Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

The Spirit of Global Citizen Festival, New York, September 26, 2015: The Challenge for Kenyans   Leave a comment

In a spectacular rendition of the public announcement of the renewed commitment to end extreme global poverty, the United Nations sponsored an event that has left many of us breathless. The renewed commitment is spelled out in terms of the 17 goals that set new benchmarks in the fight against extreme global poverty. This represents a sequel to the 8 goals articulated in the Millennium Development Goals, 2000.

{The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states at the time (there are 193 currently), and at least 23 international organizations, committed to help achieve the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015:
1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To achieve universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality
4. To reduce child mortality
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability[1]
8. To develop a global partnership for development}

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
{On 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled Transforming our world’ ‘
This included the following goals:
1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development}

We should use these benchmarks to gauge the extent to which our individual actions as well as those of our national and local governments contribute towards the realization of the lofty goals of SDGs.
Prof. Ronald S. Edari, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


Posted September 28, 2015 by edari1 in Political Issues

Mutahi Ngunyi, the Tyranny of Numbers and the Central Province Stranglehold on Power in Kenya   Leave a comment

Ngunyi has been under some heavy attacks on his prediction of a Jubilee win in the upcoming Kenya elections, 2013, but his prediction should not come as a surprise! Kenya politics are still very heavily “tribalized” as every Kenyan knows. Given the numerical breakdown of the Kenya demographics, that tends to give the larger tribes an edge in the resulting game of assuming a dominant position and making deals with other larger tribes. But beyond this simple political algorithm, there is an insidious process of “modernizing” tribalism that has been operative since Kenya attained its independence, and it all started with Mzee Kenyatta.

Younger Kenyans may know this but Mzee Kenyatta was a trained cultural anthropologist who studied under the world renowned anthropologist, Professor Bronisław Malinowski at the London School of Economics. It was this background that furnished Mzee with the wherewithal to write his “magna opus” Facing Mount Kenya.

When Kenya got her independence with Kenyatta as the first president, very soon the politics of the country became polarized between the “left” represented by Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the “right” represented by Mzee Kenyatta. While Oginga advocated policies that were consonant with a socialist path to development, Kenyatta wanted to implement policies that paved way for the institution of private property–private land ownership, private investment, etc. The critical question then was how to marshal the political power needed to implement policies that emanated from the two diametrically opposed ideological predilections?

Kenyatta mounted an aggressive attack on Raila using not only Raila’s own prominent Luos in his cabinet, notably Tom Mboya, but set on a path of “tribalizing” Kenyan politics using his own understanding of the “tribal” mind of Kenyans. Henceforth we were treated to politics of “kihii” referring to the Luos and “house of Mumbi”, referring to the mythical progenitor of Agikuyu clans. Many ordinary Agikuyus started flocking to Gatundu to pledge allegiance to the oath that had it that the “flag of Kenya will never leave the house of mumbi”! Later, an all-encompassing hegemonic myth of GEMA was concocted as part of a “ruling myth”. This has survived to the present.

Kikuyu domination was not simply left to chance. Rather, it was buttressed by the control of key financial institutions, public service appointments, the army, the police, the CID, and the intelligence. In many instances, such control was effected through “clientele” politics of recruiting sycophants from other tribes who were expected to sing the same tune. This was supposed to be the role of Moi, until he got other ideas of his own!

What flowed from all this was tremendous prosperity for the Agikuyu in the private as well as the public sectors. Agikuyu elites who multiplied in numbers, formed a business and political class that were heavily invested in the creation and recreation of their own “superiority” as a “dominant tribe”. Thus achievements in education and business simply reinforced myths of tribal superiority. This is a far cry from the plight of the vast numbers of Agikuyus who have either very low incomes or are poor! By way of analogy, the plight of these Agikuyus can be compared with the plight of the “poor white trash” in the United States. While many of these may entertain the illusions of “white superiority”, they have very little to show for their racist beliefs!

By contrast to the tribalism of other groups in Kenya, Kikuyu tribalism is not only nurtured by the “modernized” versions of primordial beliefs, but is also reinforced by the selective interweaving of socioeconomic success stories into a grand narrative of “tribal superiority”. It is for this reason that we find a much greater degree of tribal unity and loyalty among the Agikuyu, compared with what obtains for other tribal groupings in Kenya.

In the arena of politics, the Agikuyu have created a very effective political machine that will require radical political strategies to dismantle. While Agikuyu are only 17 percent of the Kenya population (2009 demographic data), the fact that they have more resources and tend to act in accordance with the dictates of a monolithic tribal formation (regardless of party labels), all they have to do is to make a deal with elites of one large tribe in order to create a formidable voting block. We can therefore understand the plausibility of what Mutahi Ngunyi is saying regarding the prospects of a Jubilee alliance win.

I see also our learned colleague Mutahi Ngunyi has the same dismissive attitude towards the on-going presidential debates as I have had. However, after viewing our first presidential debates, I have changed my mind. What matters for now is the creation and institutionalization of a political process that will survive long after our “tribalized” politics have receded with the dawn of new day of “de-tribalized” politics in Kenya.

Mutahi Ngunyi also made another point that many may have missed. Candidates are running all over the country making flamboyant speeches and literally dancing around with no idea of how many of those who are attending political rallies actually registered to vote? I submit that many of the candidates are going to be in for very rude awakening when the final vote counts are announced!

