Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The Death of Devolution

When the 2010 constitution was promugulated this marked a major milestonein the way the country is governed.It stipulated the dispersal of political power and economic resources from Nairobi to the grassroots. The local people actively taking part in running their own affairs rather than being micro managed from Centre.As a result 47 county government were established and The senate to oversee the implementation. The first wave of county government had funds 15% of the total budget being dispersed to them to start running their affairs with large department like health being transferred overnigh to the new dispensation . During the constitution making at Bomas therr was agreement of making three tier government but was shelved due to pressure from some quaters who wanted to water down the devolution train. The Marginalised areas and ethnic communities felt a sigh of relief that they will be getting their share rather than being at the mercy of the President who will share resources as he pleased while puninshing area and ethnic communites that stood his political machinisation.
he Constitution of Kenya Review Act 2000 required the CKRC to consider people’s participation through the devolution of power;respect for ethnic and regional diversity and communal rights including the right of communities to organise and participate in cultural activities and the expression of their identities. It was to review the place of local government, the degree of the devolution of power to local authorities, and options for federal and unitary systems. The excitement that greeted the Devolution is slowly dying thanks to the Govoners who have turned to mini dictators who have huge appetite for corruption and mismanagement of the highest order. Budgeting has been the biggest challenge facing counties. 70% percent of the Govoners have single handedly made the budget to benefit themselves and their families contrary to the spirit of Devolution.They have been allocating huge sums of money to white elephant projects which have no benefit to the local population. The County Assembly were elected and nominated on the basis of debate issues concerning the management of the counties.They have turned out to be the biggest disappointment as they have failed to carry their duties as per constitution. They have been bench marking all over the world that some countries protested to the foreign ministry of the frequent trip made by Members of the county assembly. The members of the Assembly have turned to be in bed with Govoners who have been lining their pockets to pass budgets and not question Govoners unfitted acres to the treasury for personal benefit. Some Govoners have been seen to be coming at the central Bank every month. The President declaration of war on corruption should now focus more the counties where corruption by executive is running into billions as they have planted their handymen in strategic position in the treasury. With the new team ODPP, DCIO and EACC Kenyans hope many will be charged and save the Devolution. By Saciida Khalif

Monday, 24 December 2018

The Referendum Issue

The secretary General of Central Trade Union in a meeting declared that referendum will happen wether we like it or not and invited the Deputy President William Ruto to take a walk from the government and campaign on what he likes. The President while in Kisumu recently declared that the system of winner take all without accommodating the losers has been the cause of civil strife and post election violence year in year out.
In 2010 before the clamour for new constitution the country was divided into two camps the Banana and orange team on opposing sides. DP Ruto and his brigade took the Banana side of No while Raila Odinga and his team lead the Orange yes team which saw the new constitution promulgated and ushering of new Kenya and devolution entrenched in our new democracy dispensation. This same constitution that DP Ruto was against is the one now he is championing not to be changed.[
Just as we finished the longest campaign in the history of Kenya where we went twice to poll in short time to re-elect the President in a disputed election then we were placed again in early mode campaign season.The DP started campaigning using state resources criss crossing from county to county visiting and conducting meetings some times up seven in a day. This raised temperature in a country which was fatigued by long running electioneering period. The opposition on the other hand started daily protest leading to the swearing in of Raila Odinga at Uhuru Park as peoples President by Miguna Miguna. This triggered series events that almost divided the country into two and a national security threat. The economy was taking battering and many were left wondering if they will stay employed any longer. The handshake of 9th March 2018 between President Uhuru and Raila Odinga turned the country round and seeing the Kenya unity strengthened. President Uhuru made a maiden visit to Bondo home of Late Jaramogi Odinga Odinga which cemented friendship that has been elusive for many years. This friendship and camaraderie is what DP Ruto and his brigade were irked as the looked at a roadblock to him ascending Presidency in the creation. [
. DP Ruto known as a Tangatanga team has now gone to the extent of using word that we cannot repeat against the handshake and this is sliding the country back to a position that n one wishes. Touring Western Kenya Ruto lashed out saying "foolish idlers who ought to retire." Immediately Atwoli in a rejoinder called on the DP " He cannot claim those supporting the call to review the constitution including the President are foolish." The DP is camouflaging his numerous trip across the country as development but in essence it is heavily toned with 2022 rhetoric with his entrouge dishing millions of shillings in church donations. The politics of handouts is now taking centre stage and leading the country to state of tension. By Muthomi Wa Nyambura

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Is Raila Odinga Kenya's National Tragic Hero?

