty rider arrived because a lady officer from Kabete Police Station was already at the Law Courts with the money. My bail was selected from a sheaf of notes that appeared miraculously from quite literally under her belt. One hapless offender was slightly less fortunate. He had posted his bail at Kiserian Police Station and was appearing before the Magistrate at the Kibera Law Courts. This poor fellow availed himself in court, his case was heard, judgement was passed, he tumana’d to KCB Account No ___________, his fine was paid, the deposit slip was brought, a receipt was obtained, it was presented at the cells, and he was released…

…then he had to wait for the ka-Landrover to come all the way from Kiserian Police Station, negotiating Bomas traffic and all, to bring his bail.


The small matter of my rider's motorbike (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The small matter of my rider’s motorbike (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Friends, I don’t know which reforms Chief Justice Mutunga, former Registrar Shollei and Inspector-General Kimaiyo have been carrying out, but as a recent though temporary guest of the State I believe I am well-qualified to say that I am yet to see them. Is it not the Kenyan Judiciary and Police they have been reforming? Juu mi’ sioni! What an inefficient system! You miss work, the guy who you call to run that errand for you is also not working… in this day and age where we have computers, MPesa, and man has been to the moon, if someone has to wait for someone else to pay their own fines for them at the bank then come and get them out of jail, we must be reforming backwards.

I further fail to understand why money has to be physically brought from Kiserian to Kibera in a police vehicle for offenders to get their bail refunds. The powers that be in the Kenya Police must similarly be using a very loose definition of the term “reform”. At some point I began to think that I had ended up in hot soup in order to see these things for myself.

Before I conclude, dear reader, you may recall that I promised to return to the small matter of why I paid the rider KES 720 instead of KES 700. Do you know what the 20 bob was for? It was so that the rider could pay the askari at the gate of the Kibera Law Courts so that his motorbike was not stolen therefrom while he was getting me out. Yes. We live in a country where your motorbike can actually be stolen from the premises of the Law Courts themselves. Ati a guy just comes in wearing those fluorescent jackets emblazoned “Waititu for Governor”, hotwires the thing and disappears.

In the language of the court, I rest my case.


Caught Part II – In Court

In Court

In Court (Photo Credit: Neo Today)

To be honest, I toyed with the idea of not going to court and foregoing bail since I had my licence back, but the lawyer we met on Saturday advised me to go to Court. So it was that on Sunday I called my boss and explained the situation, and on Monday I went to court. I was there before 8:00 am but Courts rarely start sitting before 9:00 am. Take your time if this ever happens to you.

The session began, and a number of cases were read out before mine was. It was through these cases that I discovered what happens if you don’t appear in court. The process is as follows:

  1. Your name is called out.
  2. The prosecutor reads out your sin(s).
  3. If you’re present, the judge decides whether there will be a hearing that day (lengthy cases, perhaps crimes). If it’s an offence he/she will pass judgement.
  4. HOWEVER if it is established that the accused has not deigned to appear in court the judge simply says: “Cash bail forfeited to the State, warrant of arrest issued.” Next!

So the chance you’re taking by not appearing in court is that the police won’t come looking for you. It’s perhaps a risk worth taking, except that they ask for your phone number when you’re paying bail, so if they really wanted to they could nab you. But I think they have neither the time nor the motivation to look for a traffic offender. If they do look for you, and if they find you, dear reader rest assured that your bail-posting days are over. You will be hauled by the seat of your over-speeding pants straight to jail until court time.

Anyway, court was pretty quick. I stood up when I was called, I confirmed that the allegations were correct, and the Judge fined me KES 7,000. I had heard horror stories of KES 30,000 (the Naivasha court is particularly notorious) so on balance, it wasn’t too bad…

…or so I thought. For that was when the fun and games began.

Paying your fine

Some of the still-available payment methods in the Kenyan judicial system (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Some of the ancient payment methods still applicable in the Kenyan judicial system (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

I had carried KES 20,000 to Court, so I was ready to pay. But my spirited and determined efforts to pay my fine were thwarted by the belated discovery that one is not in fact allowed to pay one’s own fine. I abruptly found myself being escorted at a brisk pace to the Kibera Law Courts gaol. During this regrettably short journey I was brusquely informed by yet another officer of the law that I had to locate and instruct someone who could go and:

  1. Deposit the cash for me in KCB Account Name “Judiciary Kibera Law Courts” Account no __________________
  2. Bring the deposit slip to Kibera Law Courts
  3. Obtain a receipt from the Kibera Law Courts
  4. Present it at the cells and thereby
  5. Get me released.

