ainamoi mp shot dead

A policeman has shot dead Ainamoi MP David Kimutai Too in Eldoret. Also killed was a policewoman in the company of Mr. Too in what security chiefs are calling a crime of passion. The MP was in the company of the policewoman who is believed to have been the girlfriend of the suspect. The woman suffered gun shot wounds and died on arrival at the hospital. The police are treating this as a crime of passion and have arrested the responsible police officer. The suspect will appear in court tomorrow to answer to charges of double murder.

The murder of Mr. Too, a former principal of Boywek Secondary School, comes just days after another MP. Mr. Were was shot dead by gangsters outside his home in Nairobi. Both MPs belonged to the opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Immediately after the killing of Mr. Too riots were reported in towns in Western Kenya. Eldoret, Kisumu, Kericho and Siaya were scenes of violent protests by supporters of ODM.

The police commissioner has warned politicians not to use the latest murder to incite the public saying that there was no evidence that the murder was politically motivated.

Rwanda-esque hate speech on kenyan radio alarming

I read with shock and disbelief reports in the Telegraph that Kenyan vernacular radio stations belonging to Kikuyus, Luos and kalenjins have started having call-ins with the kind of language that helped stoke the fires of the Rwandan genocide. The report talked of a radio station referring to members of another ethnic group as “weeds” that “must be uprooted.” This is most alarming, especially in the wake of the fresh retaliatory violence that has brought life in most of the major urban centres in the Rift Valley province to a standstill.

The government should concentrate its efforts on the gutter press to ensure that this bad habit does not become acceptable to anyone, regardless of their ethnicity. Indeed it is the gutter press, be they the funny looking ten shilling papers or vernacular stations that are more likely to cause chaos than the more respectable establishments like KTN and NTV. I feel like instead of focusing so much on the mainstream media and curtailing their rights to have live broadcasts, the government should have instead moved swiftly to stop any of the vernacular radio stations or newspapers from airing or publishing anything that might be inflammatory. Indeed if this goes on the government should suspend the licenses of all vernacular stations until things calm down. We saw the power of the radio in Rwanda and so we should not sit back and watch as Kenya goes down that same path.

Freedom of speech is important. But only when the freedom is exercised without infringing on other people’s rights. Radio stations that allow the airing of any inflammatory comments should be shut down and the editors be given a generous jail sentence because anyone who uses the mass media to encourage murder should share the responsibility with the murderers if indeed they manage to persuade Kenyans to go out and kill their fellow countrymen.

This new development is most alarming especially after the recent counter-attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru seemed to have been pre-planned and also as news emerged that the earlier attacks in the Rift Valley were pre-planned as well.

otti confirmed dead, pouring cold water on negotiations

The former number two of the Lord’s Resistance Army – the rebel movement in Northern Uganda – Mr. Vincent Otti has finally been confirmed dead. The announcement was made by Southern Sudan’s vice president Mr. Riek Machar.

The death of Otti has cast doubts over the progress of the talks between the government of Uganda and the rebels as he was seen as the rational one among Joseph Kony’s top generals. Indeed it might be possible that it is his sobriety that prompted Kony to dispatch him as he was more likely to get a plum job in the Uganda government in case of a deal than the superstitious and somewhat uncultured Kony.

embakasi MP shot dead outside his house

Newly elected MP for Embakasi constituency in Nairobi, Kenya – Mr. Melitus Were has been shot dead outside his house. The ODM has issued a statement through its spokesman Tony Gachoka pointing fingers at the government and the Mungiki sect. Suspicion is also being directed at the immediate former member for Embakasi Mr. David Mwenje who has in the past publicly admitted to being in cahoots with the Mungiki terror gang.

The murder of the MP comes at a time when Kenya is faced with its worst crisis since independence. It is unclear how the residents of the populous Eastlands constituency will react to the news of the murder of their representative. Were was just sworn in recently after winning a bruising battle against the long time MP David Mwenje.

Police spokesman, Kiraithe said that they are not sure what the motive of the murder was and are not going to attribute it to the ongoing violence in various parts of the country, saying that it could have been an act of thuggery.

Reports indicate that Mr. Were was coming back home at about 12.30 am when two gun men approached his car outside his Woodley home and shot him, before fleeing without stealing anything.