By Joshua Odhiambo Nyamori Why do I celebrate, sympathize with and mourn, but at the same time criticize, dismiss and oppose, the former Prime Minister, R.H. Raila Odinga, all at the same time? My feelings are defined by my conclusion, after many years of closely studying R.H. Raila Odinga, as one of Kenya's foremost political characters, that he is probably the Kenyan nation's Tragic Hero. I am happy that it's not only me who sees it this way. Last night my friend Noel Ochieng' expressed to me that he too has concluded that Raila is a tragic hero.
An understanding of Raila as a tragic hero can be found in studying his personality, vision, objectives, strategies, tactics, successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses in the context of the Aristotelian concept of Tragic Hero, as treated in Aristotle's Poetics. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero evokes in the audience a sense of both pity and fear. This tragic hero is normally a person of noble birth with heroic or potentially heroic qualities. Raila fits in this definition, being the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a Luo Ker, the first Vice President who was also feted for leading the alternative ideological standing in Kenya, hence reverence of the old man as the "doyen of opposition" or the "best president that Kenya never had." Then Raila was detained three times for a total of nine years for wanting to overthrow Moi's dictatorship, which was interpreted - rightly or wrongly - as his commitment to democratization of Kenya. When he came out he has engaged in what many Kenyans have interpreted as heroic political adventures, sometimes with high political and personal risks. This endeared him to many, me included. But like the mythical Oedipus and Thyestes, Raila seems to be fated by the Gods or by some supernatural forces to doom and destruction. Aristotle avers that the tragic hero "must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous ... who is not eminently good and just, (and) whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty.” While Aristotle does not expect the hero to be entirely good so that he can do no wrong, he contends rather that the tragic hero commits a fatal injury or a great wrong which eventually leads to his misfortune and total destruction. This seems to be the fate that has befallen Raila Odinga. He has climbed to almost the very top of Kenyan politics but seems to be making fatal errors one after another, errors that have cost him the Presidency twice. Although he has earned his position as a national hero, he has also set himself on a fatal self destructive mode from which no one can save him. He has steadily alienated his political pillars by betraying his loyal lieutenants, denying them opportunities for political reward through vertical growth in a democratic process. In the sense of all tragic heroes, and to his credit, Raila has been struggling heroically against this tragic fate that he seemingly finds himself in and this cosmic conflict has always won the admiration of many Kenyans including me. He invests time and energy - his entire life - in this cosmic struggle to overcome his tragedy of self destruction in order that he may achieve his objective of leading Kenya. But since, like all tragic heroes, Raila simply cannot accept the reality of a diminished view of the self resulting from being worn out by many years of battle after battle, most of them ending in his failure, our national hero Raila Odinga is most likely destined to end up a bitter and frustrated failure in this epic struggle against fate. This tragic theatre of the absurd that has become Raila's political epic seems to be his choice or free will. He has always chosen the paths that have led him into embarrassing failures. The paradox therefore is whether Raila's past and current misfortunes are matters fate or whether they are results of his free will. It is important to appreciate that these misfortunes have brought misery and suffering not only to the life of Raila and his family, but also to the lives of many of his followers and many others to whom these misfortunes have resulted in personal tragedies. Though he seems to be fated, those of us who consider Raila a national hero, and therefore hold him to higher standards of probity, keep getting appalled every time he makes choices which bring about not only his misfortunes and continued destruction, but also the suffering of his supporters, party members and Kenyans in general. Could these tragic theatres of the absurd have revealed the true identity of Raila Odinga which were hitherto unknown to many of his supporters and indeed many Kenyans? It should be remembered that Oedipus - instead of being the proud saviour of Thebes was revealed in tragic events to actually be the cause of the city's plague, the killer of his father and the husband of his mother. Could Raila's eventful tragedies have revealed that after all he is not the defender of human rights, the paragon of democracy, the voice of the voiceless and the embodiment of national spirit for revolutionary change, but rather a self seeking tyrant who never subordinates his political ambition, thirst for power and economic aggrandisement for the common good of his political party members and the nation at large? When Raila presided over a blatant abuse of democratic principles at