I told the cop who was taking me to jail that I had brought myself to court, so it was unlikely I’d run away post-judgement. I actually asked him to let me go pay and come back. Ah the naïveté of ignorance…

“Hatufanyangi namna hiyo Boss. Tafuta mtu aende akulipie. Na ni kwa nini hukuongea na officer?”

“Hapana, unajua mi sihongangi…”

“Sisemi kuhonga…” [I honestly don’t know what else he meant, and he did not take the trouble to elaborate.]

Suddenly, I was in jail.

Next: Jail


Caught Part I – Flagged Down

Flagged Down

#ThatVeryAwkwardMoment (Photo credit: Afro Autos)

I had been wondering why all the cars, buses, matatus were going up that hill in one long line on the right-hand lane of the dual carriageway. Kumbe it was so that cops couldn’t spot their number-plates and flag them down for speeding. I pulled out to the left to overtake the dawdling queue and was promptly flagged down myself. The cop asked for my licence and I gave it to him, following which he informed me that I had been driving at 118 kph instead of 110 kph.

Naturally, there ensued what we shall call a warm discussion. Since it was very likely that I had been doing 118 kph earlier, and since I had been told that the evidence is incontrovertible (a photo of your car, superimposed with the illegal speed at which it has recently been travelling), I began by trying to tell the policeman that really 8kph above the limit was not that much. He asked me: “Wewe unataka tusimamishe watu wanaenda spidi ya ngapi?” (“At what speed would you prefer us to start flagging people down?”)

I advised myself to abandon this line of argument.

Pressing his point home, the policeman helpfully showed me the cash-bail receipt of an individual who’d been doing 114 kph instead of 110 kph. My sin began to look blacker and blacker. I comforted myself when I saw that there was a Subaru B4 driver who had been caught doing a rather nippy 144 kph.

Since I couldn’t convince the cop to let me off, I decided to bite the bullet. I believe if you’ve done wrong and the law catches you, then you should allow yourself to be dealt with as the law stipulates. One simple way of fighting corruption is by not being corrupt. Simple, I said. Not necessarily easy.


Bail (Photo Credit: Business Daily

Bail (Photo Credit: Business Daily)

Now you see, for offences including traffic offences (different from crimes), one is supposed to be taken to court immediately, where the magistrate pronounces your judgement haraka-upess. Except it was the weekend. So courts were not in session. So I couldn’t be taken to court. So I was supposed to go to jail, until such time as the courts would open on Monday. Only that this could be avoided by paying bail. But bail was KES 5,000. Which I didn’t have.

Huna kwa MPesa?


Haya we ngojea hapo, tuite polisi mwenzetu kutoka Kabete (we were towards LIMURU), akupeleke ATM, utoe pesa, ukuje station, ulipe bail.

“Officer uko na licence yangu. Wacha nikimbie niwithdraw, halafu nilete Kabete.”

“Hapana! Licence zimejaa kwa station, hatuachiliangi watu namna hiyo siku hizi.”

And so it was that I had to wait until a policewoman came all the way from Kabete Police Station and was assigned to me to ensure that I paid bail. I had been rushing to meet my good friend and our lawyer over something, so I called ahead to let them know I’d be late. When the policewoman arrived, she was given my licence, and we got into the car and set off for the nearest ATM.

“Mbona umekasirika namna hiyo?” [Standard Police/Government procedure is to put you on the back foot and/or on the defensive and then take things from there]

“Hapana sijakasirika officer.” And truly I wasn’t annoyed.

“Sasa utalipa namna gani?”

“Nataka tu nikimbie kwa ATM ni-withdraw, halafu turudi Kabete.”

“Bank gani?”


“ATM iko wapi?”


“Aiiii… huko ni mbali sana, mi siwezi enda mpaka huko. We fanya hivi, tukifika Kabete, uingie police station uache gari yako hapo kwa station. Panda matatu kutoka Kabete mpaka Westlands, utoe pesa halafu urudi Kabete Police Station ulipe bail ndio tukupatie gari yako we uende.”

“Hapana officer, Westlands sio mbali sana, na hatutachukua muda mrefu. Twende tu.”

“Uko na lunch?” [No doubt that while creating the problem, this was what the cunning female had been leading up to all along]

“Officer, kama ni lunch, wacha twende tu police station.”


“Haya basi, twende u-withdraw.”

