A few months ago it was Uganda. Kenya’s western neighbor sent troops and hoisted their flag on a Kenyan island on lake Victoria. The Kenyan government at first wavered, unable to provide a coherent response before it formed a joint task force with the invading Ugandans to determine the ownership of the island. It turned out the island is indeed Kenyan, only for the Ugandan president to claim that even if the island is Kenyan the waters and fish around it are Ugandan.
Now Southern Sudan is also in the mix. The Kenyan immigration minister, the man charged with the running of Kenya’s border posts was stopped from accessing one such post by Southern Sudanese security people – on Kenyan soil!! How ridiculous.
This insouciant approach to territorial matters is evident of the lack of a sense of nationhood in most African countries. These states only meaningfully exist withing a few hundred kilometres radii of the capitals. Since no one had to fight for the borders, no one really cares. But Kenya’s case is even more absurd. This is not Somalia or the Gambia. We should have better control of our people and our borders.
The Kenyan cabinet yesterday decided not to set up a local tribunal to try those who organized the targeted killings of people who spoke certain languages (but lived in the “wrong” places) after the bungled general elections of late 2007. Instead, in an effort to assuage the fears of a hostile parliament, the president and his cabinet decided to clean up the police force and the judiciary and have these organs try the said suspects. Yeah right.
My doubts of the cabinet’s intentions are premised on the fact that reforming the police force and the judiciary will not take a few months. The police force is the most corrupt institution in this country. Reforming it will take years. Same with the judiciary. If we are to wait for the police and judges to stop taking bribes and begin respecting the rule of law before we initiate the prosecution process then we might as well forget about the whole thing.
I remain deeply skeptical of President Kibaki’s commitment to making sure that those who organized the killing of more than 1300 Kenyans be brought to book. If he really means what he said yesterday then he should begin by firing Attorney General Amos Wako. This is a man who has been in that position through the tortures of the Moi era, the killings that preceded the 1997 general elections, and a myriad corruption scandals (including the mother of all, Goldenberg) without ever bringing any prominent player to book. Mr. Wako has been as effective as a parachute that deploys on the second bounce and should be shown the door, no questions asked.
It was always going to be difficult to bring the oafish ethnic chiefs masquerading as patriots to book. Yesterday was a stark reminder to all Kenyans that justice is political and that if change doesn’t come soon the powerful will continue doing what they want and leave the weak to suffer what they must.