Kasarani, tellingly excusing himself to go for "lunch", as his well briefed and well known goons stormed the amphitheatre, and in a spectacular speed and organization, crashed ballot boxes and overturned tables on their way in full glare of the delegates who had made their choices known by acclamation as names of candidates were called out, and even as the rest of the country followed on live TV coverage, any sane Kenyan who still believed in him as a democrat was disabused of the fallacy. The guy revealed himself as an unapologetic and callous despot, not ashamed of subverting popular will at the altar of self preservation. Any moral authority to accuse IEBC and the Supreme Court of abetting 2013 rigging was smashed in full glare of delegates and TV audience all over the country. The question that therefore begs answer is whether Raila Odinga's successive political and personal misfortunes have been gratuitous or not. Through great misfortunes, and the behaviour of this national hero before, during and after several crises, Kenyans have been greatly enlightened on his true character, qualities and abilities. I want to believe that Raila Odinga has also learnt about himself and his place in Kenya’s body polity and in the universe. His personal pride, sense of entitlement and aura of mysterious cosmic authority and power have been repeatedly and publicly chastened. Although his authority has been significantly diminished, the interesting thing is that Raila Odinga the national hero, and some of his supporters, seems not to be at peace with the reality that he may have outlived his political usefulness and that his continued stay in the political scene will no doubt result in further misfortunes, than in any useful result. It is this contradiction that informs my celebration, sympathy and mourning of this great character which is also interweaved with my criticizism, dismissal and opposition. Joshua Odhiambo Nyamori Strategic Management Consultant Abila Consultants P.O. Box 1733 Kisumu Tel: +254 714 335 816 Email; 42Like · · Share

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Wither RAO By Abdullahi Boru

Raila Amollo Odinga (RAO), is famous not because he’s from the royal family of Kenya’s politics, it is in spite of. He has by sheer force of his personality he has carved himself in the collective national conscious. This made him an institution. Unlike many of his peers who labored under the shadow of their famous father or family name, RAO cultivated his persona. He was not inhibited by his father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga- the doyen of opposition politics in Kenya. At his prime, RAO captured the zeitgeist, embodied it, and directed it for greater public good; relentlessly push for expansion of democratic space at a personal cost. His activism was rooted in the classical Manichean notion the government is “bad” and the non-government is “good”, although, some of his methods were questionable. His dedication alongside many played a significant role in introducing the state reform. The fruit of that labor was the promulgation of the 2010 constitution. At the peak of his power in 2007, RAO was the de facto people’s president. His electoral loss, which was accompanied by violence following the disputed presidential election claimed about 1200 lives with over ½ a million people internally displaced. Because of the cumulative myth surrounding him, it is difficult to establish who the real RAO is; Some see him as power hungry devil incarnate, while other see him as their political messiah; baba. The true RAO is somewhere between these two extremes. In realization of the political cost of latter characterization, he began to marginally soften his public perception. That planted the seed of his political decline. Post-defeat blues The 2007 electoral loss, and subsequent acceptance of a power sharing agreement with Mwali Kibaki, the eventual “winner” elevated Odinga to a mini-statesman- willing to share the spoil against someone who “stole” his victory. But post-2013 defeat seems to have evaporated the man’s mojo. His party, the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) seems rudderless, his politics uninspiring and he demeanor unconvincing. His handlers attempting to project him as a statesman could attribute some of this. But Odinga is a gut politician. He’s a risk taker. Unorthodox. Boxing him into a narrow prism is a kin to taking a fish out of water. Since losing the 2013 elections, RAO has come across as deflated. His fuel comes from being in the thick of politics, by being outside parliament he seems to be dull and dour. This is not limited to him; it is a systemic malaise of African politics, where the politicians hardly plan life beyond politics. Few have a career, few have honest business to turn to- most of their business venture heavily rely on leveraging their political power. Once out of power they hardly do well. Little wonder few contemplate leaving office. Some of his off color performance after the elections could be attributed to pernicious consequences of tyranny of numbers- the ruling coalition enjoys a super majority in parliament and senate, and have state machinery at their disposal. Even accounting for steep state’s machination, RAO’s post election’s performance is indefensible. Kenyatta’s blunder and ODM primaries There have been moments when Kenyatta’s