At the Mobil opposite Njuguna’s I spotted a StanChart ATM, so I managed to withdraw a lot quicker than we had anticipated. Afterwards we went to the police station, I posted bail, they took down my phone number, receipted my payment, returned my driving licence, and advised me to be at Kibera Law Courts on Monday morning. Happily, considering the circumstances, I got to the meeting only 30 minutes late.

Next: In Court


Christians in a troubled land




Things are not good. A potent mix of Jubilee-ism vs CORD-ism (the collective term for which is tribalism), Jubilee’s incompetence, Raila Odinga’s irresponsible rallies, and recent events in Mpeketoni together mean that this country is at a dangerous point in its history. The nation is headed towards calamity, and we ourselves with it.

As Christians, we need to pray for this country now, more than at any time since 2007-08. We may not be in positions of power and influence. We may not hold cabinet positions. But we do know God – or we claim to. We claim that when we pray, He hears us and He answers.

In fact, we might say, we are praying. We are praying every Sunday in our churches for God to help this nation. Yet each week the country gets progressively worse.

Friends, this might come as news to some of us, but clearly, God is not listening. We should by now have discovered by long and painful experience that God is not hearing our prayers. We can’t say God is hearing and yet there was Westgate. We can’t say He is answering when after Westgate there was Thika Superhighway, when after Thika Superhighway there was Gikomba, and when after Gikomba, there was Mpeketoni.

We need to understand that He is not listening.

And then we need to ask ourselves why.

To my way of seeing it, it is no wonder that God is not moving when we pray, because when we pray we pray whilst harbouring (even nursing) biases within ourselves. Far too often, when a minister, a bishop, a well-meaning father or a concerned mother says “Let us pray for this country”, what he/she really means is “Let us pray for those areas in this country with whom we are politically aligned, and the people therefrom. The rest don’t matter.”

Friends, we cannot hate Kikuyus and pray for Kenya and be heard, because Kikuyus are also Kenyans. We cannot hate Luos and pray for Kenya and be heard, simply because Luos are also Kenyans. We must understand that our fate is tied in with each other’s fate. If we live, love and work in the same country, then we have one fate. Your fate is mine, and mine is yours, because we live in this one country. Nothing would prove this more emphatically than a civil war where we all would suffer horribly, as we shall see below… but we shall come to that.

God says in Ezekiel:

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”

God searched for just one man who could stand in the gap for an entire land and couldn’t find him. It would appear that He is still searching, and that is why though we pray every Sunday, the bombs keep going off, the corruption continues, and the country continues to deteriorate.

 Do we think that God hates Kikuyus? Might He hate Kalenjins? Might He hate Kambas? Might He hate Luos? If He does, then let us continue praying the same prayers, and thereafter expect the same results (or lack thereof). But if, perhaps, we are accommodating within ourselves biases that God Himself does not have; if He is as much a Father to “them” as He  is to “us”; if He cares about “them” as much as He cares about “us”, then we need to repent. Not them. Until we become aware that the problems Kenya has, we as Christians are harbouring these same problems in our own hearts, we can’t even start with God. We should cease to pray for Kenya. It would behoove us, rather, to pray for ourselves. We need to apologize to God for hating our brothers and sisters that He Himself made and whose welfare He is concerned about. We need to pray for ourselves until we are at a point where we can entreat God for every county in this nation with little variance in concern. Strangely, in praying for ourselves, we shall find that we have managed to pray for Kenya. Then God can begin to move.

 As we pray, we need to ask God to give us a love for this whole nation and all of its people whether or not they even agree with us. Whether or not they agree with us? Yes. You see, up to now while we were hating our countrymen, God has still loved us, even when His point of view and ours have differed. If we claim to be His children, we need to extend that same kind of tolerance and patience to our own countrymen, no matter where they’re from.

 I will end with a word of warning from one Kariuki Gachoki that came to my attention on Facebook. It succinctly captures the consequences of continuing along the path we are going.


Let me dissect for you the chronology of ‘Rwanda in the making’.

When the first cannon is fired, you will celebrate and bay for ‘their’ blood. Reports will start trickling in that some enemies have been killed in Coast, Rift Valley and the shanties in Nairobi. This will turn your celebration into a frenzy.

Four days later, the mood will change. As you are no longer getting the basic provisions such as food, your celebration will be cut short to attend to more urgent matters, that is, fending for yourself.

