For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
Amos 5:12-13 (KJV)
In the Lord of the Rings movie Return of the King, there is a moment of great sadness and despair, when Aragorn and the army he leads are fighting before the Black Gate of Mordor. Inside Mordor, jealousy and selfishness for the Ring has taken hold of Frodo and he has put it on, making Sauron aware of its presence within the very centre of his domain. The battle begins to go hard on Aragorn and his army: they are vastly outnumbered, and the dark powers of evil, spurred on and strengthened by Frodo’s awful internal capitulation to self, are in the ascendancy.
For some strange reason, a measure of this sort of despair took hold on me when I heard that Jacob Juma had been murdered. I had not felt sorrow at the passing of a public figure before, and to date I can not explain why I felt this way: it felt like all the fighting, all the standing up for right and truth was in vain, needless, useless, capable of being ended by the gunhand’s bullet.
As Eric Ambler has written, “The important thing to know about an assassination… is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet.” Why was Jacob Juma killed? At this time we can only speculate, for in the absence of a credible investigation, we are making guesses – educated guesses, perhaps – about the fate that befell him. Until such an investigation is completed, we find ourselves in the realm of hearsay and rumour. We are forced to rely on an investigation that has little hope of bearing any fruit, for 40 years after Josiah Mwangi was murdered, we still have had no justice; 25 years after Dr. Robert Ouko allegedly fired a bullet into his head and then subsequently set himself alight, justice yet eludes us. It is at such times that we may find hope in reminding ourselves that there is indeed another Court.
Mutemi wa Kiama (or @WanjikuRevolt) provides his own thoughts on the motive for Jacob Juma’s killing as follows:
Another view, as espoused by Macharia Gaitho in his May 10 piece, is that Jacob Juma was killed for his outspoken criticism of the Jubilee Government.
Predictably, Jacob Juma’s death has taken on political overtones. A sad and embittered CORD has tried its best to use his murder to put pressure on the Government, while Jubilants are annoyed at the coverage his death has elicited and are attempting to brush it off as inconsequential or to write him off has having not been a saint. This I agree with: it is true that Jacob Juma was no saint. I question how a man would be able to buy land from Jonathan/Jennifer Moi without having certain dubious connections. I cannot vouch for the source(s) of his wealth. He claimed to have introduced William Ruto to Cyrus Jirongo in 1991, a statement that has YK’92 overtones. A hashtag on Twitter taking the form #KabetesWasNoSaint was trending just four days after his death. True as this may be, should everyone who is not a saint be gunned down in cold blood?
I detest corruption and what it has done to this nation. Yet I would be the last to say that the corrupt should be killed as we have heard is done in China. 30-year jail terms and the forfeiting of stolen wealth to the State are measures which, if properly and consistently taken, would solve our corruption problem at a stroke and without the further loss of life. Corruption has already killed too many: every child or adult that has died from preventable disease; every overloaded vehicle that made it past a manned police roadblock and subsequently crashed; every citizen slain by criminals as a result of insecurity; the 51 who recently died at Huruma as a result of faulty building approval mechanisms – life after precious, Kenyan life has already been lost through corruption, more blood-letting need not be done. God is the Giver of life and He can take it too; let us not presume to usurp His position and authority in this matter. This is why the murder of any man – Jacob Juma, or no – is wrong. His mother has lost her son. His wife/wives have lost a husband. His children have lost a father. But these are personal losses, more keenly felt for their intimate nature. Is there any loss to the nation?
In Jacob Juma, this nation had a wealthy man, beholden to no-one, with intimate knowledge of Government-sponsored corruption. He also had the exceedingly uncommon trait of being willing to let the public know about it. The uses to which he put this information – assisting CORD – we may not all agree with. Yet, by his death, critical information on Government-sponsored corruption will no longer be in the public domain. How does Kenya benefit from this state of affairs? Is she not the poorer for this fact? Is not impunity aided, indeed strengthened, by his demise?
And if we inwardly rejoice at this state of affairs, are we not, ourselves, corrupt?
We are in fact worse than corrupt, for we irrationally support the corrupt in their corruption, thereby accepting all of corruption’s horrible costs, while receiving none of its benefits.
I conclude by returning to the Scripture at the beginning. My Mum quoted me Amos 5:13 when news reached her that I had been blocked on Twitter by @WilliamSRuto (a situation, I am happy to report, that no longer persists). She convened a lunch meeting between herself, my Dad and I, and beseeched me to stop writing the things I write; saying that in evil times the prudent are silent. I promised her that I would pray about it.
So we who write and speak out on socio-political issues must ask ourselves: was Jacob Juma’s life worth anything? Does his death mean anything? Were the things he spoke about worth dying for? Is the price worth paying? Are there times when it is, and times when it isn’t?
If we keep silent, shall they not have won?
May evil find that though ten are struck down, ten thousand rise in their place to stand for what is right.