administration have been out of their depth, and at every turn RAO has been at worst gave press conferences denouncing the government’s, at worst, he remained bafflingly silent. RAO made his career in the opposition; it is not like he just joined the opposition rank. And all indications are he will run for presidency in 2017. But momentarily, RAO looks like a politician who is running on an empty tank. May be age is catching up with him, or may be his persona is drenched in myth. But today’s postponement of the party primaries is another demonstration of confidence of crisis RAO is experiencing. And it raises fundamental questions, if he cannot manage the party primaries- despite the reckoning party primaries are never the most democratic, how then can he mount his next stab at the presidency? Young New reformers In Kenya there is a serious need for a new cadre of reformers to take over the mantle, the older generation needs to pass on their batons. The reform movement needs to negotiate this tricky and dicey transition with enormous care -the manner of the transition will determine the future arc of the movement. As it is, the movement needs a reboot and find its true north if it will remain significant moving forward in an unfamiliar Kenya. It would be cruel, if a movement that valiantly fought for the enactment of the new constitution fails at the critical stage of its entrenchment. And nothing symbolizes that than RAO’s struggle to impose discipline on his party.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


August 16, 2013 By Faisal Roble Every government that came to Mogadishu since the Barre regime had claimed to be legitimate. The loudest noise and more intense claim for legitimacy had been echoed by the current government. On the contrary, the current government is less legitimate than its predecessor. Given how much it erred and abused the recently drafted Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC), one could easily argue that Hassan Sheikh’s government in Mogadishu is a government with the least legitimacy and may have dashed once again probable hopes for regrouping Somalia. An African proverb says: WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT, THE GRASS DISAPPEARS. When the President of Somalia vows to undermine the Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) of Somalia, the country suffers and further disintegration becomes the norm. If so, one can’t protect a nation whose President is undoing its very binding constitution. Who needs a Federalist Constitution? In case the novice President and his team failed to fathom the profundity of the need for the current PFC, it was intended to address three main objectives that are central to Somalia’s existence as a united country: constThe first objective was to curtail the disintegration of the Former Republic of Somalia. Somalia’s disintegration started in earnest with the suffocation of democratic values during the years of the Military rule. In search for change, young military officers, mainly hailing from the Puntland regions of Somalia, tried to remove the late dictator, General Mohamed Siyad Barre, through a military coup. By this time, the Barre regime was showing signs of major political fissures, and his authority’s legitimacy was in the waning. By the 1980s, some of the young officers who escaped Barre established armed opposition front, the Somali Salivation Democratic Front (SSDF), led by the late President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Few years later, the Somali National Movement (SNM), once led by Ahmed Silanyo, the current President of Somaliland also established its shack in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia. With these two groups (mainly representing two major clans of Somalia’s establishment) establishing military bases in Ethiopia, the hitherto adhered ethos of “Though Shall not Seek help from the Enemy, Ethiopia,” was permanently altered. Towards the end of 1980s, the United Somali Congress of the late General Aidid, a junior partner in the removal of Barre joined the parties in Addis Ababa. This then was the beginning of the disintegration of Somalia and the formation of the genesis of the second republic. To that end, in 1993, the SNM declared a unilateral secession from the rest of Somalia, followed by the SSDF establishing the first and formidable autonomous region of Puntland in 1998. Both regions are today more peaceful, better governed and less corrupt than Mogadishu, with a fledgling managed democratic cultures. Additionally, the Puntland state skillfully helped midwifed the birth of the PFC and attaches particular importance to the protection of the integrity of the document. The mayhem, terrorism, corruption, rampant rape cases that regularly take place in Mogadishu are almost non-existent in these two regions. How can Mogadishu, therefore, bring these regions back to the fold within the context of the second republic was one of the arching objectives of the PFC. A second objective of the PFC was to lend legitimacy to new and future leaders in Somalia who lost legitimacy after the 1991 civil war. One of the everlasting negative impacts the Barre regime imparted on Somalia is the erosion of political legitimacy. Prior to the Barre regime, the Somali Youth League (SYL) and the Somali National League (SNL) enjoyed tremendous political legitimacy in the 