19 burned to death in kenya

Sunday saw the most ghastly violence over the last one week in Kenya’s Rift Valley province. A group of 19, most of them school children were burnt to death in a house in the town of Naivasha as ethnic violence continued in this former oasis of peace and stability. The authorities and politicians seem to be unable to stop or even control the continuing violence. Their calls for calm have been met with deaf ears as more people continue to die in attacks and revenge attacks through most of the central Rift Valley region.

The latest attack brought grim memories of the Eldoret arson attack that left 50 dead, again most of them being children. And as this happened, the politicians – the root causes of the violence – could do nothing but continue to exchange accusations, pointing fingers at each other for being responsible for the killings.

The Rift Valley has seen the worst violence in the last month since the disputed December elections that plunged Kenya into chaos. The military has been deployed in the area, curfews imposed but all this seems to have not changed much. Angry youth, wielding all manner of crude weapons still roam the countryside, burning people’s houses and killing perceived enemies.

kenya slides into further chaos

At least ten people have been killed in Naivasha, Kenya following ethnic clashes that mostly pitted ethnic Kikuyus against ethnic Kalenjins and other ethnic groups that supported the ODM in last year’s general election. The attacks and counter-attacks seem to be turning into an uncontrollable monster as more and more jobless and bored youths join in the madness that has so far led to the death of more than 650 people.

The former UN boss, Kofi Annan, rightly observed that the chaos that followed the disputed elections have turned into something else. The attacks are no longer sporadic. They seem to be well planned and executed. The Kenyan government should move in quickly and arrest those who are organising these ghastly murders and destruction of both public and private property. Annan is scheduled to meet with Raila Odinga to further discuss the modalities of the desperately needed mediation effort between the latter’s party and the PNU of president Kibaki.

Kenyan leaders should act soon, in order to stop the violence from spreading into Nairobi and Mombasa – the country’s two largest cities. At the same time it should hasten the mediation effort in order to lower tensions and encourage reconciliation. The monster that is being created in these attacks and counter-attacks may mutate into something uglier if leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the ongoing killings are acts of hooliganism. The fact that the military is being used to police the Rift Valley means that the situation is bad. If the ODM and PNU really care about Kenyans they should realise that enough Kenyans have died for their greed and instead of being stubborn hammer out a deal that will bring peace soon and then proceed to address the fundamentals that are fueling the barbaric violence in the Rift Valley province and other areas.

africa headed for mdg disappointment

As African leaders continue to be preoccupied with civil strife and trying to hang on to power, figures indicate that the region will be the only place on the planet to have not met the millenium development goals by the deadline of 2015.

Child mortality, fertility, illiteracy, extreme poverty, among other indicators are still depressingly grim for this region of the world. The little or no growth experienced over the last two decades has all been swallowed up by a stratospheric fertility rate – all but one of the countries with fertility rates of more than 5 children per woman are in Africa. The number of Africans living in extreme poverty has increased by 90 million.

It is very depressing that the only people who seem to be disturbed by these aweful projections are non-Africans like Bono and Jeff Sachs and not the people who have contributed to the mess – the greedy, mostly illiterate kleptocrats who rule most of the continent.

If the trend is not reversed soon, the African future will be a re-run of post-79 Africa – a vast and dry continent that seems to have more than its fair share of famines, wars, disease and inexplicably high levels of poverty and suffering that belong in the premodern periods of human history. This is the reality that hundreds of millions of Africans are facing.

east africa the only region not in Ghana

As the Africa Cup of Nations tournament goes on in Ghana, one region of the world is conspicuously missing. The Eastern Africa region, with its history of poor performance is football, is a perennial absentee at this continental gala. All the other regions, North, South and especially West Africa are represented by various teams.

Perhaps it is time that the FAs of Eastern African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somali, Ethiopia, Burundi and Rwanda – got together to find a solution to the problem of underperformance by their teams. And money is not the issue. Uganda and Kenya have bigger economies than Benin but Benin managed to make it to the tournament. Even unstable Ivory Coast is in the tournament, and shining with its world famous stars.

The problem is not just in the national teams. This region’s leagues are also the weakest on the continent. Enyimba, Asante Kotoko, Obwasi Goal fields, Esperance, Zamalek, Pirates are all famous clubs from all the other regions who have won the continental club championship or featured prominently. None of these clubs is from Eastern Africa.

