africa continues to be myopic and ready for the picking

So I keep reading stories about foreign governments like China, the Gulf States and South Korea that are planning on buying millions of acres of Africa’s arable land in order to provide food security for their citizens. From what I gather, most African governments are eager to sell 100 year leases in order to make a quick buck and then for 100 years condemn their countrymen and women to being near-slaves to foreigners in their own countries. How more stupid can our leaders get?

As a continent, Africa is the most food insecure place on the planet. Millions depend on food aid, even in supposedly more developed countries like Ghana, Kenya and Senegal. Some countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and nearly all of the Francophone Sahel have never known food security for decades. They have been permanent recipients of aid from the US and the World Food Program. It makes you wonder why it is not these governments making deals with their fellow African countries to guarantee the continent some food security.

Food production is what propelled human civilization. Mesopotamia, the Indus-Gangetic Valley, the Nile Valley, were all organised with an aim of improving food production so as to free up talent for other more meaningful human endeavors. Africa, nearly 12,000 years later, still cannot afford to feed its own people. It is not a question of land or water. The great lakes regions can feed the entire continent and still have a surplus. With the exception of the South West African countries and the Sahelian states, all of Sub-Saharan African countries ought to be food-secure. The fact that they are not is simply and squarely because of poor leadership.

And now these same inadequate leaders want to sell the land to foreigners. I am assuming that when foreign governments buy land they’ll treat it like they do with their embassies – provide their own security and run the show by their own rules. I wonder how different this will be from an outright recolonization of the African continent by more developed and better run countries.

We are still in the woods. And we are screwed for the foreseeable future. Like it is not even funny anymore. Our Mugabes, Obiangs and Zenawis continue to fail us big time. How hard can it be to run a country? Like seriously.

mps should pay taxes…… and look at the poverty figures

I was not particularly surprised when I read that Kenyan MPs had yet again threatened to cripple the government by denying it funds if the Minister of Finance mandated them to pay taxes. I was not surprised because our MPs are mostly selfish, vision-less clowns. They are leaders by name and nothing else. Kenya is a third world country with a dismal economic record and yet they earn salaries comparable to those of MPs in the developed world. And it is not a question of rewarding talent. These clowns do not show up for work most of the time. Many of them are not particularly smart – judging by the nonsense they constantly spew on tv and by their lifestyles. They have failed to forge a national identity or patch up a Kenyan national narrative to make us all feel like we are one people with one teleological trajectory.

I am disappointed at Raila and Kibaki. These two men have sat on the sidelines and let the MPs refuse once again to pay taxes. They can raise their salaries at will but refuse to pay taxes. It is time we took away their power to pay themselves or determine whether they paid taxes or not.

And as we do that we should make sure that all of them have an idea about just how poor Kenyans really are. I don’t think these clowns have an idea about this. Otherwise they would be ashamed into doing something about it. If they knew Ruto and Raila would not be talking at each other through the media like they do not have each other’s phone numbers. If they knew PNU would get its act together and finally serve the people instead of having weird power plays four years out of the next election. If they knew God knows they would bury the ghost of tribalism once and for all. But they don’t. They really don’t. And because of that 97% of members of Turkana Central live below the poverty line. The figures from many other districts are not any different. It is a sad dystopia we live in.

when will we have lasting political parties?

True democracy is not just about holding elections every five years. It is also about having a constructive deliberative process. A process that focuses on issues. This is only possible with the creation of important institutions to mediate this process. In a true democracy, political parties are just as important as the legal provision for loyal opposition. Disorganized and unarticulated opposition is just as bad as, if not worse than, having a single party state. It breeds instability and degenerates into politics of contingency.

Sadly, Kenya’s democratic experiment is once again emerging as having failed. With the formation of PNU and ODM, I was hopeful that these two parties would consolidate and dig in their heels to become the peddlers of policies to the people. But sooner than later PNU started unravelling. Now we have ODM going throught the same trials. Members of parliament from the Rift Valley are threatening to quit the party – on what appears to be purely tribal grounds.

That Kenyan politicians are tribalistic is not a secret. It baffles me how nearly all MPs from a given area can always have the same positions on issues. Kenyan politics is such that just by knowing someone’s last name you can accurately predict their position on any political issue. This is total buffoonery. Absolute insanity. And at the very least extremely shameful.

I am disappointed in William Ruto. For a while I thought that he would be the man that detribalises the Rift Valley. While appreciating the concerns he may have over the implementation on the Waki report, he should not have come so publicly against it. He could have been more subtle and negotiated with the government – which he is a part of – from within.

Strictly speaking, I think the members of the Rift Valley have a point. The youth that were detailed for having engaged in violence were mere pawns of the political class. They should be freed. The people that should be in jail are the leaders who incited the youth. And Raila, Kibaki and Kalonzo should own up on their mess. Kibaki for not providind Kenyans with an open electoral process and Raila and Kalonzo for reacting to Kibaki’s mischief with mischief of their own.

miriam makeba passes on

Africa lost one of her brightest daughters. For over 40 years, the continent was blessed with the melodious voice of Miriam Makeba, a strong African woman who for many years sang against the horrible regime that reigned in the land of Chaka until the early 1990s.