1940s through the 1960s. These parties were the main forces that translated the nationalist struggle of Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan (father of modern Somali national resistance) in the late 1890s through the 1920s into modern and western style political activism that eventually (1960) delivered independence, hence the establishment of the first republic. Both presidents Adan Abulle Osman and Abdulrashid Ali Sharmarke, as well as their respective Prime Ministers (AbdiRazak Haji Husseing and Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Igal) belonged to the said parties. With an impressive degree of legitimacy given by their constituents, these leaders established the first legitimate, albeit weak democratic governance in the country. General Siyad Barre overthrew that government in 1969 and hence eroded any semblance of legitimacy in the governance system of Somalia. It is well established in the Political Science literature that without legitimacy, governance is almost impossible, therefore follows suite anarchy and civil disorder, as the case has been with Somalia since the 1991 civil war. The problem of solving Somalia’s governance is not because Barre’s (negative) legacies are too rigid to erase them, that is to say “Ayax tag eelna reeb,” or “the locust is gone but its effect is with us” can’t be a theory to explain the perpetual failure of governance in Somalia. Both national and international efforts notwithstanding, the endeavor of lifting Somalia up from the ashes has been a herculean, albeit unsuccessful mission. Other Sub-Saharan African countries that experienced similar disorder seem to have quickly recovered. One may ask why the difference? It is only so because leaders of those African countries regained a healthy dose of legitimacy to institute changes for forward moving. The central problem for Somalia, on the other hand, has been and still is, to wit, the loss of political legitimacy and the constant failure to regain that precious commodity. How to reestablish political legitimacy for Somalia’s authority was also one of the objectives of the PFC. The PFC, therefore, is the last attempt or tool to help lift Somalia up and remedy that absence of legitimacy. A third objective of the PFC was to democratize the country through a constitutional system of governance that divides power and decisions making between the center and the regions. Because of the absence of any legitimate body to govern, outside the traditional power structures headed by clan chiefs, elders and religious leaders, Somalia has yet to democratize its polity[i]. Without democratic institutions in place, and absent of any legitimate authority in the country, neither mass violence, unbridled rape of women (Mogadishu is the epicenter of rape cases), nor corruption (including supervising looting aid monies) is accountable in Mogadishu. Without a transparency, so far not a single individual has been brought to justice (outside those poor pirates tried in foreign courts) to answer the pillage of Somalia and the destruction of its infrastructure, the mass violence in Mogadishu in 1991, or women being raped with impunity. The stealing of 80% of aid given to Somalia by foreign aid even passed to the oblivion with a mere lukewarm response from the very perpetrators of said corruption. To add insult to an injury, the late Osman Atto (RIP), who is blamed to have sold some of the country’s looted infrastructure as scrap metal to Uganda, a well-established warlord, received a national burial honor from President Hassan Mohamoud on August 10, 2013. This is a nation whose sense of fairness faded away to the depth of darkness. Next honor could easily go to Abdi Wal, Indha Cade, Haji Musse Yallaxo and the rest who are comfortably resting in Mogadishu. Watching yesteryear’s “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” resemble a medieval European haunted house of horror and terror is a trouble thing to experience. Violating the Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) Illegal Changes to the PFC The President during his tenure, now about one year, violated the spirit and intent of the PFC of the Somali Federal Republic. However, the President of Puntland, Dr. Abdirahman Farole, has been warning Somalis and non-Somalis alike of the looming danger in tempering with the integrity of the document. Finally, at his inaugural speech on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Puntland autonomous government, President Faroole announced, after serious consultation with his cabinet, the leadership of the Puntland State of Somalia decided to suspend relations with the Federal Government of Somalia. The main reason for what amounted to be a political earthquake is the result of incessant tampering, changes, distortions and illegal amendments brought to the PFC by Mogadishu and the novice President, Hassan Sheikh. As delineated in a draft memo released by the government of Puntland, about twenty five articles of the PFC have been changed, altered, amended or distorted by Mogadishu. Some of the changes, for example, finalizing the status of the Capital City, or the requirement for 40,000 signatories as opposed to 400,000 to engender any amendment, are significant changes to the original contents of the PFC. Additionally, the legal process for corrections, change or amendments to the constitution was