So as Eastern Africans sit back and enjoy the talents of the Drogbas and Essiens of the continent, they should also ask themselves why it is that their teams remain such underachievers when it comes to continental football.

the africa cup of nations, something to celebrate

The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations got off to a sizzling start with wins for all the tournament favorites that have played so far. Despite an embarrassing incident right before the Mali – Benin game, in which the floodlights went off, most of the organisation of the tournament has been done well.

Ghana deserves credit for having been able to provide stadia and other facilities necessary for the organisation of a tournament of this magnitude. The tournament also provides a brief period for the continent to forget about wars and droughts and famines and Aids and instead concentrate on the positive aspects of the continent that never make it to the front pages or headlines.

We thank the CAF and GFA for organising this wonderful tournament that gives Africans a chance to see their sons who play in Europe and elsewhere display their talents on African soil.

peace finally coming to the drc

Negotiators from the government and rebel movements in Eastern DRC have indicated that a deal could be made soon to end a war that has led to the loss of thousands of lives and displacement of more than 450, 000. General Nkunda, the leader of the main rebel movement in the East of this vast central African nation seems to have finally gave up his war of rebellion against Kinshasa which he claims is aimed at defending his Tutsi people from Hutu rebels from Rwanda.

The European Union and the United States have pledged to ensure that the deal goes through unhindered and have also promised to provide up to 150 million dollars to help in the reconstruction effort. Most of the regions infrastructure has been destroyed by years of conflict going back to the mid 90s during the Kabila rebellion.

This is welcome news coming from a region that has in recent past seen the flaring of tensions in Kenya, the former oasis of peace and stability. Stability in the DRC is vital for the entire region as this single nation has about 60 million people – a size-able market for the other countries’ struggling economies.

It is my hope that the peace agreement is comprehensive enough to settle the dispute once and for all so that Congolese can  for once concentrate on the project of economic development and modernisation.

the african problem

Sub-Saharan Africa is in dire straights. It is the most sick, hungry, poor and ignorant region of the world. It is a region infested with despots and illiberal democrats who for decades have led their nations to economy ruin and pre-modern tribal divisions and ways of living.

As the world watches one of this region’s promising nations descend into chaos, it is important for us to ask each other hard questions about the African Problem. I say the African Problem problem because it is not by chance that from Senegal to Somalia, Chad to South Africa, there is not much success to talk about. Poverty, disease and ignorance rule supreme.

We need to ask each other hard questions because racially sensitive Westerners (or Easterners for that matter) on whom we depend for most of “our” solutions will not ask us these questions; Is it our culture? Why haven’t we managed to shed the tribe in almost a decade into the 21st century? Why do we tolerate such appalling levels of mediocrity among us? Why don’t we demand more from our leaders? Why don’t we produce real leaders.

Our dictators compare woefully to those from other regions. Pinochet murdered Chileans, enriched himself, but also modernised the economy. Lenin had a weird ideology and some intellect behind his murderous leadership but he modernised Russia. Suharto did not run Indonesia into the ground. And now we turn to Africa: Samuel Doe, “Emperor” Bokasa, Iddi Amin, Obiang, Abacha and all the other Nigerian generals, Mobutu, Mugabe, Charles Taylor…. etc. This is a list of common criminals. Nearly all of them lack (ed) an iota of ideology behind their leadership, nearly all impoverished their people more than they were before, and all are a shame to all Africans. None of them knew what it means to be leader of a people or peoples.

These leaders got obscene amounts of wealth while their country men and women walked around naked, sick, hungry and ignorant.

How hard can it be? Why haven’t we succeeded in having successful socio-cultural and economic institutions that work for us? Does anyone care? Of what use is a million dollars to any African anywhere if Reuters is showing pictures of naked flood victims from Mozambique??? Why are we stuck in pre-modernity?

The many questions aside, the one thing that is clear is that Africa needs to change fast or it will never catch up with the rest of the world. We should not confuse pre-modern subsistence existence with culture. People live in mud houses and roam around with emaciated goats not because they love it but because they can’t afford or do not know any better.

kenya braces for more protests

Kenya seems to be headed for more protests after the opposition refused to follow a government directive banning all political protests in the country following last month’s disputed elections.