She will be missed by all, and especially by those who enjoyed her tunes. Many know her for her most famous tune – Pata pata. Makeba started singing at the age of 13 and rose to international stardorm by the help of the Manhattan brothers and Harry Belafonte.

I join the South Africans and her fans across the world in paying tribute to this wonderful daughter of Africa and citizen of the world. Rest in peace Mama Africa.

can we stop being clowns? please….

You’ve got to give to the Kenyan government for acting clownish. The declaration of Thursday as a national holiday to celebrate Obama’s election victory was as silly as it was irresponsible. I am the first person to admit that Obama’s election was a huge milestone, not just for racially divided America but also for humanity. And Kenya deservedly ought to be proud that the son of a Kenyan will soon be the most powerful man in the world.

This Thursday holiday is too much though. America did not even have the day off from work on election day. To imagine that the government would suspend schools and all work just for celebration makes me sick. No wonder we are still a low income country. Why promote this culture of work evasion? Where is the work ethic Mr. President?

I think this was a clown move on the part of the government and in the future we should perhaps reduce the number of holidays we get off the calendar. Work, work, work. That is the only way we are going to get out of poverty as a nation, and not by taking holidays at every opportunity.


For a moment that seemed like eternity everyone in the room was quiet. We all watched with amazement and speechless at the site of jubilation and pride that rocked America when Wolf Blitzer of CNN declared that Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Kenyan, would be the next president of the United States and the most powerful man in the world.

Obama’s win is a win for humanity. It is a win for humanity because for the first time, a country that was founded on the back of slaves and over the dead bodies of native Americans finally got around to electing the son of an African to the presidency. Obama’s election is a symbol of reconciliation between the United States and the sons and daughters of Africa, long dead, who were treated like property during the first hundred years of the nation’s existence.

But Obama’s win was not just about race. Most importantly it was about the future and hope. It was about the idea that anything is possible for anyone, if you work hard at it – regardless of where you begin.

As a Kenyan I am most proud. As a human being and a self-declared citizen of the world I am even more proud for the possibilities that the Obama win opens up for all Americans and all of humanity to come together as one. As Obama likes to say in his speeches, “out of many we are one.” Long live the idea of one humanity, and long live the United States, a country founded on an idea of the equality of all men under one God.

whatever happens tomorrow

The people of the United States head to the polls tomorrow to elect their next president. Being the political junkie that I am I have been following the election like my life depends on it. Sites like Huffingtonpost, politico, the nation, salon and even the national review have been my hourly staples – not forgetting pollster and 270towin.

But the election would not have been this exciting without two candidates. One of them was the first woman to ever run with a serious chance to win. The other was the first black man to ever make the attempt, with  a serious chance of winning. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama brought to this campaign more than all the other candidates combined.

Tonight, America holds its breath in readiness for a long day of voting and news cycles that never end. It is going to be a day filled with tension. A part of me really wants Obama to win. But I am not yet sold on the idea without a doubt. Some of the polls are too close for comfort. And I keep dreading the possibility of Obama underperforming the polls.

Whatever happens tomorrow, the world and America will learn a lot from it. An Obama win will energize America and progressives all over the world. A McCain win will affirm America’s conservative streak. Either way America will get to know itself better. On November 5th everyone will know where the country stands. Whether it is a centre right state or a centre left state.

All my best wishes to the Obama campaign.

someone should pay for this and pay dearly

The pictures say it all. King Leopold’s ghost never left the vast central African country that is the DRC. In the East, a man by the name of Nkunda is waging a war against the Kinshasa government for God knows what reason. I don’t buy the story that he is protecting Tutsis from Hutus. If the rumors are true, Rwanda is in this for the minerals. Nkunda is an accomplice. Since when did an African warlord care about the people? This man thinks that the lives of Eastern Congolese people are expendable. He does not care about the people. I say he gets captured and taken through a public trial and then offered as an example to all future rebels.

In Kinshasa, Kabila is just as guilty. He is responsible for the power vacuum in the East that lets lunatics like Nkunda run around killing innocent women and children. His own soldiers, according to the NY Times, are killing people. Shooting the very civilians they are supposed to protect in the back.

It is time to stop pretending. Rwanda, if it supporting Nkunda should stop immediately. I am a fan of Kagame and I’d hate to see him tarnish his legacy this easily. Kagame, you saw it happen in your country, do not let the madness continue in the DRC. Kinshasa should be given an ultimatum: win the East or give it up. Fair and square. If Kabila’s forces cannot impose his will in the region, he should cede authority to the only force that currently seems to have the power to do so – that of the rebels led by Nkunda.

4 million human beings have died already. How many more can we let die before something gets done? I want to see people getting tried and punished for war crimes. I want to see Kabila out of power. I want to see Nkunda jailed or neutralised for his crimes. I want retribution. I want peace for the people of the DCR. If they can’t be a rational-legal state I want to see it split up. And my only reason is pure and simple: Enough is enough.