gravely violated. So far the explanations given by Mogadishu or its mouthpiece regarding said changes are unacceptable to Puntland leaders and Somalis at large. The chairman of the Parliament, Mr. Jawari, has been docile and silent at the wake of a political tsunami brewing under his watch. Erroneous Interpretations of the PFC In addition to illegal and sly changes made to the PFC, distortive interpretations made to some of the articles are deepening the political crisis and the looming disintegration of the country. On August 11, 2013, for example, the President had picked a governor for Galmudug region. The enabling articles of the constitution that are cited for the Presidential action to handpick a governor for Galmudug case are Articles 18, 90, and 99. Nothing can be more unprofessional and non-judicious than this act and the erroneous citation of completely unrelated relief. For the record, Article 18 (Inviolability of Home) refers to legal property ownership; Article 90, a) through q), is all about the President’s powers in declaring wars, appointing Ministers, opening the house of the representatives….. A remote resemblance between the action of the President and the contents of this Section is perhaps found in Section k), which talks about the President’s responsibilities to “appoint senior Federal Government officials and the heads of the Federal Government Institutions on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.” However, unless someone is challenged in their understanding of their eight grade level civic studies, the Section cited above is talking about federal level institutions and entities, and has no relationship with this President hand picking a regional post that is non-federal and non-professional assignments. It is such a silly way of handling the affairs of the PFC that prompted Mr. Faroole to pronounce “war ayay na moodeen,” or “who do they think we are,” implying that the community of Puntland is more sophisticated than Hassan Sheikh thinks. Lastly Article 99, Responsibilities of the Council of Ministers, (a) though (i), delineates the functions of the Council of Ministers. Some of the highlights of the Sections under this Article include (a) formulate the overall government policy and implement, (d) prepare an annual budget, (e) set the national policy, etc. The only Article which the President may attempt to misinterpret in order to get his way is Section (i), “Exercise any other power conferred upon it by the Constitution or by other laws. In nowhere does the Constitution empower unelected technocrats or ministers over the will of the people of Somalia. Article 48 calls for two levels of governments, one federal and another regional. When it comes to the formation of local government, the constitution fully empowers not Mogadishu, and certainly not with the Council of Ministers, but the residents of the regions. There is no way to go around this fact, unless one is determined to lead Somalia into a full blown and irreparable disintegration. If correctives measures are not take immediately to arrest the recalcitrant behavior of Mogadishu, Puntland and, possibly Jubbaland, may depart company with Mogadishu. They will do so because these entities have legitimacy with their masses and hence can execute such radical decisions. Concluding Remarks Under this President, not only is the PFC under attack, but even humanitarian organizations are not safe, the latest casualty being Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). According to an August 15, 2013 article by AFP, “leaders in Somalia are playing a role in “the killing, assaulting and abducting of humanitarian aid workers either through direct involvement or tacit approval.” Otherwise a tough nut to crack, MSF decided to withdrew its operation because “the “last straw” came when it discovered that some of Somalia’s official authorities were supporting or condoning the lethal attacks on its aid workers.” – Very sad! If carefully read, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s behaviors are indicative of the early days of Siyad Barre’s power grabbing, only less charismatic he is and he surrounded himself with less qualified docile aides. Given that Puntland, Jubbaland, Khatumo regions, and certainly Somalilanders have paid with blood and sweat to have a system of federal governance not to mention the blood path taking place in the Shabble regions, Mogadishu must drop its unconstitutional and centrist ideology so that the flicker of light Somalis saw only a year ago will not fade away. If this President cannot implement the intent and spirit of the PFC, if he is resolute to temper, distort, illegally amend and erroneously interpret, and if he can’t protect civilians both national and international, what is there to convince Somaliland to come back to the fold? As to Puntland, President Faroole should consider toughening his timely suspension of any dealings with the Mogadishu government more, and Jubbaland should soon stop appealing to Mogadishu and embark on its own course until the right time for constructive engagement comes. Meanwhile, those of us who love both Mogadishu and Somalia equally must sing in the spirit of Julius Caesar’s era of Rome: We love Mogadishu not less, but we love legitimate leadership for Somalia and its people more. Unfortunately, Mogadishu elites, with the exception of very few, are adamant to supervise both the death of Mogadishu and the demise of Somalia with one sharp spade. Faisal A. Roble