Just yesterday the opposition in a show of strength forced through the election of Kenneth Marende over the government’s preferred candidate for the position of speaker of the national assembly, the third most powerful office in the land.

In anticipation of possible violence and looting, many shops are expected to remain closed on Wednesday and police have been deployed throughout the country to ensure that peace prevails and possibly to break-up any opposition marches.

Many analysts, activists and lawyers have asked the government to lift the ban it has imposed on the media and against political rallies as these bans are in clear violation of Kenyans’ freedom of speech and assembly.

Any reasonable person, from either side of the political divide, must find it very disturbing that the same people who less than a decade ago were fighting for free press and freedom of assembly are the ones who now issue statements banning rallies and live broadcasts with abandon. Things never really change. Just people.

kenneth Marende elected speaker

The Kenyan opposition candidate Kenneth Marende has been elected speaker of the National Assembly. This is could be a glimpse of things to come in the country’s tenth parliament where the opposition has a majority over the government. By electing their own candidate for the speaker, the opposition has proven that it has full control of the house and will challenge the government through legal means over the disputed Dec 2007 elections.

The government candidate, long serving former speaker,  Francis Ole Kaparo, lost by four votes. The total tally of the votes was 105 against 101.

when will africa get it right?

A few months ago, after the Nigerian election, I read a piece in a leading international newspaper that said that Africa had yet again failed at democracy. The article infuriated me because it was a blanket write off of the entire continent as being undemocratic. I thought about Kenya, Senegal and Botswana as viable democracies that were capable of holding free and fair elections and which had freedom of the press.

But then Kenya happened. A country that was largely peaceful and with prospects of becoming a middle income country in the next decade and a half suddenly imploded and descended into never-before seen chaos. An election was stolen by a man who was viewed as one of the better behaved presidents on a continent infested with autocrats and dictators.

How, after all this, can we convince the world that Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the CAF, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Somalia, Chad, the DCR and all the others are isolated incidents? How are we going to convince ourselves that we are capable of running peaceful and prosperous countries when all that exist around us are chaos and murderous wars? Total failure?

It is true that countries like Botswana and Senegal still remain stable and democratic and also headed towards economic prosperity. South Africa is also doing quite well, although I am holding my breath to see what a Zuma presidency has in store for us. But the rest of the countries either have wars, or some form of instability and those that are peaceful have poverty rates that are utterly inhuman, to put it mildly.

It is extremely vital for the continent not to let a working model like Kenya sink into the same pit that has the Somalias of the continent. This is because many countries in East Africa depend on Kenya for their own economic success. A failed Kenya would mean no hope for Somalia and serious problems for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, Eastern DCR and Northern Tanzania. A failed Kenya will also mean a serious blow to the spread of democracy on the continent and especially East Africa. Besides Tanzania, Kenya was the only other democracy in the region. Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi all have autocrats who would happily use Kenya as an excuse for them to stay in power.

kenyan talks collapse, more violence expected

Kenya seems to be headed for more chaos as talks between the government and the main opposition party over disputed elections collapsed on Thursday. The opposition then reacted to this by announcing three days of street protests throughout the country in an attempt to force the government to resign.

The government is yet to react to the call for fresh protests. Last time the opposition tried to go to the streets they were met by paramilitary officers with clubs and water canons. A few were shot dead in the Western cities of Kisumu and Eldoret, the hot beds of opposition support.

By refusing to allow mediation to work, the two leaders in the midst of the current chaos, Kibaki and Raila, risk plunging this former oasis of peace on the continent of Africa into yet another failed African state. The economy has lost more than a billion dollars since December 27th and the stock market continues to record losses – five percent of its value has already been wiped off thanks to the violence.

True to a Swahili proverb, when two elephants fight its the grass that suffers – as Kibaki and Raila lock horns in their struggle for power it is the ordinary poor Kenyans that are feeling the pinch, more than anyone else. Prices have shot up since violence erupted in late December and more than 500 people have died already. A panel of mediators led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is expected into the country to try and mediate a settlement between Raila and Kibaki. The government has already shown its unwillingness to cooperate by insisting that the country needs no mediators as it is not in a state of war.