Posted in: Kenya Development Forum & Kenya Coast Development Forum

Mwalimu Edari

Posted February 20, 2013 by edari1 in Political Issues

Uhuru and Ruto want wananchi to ask: What did Raila and Musyoka do for all those years that they were in parliament/government?   Leave a comment

This is a question that both Uhuro and Ruto would be better advised to avoid. Why? Because it was the “tribal” governments headed by Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki who have been largely responsible for many of the ills that afflict Kenya. Until recently, Kenya has been ruled by autocratic leaders, notably Kenyatta and Moi. This type of leadership was complimented by deeply entrenched “tribalization” of politics and the economy that was effected through the control of such strategic institutions as the internal security forces (police, GSU, CID, provincial administration); the central bank; the judiciary and attorney general. The process of “retribalization of key institutions” is an undercurrent that has been running through the entire course of Kenya’s political history. Uhuru Kenyatta, whose family continues to reap the benefits of this insidious political/economic process, should be the last one to ask any leader what they have done for Kenya over the years. Uhuru Kenyatta is ranked 29th among the wealthiest persons in Africa.

Just consider this, both Kibaki and Uhuru have served as finance ministers. Before them there were such notable Kikuyu political operatives like Gichuru and others! In the just ended parliament, yet another member of the GEMA community was busy doing all sorts of “funny” things with the budget. It is precisely from this type of strategic position that the Kikuyu leadership has helped itself and secured political support by dishing out favors.

All said, it is high time that Kenyans must make sure that they give another type of leadership a chance to lead through the engagement of the wider Kenyan public from Mombasa to Kisumu. Wananchi must also make sure that there will not be another “stolen” election through the appointment of an “enforcer” such as the CID designee Muhoro!

Mwalimu Edari

Posted January 29, 2013 by edari1 in Political Issues

What is at Stake in the 2013 Kenya General Elections   Leave a comment

In the upcoming 2013 elections, Kenyans are going to be voting under a new constitution that promises profound changes in terms of devolution of power and empowering wananchi. People are going to be faced with hard choices in determining who among the aspiring politicians will bring about significant changes in their lives. The reality that we face as Kenyans is that since the country attained its independence, we have been led by a lineup of leaders who have viewed politics as a means of self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. The mechanisms that have been at work in delivering power and wealth for these pack of “nyang’aus”  have been:

a. tribalism, nepotism and sexism

b. institutionalization of corruption at all levels of society

c. political repression effected through centralization of power and autocratic rule

d. politically motivated violence and murders

Our political parties have been nothing more than “protection rackets” that have used tribalism as a means of galvanizing the support of the rank and file of voters and making deals with other voting tribal formations.

Throughout Kenya, you will hear leaders trumpeting the grandiose slogans of the rule of law, tolerance of tribal and religious differences, promoting economic development, reducing poverty, improving education and health services, improving public safety, etc. But after every election cycle, their pronouncements remain largely compromised by their greed, narrow self-interests and cynicism towards “wananchi”—“Mjinga mle” or “Never give a sucker an even break!”  This contempt for “wananchi” has been the hallmark of the Kenyan leaders. Thus at times when the country may be agonizing over a fiscal crisis, elected members of parliament have no qualms with voting for themselves some hefty salary increases and allowances! Indeed the shortest route to acquiring or augmenting personal fortunes for the Kenyan elites has been the capturing of a seat in parliament.

The question that confronts as Kenyans is how can we act politically to effect some meaningful changes that will improve our lives through voting in the 2013 elections? Below, are some broadly stated political objectives and activities that can be construed as the “People’s Political Agenda for 2013 Elections”:

1. Advancing the education of our children by supporting the long-overdue increase in teacher salaries, allowances and working conditions: identify and take notice of the political positions of aspiring candidates;

2. Advancing the health of Kenyans by supporting the long-overdue increase in salaries, allowances and working conditions of doctors, nurses and other health workers: identify and take notice of the political position of aspiring candidates;

3. Identify the politicians who are trying to compromise the political appointments vetting process as spelled out in the new constitution; protection of agents of corruption is what these politicians are up to;

4. Identify the politicians who have voted for hefty perks in parliament: are these “nyang’aus” going to continue in this habit of plundering and pillaging the public coffers? If these “nyang’aus” do not change the errors of their ways they should rest assured that they will have to face the campaign of a “recall” vote!

5. How will the candidates address the issues of economic disparities in regional and local development, particularly as it affects the marginalized groups?

6. How will the candidates address the issues of infrastructure development and improvements: water, sanitation, public transportation, etc;

7. How will the candidates address the issues of public safety: drug trafficking and other crimes, police brutality and corruption, terrorism, etc;

8. How will the candidates address the issues of prejudice, diversity and discrimination with reference to: tribalism, sexism, religion, disability, gays and lesbians, etc;

9. How will the candidates address the issues of income distribution, class inequality and poverty?

10. How will the candidates address the issues of relations with other countries: East Africa, Africa and the rest of the world?

I am sure many of you can think of other issues that can be used to engage our aspiring political candidates in spirited discussions and vetting.

Posted September 5, 2012 by edari1 in Political Issues