Somalis fare much worse than other immigrants; what holds them back? Aug 17th 2013 |From the print edition BARBER shops are excellent places for gossip. Hassan Ali’s place in Kentish Town is no different. The north Londoner arrived in Britain from Somalia with dreams of becoming a mechanic. But he was good at cutting hair: you do whatever work you can, he says. Most Somalis—Britain’s largest refugee population—do not work. They are among the poorest, worst-educated and least-employed in Britain. In a country where other refugees have flourished, why do Somalis do so badly? The first Somalis to arrive in Britain, over a century ago, were economic migrants. Merchant seamen settled in cities with docks: Cardiff, Liverpool and London. As civil war ravaged Somalia in the 1990s, refugees flocked to Britain. In 1999, the high-water mark, 7,495 Somalis arrived (11% of the refugees that arrived in Britain that year). Since then, the influx has slowed (see first chart); it still leaves a large community. The 2011 census identified 101,370 people in England and Wales who were born in Somalia. Poverty is their first problem. Over 80% of Somali-speaking pupils qualify for free school meals. In Waltham Forest, a borough in east London, home to nearly 4,000 Somalis, 73% live in households on benefits. More than 50% of British Somalis rent from local councils, the highest proportion of any foreign-born population. In nearby Tower Hamlets 2010 data showed that Somalis were twice as likely as white Britons to be behind with the rent. The cost of their economic marginalisation hurts them, and is a toll on the public sector, too. Education looks an unlikely escape route. Overcrowded houses mean children have nowhere to do their homework. In 2010-11 around 33% of Somali children got five good GCSEs, the exams taken at 16, compared with 59% of Bangladeshi pupils and 78% of Nigerian ones. Parents unable to speak English struggle. They see their children move up a year at school and assume they are doing well (in Somalia poor performers are held back). Their offspring, roped in as translators, are in no hurry to disabuse them. This helps to explain the pitiful employment rates among Britain’s Somalis (see second chart). Just one in ten is in full-time work. Many Somali households are headed by women who came to Britain without their husbands. Fitting work around child care is a struggle. Without work, Somali men while away their days chewing khat, a mild stimulative leaf. Awale Olad, a Somali councillor in London, supports the government’s recent decision to ban the drug. But others fear it will needlessly criminalise a generation of men. Religion, however, is an overstated problem. It is true that, like their Bangladeshi and Pakistani counterparts, some young Somalis are embracing stricter forms of Islam. Amina Ali, who hopes to stand as an MP at the next election, worries when she sees girls of three wearing headscarves. People can respect Islam without being so conservative, she says. But religion unites young Somalis with other young Muslims, says Ismail Einashe, a journalist. A few are radicalised, but most are not. This cocktail of poverty and unemployment dogs Somalis elsewhere too. In 2009 they were the least-employed group in Denmark. The Norwegian government is so worried about its Somali community it wants research done on their plight. Even discounting such factors as religion, age and experience, compared with other black Africans in Britain, Somalis face an “ethnic penalty” when job-hunting. Their disadvantages are clear. But Britain is rightly perceived as a country in which it is relatively easy to set up businesses; it also offers the hope of a warm welcome with its large Somali and Muslim population. This should bode well for Somalis. Many are hopeful. Somalis want their children to succeed, so growing numbers are hiring private tutors (see article). In 2000 just one Somali teenager in the London borough of Camden passed five GCSEs with good grades. To improve matters, the council and others set up the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, which mentors students and lends them books. Last year the figure rose to 59%. Abdikadir Ahmed, who works there, says his organisation encourages people to put the entrepreneurial skills they learn in gangs to better use. He works with Somalis locked up in Feltham prison, a young-offenders jail. Their numbers are dropping, he reckons. Somalis played little part in the summer riots of 2011. This investment reflects a deeper change. For years many Somalis kept their suitcases packed, ready to return to Africa for good, says Mr Olad. Firm in the belief that they would soon be on the move, there was little point in putting down deep roots, or encouraging their children to do so. But the current generation of Somalis grew up in Britain. For them a permanent return to Somalia holds less appeal. Young British Somalis still embrace their nomadic heritage. But now they seek a dual identity, able to flit between two homelands and, they hope, to make the best of both. From the print edition: Britain

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Five reasons why we are a mediocre country