Two weeks down the line, when your energy levels have ebbed to the lowest, reports will reach you that your enemy has regrouped and is coming for your neck and that of your loved ones. You will now abandon the quest for food and attend to the matter of saving your own life. International news media will show you and your kin carrying mattresses heading to a safe haven, most likely a church. You will reach the church and much to your horror, find thousands of people, many from your perceived enemy tribe also camped there, fighting for the little provisions donated by the UN. That night it will rain heavily and exposed, hungry, scared and nursing a deep machete wound on your most loved one’s forehead, the slow realities of ‘Rwanda in the making’ will start sinking in. If you are still surviving one month down the line, 30kgs down from your usual weight, you will start wondering who is fighting who, since the camp is cosmopolitan and you are all fighting for basic survival not caring who comes from which tribe. But that’s just the beginning.

The next day, your camp will be raided, 5 of your loved ones will be slaughtered and you will be lucky to escape with a bullet wound on your right leg. UN will now heap you into lorries and transfer you to another camp. In excruciating pain and feverish from your infected leg, the second reality of war will hit you: what is the fight all about? You will die 3 days later – from neglect really since people around you are too used to seeing others die to bother about the feeble groans coming from your leaking tent.

Four months later, corpses, including yours, will be buried in a mass grave as the lieutenants that started the war sit at a table in some hotel in Kampala to craft another ‘power-sharing’ deal. There will be relative calm as the vultures enjoy the spoils of war. The politicians will be back to their cosy offices…

When the drums of war are sounded, everyone is a theoretical winner but the reality is so different a few months later. What’s more, war does not guarantee equality, it dehumanizes and traumatizes people. Every little thing you’ve worked for goes. I will leave you with this: a certain tribe is not your enemy. People that sit in ivory towers from all political persuasions and subdue you are.

 Change will come when you start demanding accountability right from your county upwards.

 Have a blessed and peaceful day.”


Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Christian, Religious, Spiritual


Thoughts on the Night Travel Ban

Gateway to Auckland

Photo credit: Man’s Pic / / CC BY-NC-ND

The National Transport and Safety Authority recently introduced new rules that included a ban on night travel by Passenger Service Vehicles (PSVs) in the country.

Let me start by saying that if you haven’t used a matatu for a couple of years, please try it! And carry your kids along. That is how the majority of Kenyans live, but once we have been “blessed with a car” and start using it to get around, we forget very, very quickly. Personally, I fear that this ban has been effected by elitists who haven’t used public transport in the last decade. Perhaps these policymakers can’t remember when they last went to “Shagz” by bus. Perhaps their children are dropped off at school by drivers. Perhaps they buy their veggies at Galleria as opposed to Marigiti. There is nothing wrong with living like that at all, but that is not how the majority of Kenyans live, and policy should be made with the interests of the majority in mind (the greatest good).

Now I’m certainly not condoning loss of life. We should protect every Kenyan’s life (from Westgate to Ntulele to Moyale), for every Kenyan’s life is invaluable. Undeniably, the directive has reduced road carnage, and another very good outcome is that the bus companies are feeling the pinch and beginning to understand the importance of safety. But to punish travellers for the sins of operators doesn’t really make sense.

Take for example the case of the trader who travels to Uganda by night, buys goods during the day (kitenge material I hear), and travels back with them the following night. He/she now has to spend two nights in Uganda, on top of the transport cost. That extra cost will be shared with his/her customer, or at worst just loaded onto them.

Rather than pulverizing mosquitos with hammers, let us start from the point that matatus have been forced to operate within savings and credit cooperatives (saccos). The Government should stipulate that any bus company/matatu sacco/PSV marque whose vehicle is involved in a road accident with a fatality/serious injury should be banned from having ANY of their vehicles on the road for a month. Further, if a company has three fatal accidents within a specified period (say 2 years) then the Directors of that company (or the owners of matatus in that Sacco) should be permanently banned from operating PSVs (to prevent the Directors from just starting new companies).

These two measures may not be entirely fool-proof, but:

  1. They’re simple,
  2. They can be implemented immediately,
  3. They allow night travel to continue,
  4. They’re a little easier to implement than ensuring there are working speed governors in every vehicle, or giving the police handheld speed cameras (these sorts of measures merely become a personal source of revenue for police),
  5. Most importantly, they shift the responsibility for road safety away from the travellers, away from the (massively corrupt) traffic police, and onto the vehicle owners, where it belongs.

Finally, at the root of the carnage in the transport sector is the corrupt nature of the traffic police. Inevitably, buses like the one that crashed at Ntulele have passed numerous road-blocks before their doom. We should remember that any lasting solutions to our troubles should involve as little human intervention as possible; more detailed and rigid solutions, especially involving GPS trackers, can be implemented.

But we can start with those two simple directives.


Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Economics, Life in Kenya, Politics


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