Today I don’t need any crystal ball to tell you what you know, but which you deny. We are a mediocre country, and we know it. We are malignant, uncouth, corrupt, and – get this – cursed with an evil eye. But we weren’t always so little, small, and spiteful. We used to dream big. But our dreams died. Now we have nightmares – and night sweats. We’ve become a defensive, easily slighted nation. We are an epithet-riddled people. Our mouths need to be washed with soap. Our hate-dripping fingers shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard, or keypad. Which begs the question – why have our brains shrunk? Are we “devolving” instead of “evolving?” Here are five unarguable secrets we are mediocre. First, we’ve “outsourced” our brains – and inner conscience – to mobs. We no longer think as individuals, but as mobs. We are no different from a herd of buffalo. Look – “tribal identity” is the first thing you most want to know about any Kenyan you meet. Admit it – that’s what you hear in the person’s name. Bingo – Makau must be Kamba, Githongo a Kikuyu, Ochieng a Luo. That’s how you decide into which “mobs” you will “confess” or which political cartels you will support. We’ve become Pavlovian dogs – we “salivate” on cue upon seeing our “mob.” We lose our individual agency within the tribe. Full professors become tribal bloviators. They revert to nature, and start crawling on all fours. Tell you what – the tribal mob robs us of our intellect, and turns us into morons. Our noggin becomes an empty calabash. Our heads become incubators of genocidal thoughts. That’s not as big of a leap as you think. If you doubt me, flash back to the 2008 Eldoret Kiambaa church fire. Our state’s – and society’s – proclivity for anti-intellectualism is woven around the tribe. It’s all about “eating” or looting, to be less euphemistic. Like maggots, we look to the state for pork when “ours” are in power. That’s why power is a zero-sum game. Never mind the existence of so-called devolved counties. The same folks who yesterday used to “eat” in Nairobi are now pillaging county governments. Second, we are a corrupt people. That’s right – we are victimised by small dreams because we have become one of the most corrupt people on earth. Virtually every Kenyan wants a shortcut to money. Lie, cheat, steal, kill – it doesn’t matter how you get the money. I know – you want to blame it all on the MPs. But – and don’t argue here – the “little people” are equally corrupt. It’s ironic the “little people” have the gall to complain about the naked and rapacious greed of MPs. That’s nothing but jealousy. The “little people” would rob us blind if they got the chance. The kettle shouldn’t call the pot black. We’ve become a nation of thieves. We’ve no problem stealing from strangers. We mug each other in broad daylight. We knock down the old and infirm and make off with their purses and wallets. But we also steal from family members. Raise your hand if you haven’t been victimised by a relative. But we pretend to be a religious nation. Don’t make me laugh. Unless being religious – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or a kamuti believer (Kamba spell) – means that you can “pinch” that which isn’t yours with impunity. Remember the expression – “why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge?” Even judges have been for sale. I sure hope Chief Justice Willy Mutunga stamps out the vice in the Judiciary. Can he defeat the corrupt networks? Third, we are in love with leaders with shady or even criminal backgrounds. Just look at who we’ve elected into county and national offices. One wink and we all know what I am talking about. Some are land grabbers, suspects of egregious offences, drug addicts, and a sordid assortment of beefy-necked pillagers squat in public offices. That’s your fault – because you either elected them, or allowed them to manipulate their way into office. Remember the statement by French philosopher Joseph de Maistre – “every country has the government it deserves”. We elect our tormentors, and then wonder why we are being tormented. We aren’t victims, but self-victimisers. We just love that boot of the oppressor on our necks. Fourth, we are jealous and spiteful. Like maggots, we like to pull each other down. Why aren’t we happy for the success of others unless they belong to our mob? The election of Senator Barack Obama to the White House was one of the most important events that’s ever happened to Kenya. But a segment of our population has trashed him because he’s “Luo.” They’ve done so because he shunned Kenya after the 2007 re-election of President Mwai Kibaki, which he viewed as illegitimate. Then he skipped Kenya on his recent Africa tour because of The Hague trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Haters can’t see beyond President Obama’s Luo heritage. Hate only diminishes the hater. Finally, we are mediocre because we refuse to accept our mediocrity. We are the terminal patient living in complete denial. But denialists are usually doomed. Will damnation be our lot? What, as a country, can we do to accept that we are below average? For one, we can start by stopping hating everyone who tells us the bitter truth. When Mr Obama said he would skip Kenya, a prominent pundit asked Kenyans to “show him the contempt card.” Wow – as if Mr Obama cares. We should stop being so sensitive, and acting like silly brats. Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC Twitter @makaumutua