Monday, September 29, 2014

Abortion. Can we talk about it?

It is only the callous who will dismiss mental health as not being a problem. There are those who will deny that the mental health of a person is as important as physiological health. These are the people who lack the sophistication to understand the human anatomy and the complex biochemistry that human organs and the central nervous system that affects our mental health. It is why I am surprised that, according to recent research into the matter, that the church, whether traditional ones or the evangelical and pentecostal strains, has little to do, or say, about mental health.

One of the clues to this reluctance must be tied to the research by several leading healthcare providers and policy-makers regarding the link between crisis pregnancies and the mental health of the pregnant. Sexual assault is the most common cause of a crisis pregnancy. The assault alone is responsible for suicide, depression and a permanent state of fear in the victim. More often than not, if there is an ensuing pregnancy, it exponentially compounds the mental problems of the victim. Many Christian fundamentalists insist that if the physiological well-being of the victim is not at risk, she must not be permitted to terminate the unwanted pregnancy.

The debate around the termination of pregnancies is driven mostly by Christian fundamentalist extremism. Some extremists do not see the irony of murdering doctors who assist women to terminate pregnancies. In their warped sense of justice, they will murder doctors who assist women to terminate pregnancies because abortion is murder. The "killing of the unborn" is murder. All life is precious, so they tell us, especially the life of the unborn. They seem to be partial to an Abrahamic interpretation of the eye-for-and-eye rule that requires every "killing" to be answered by still more killing. I am surprised that they have not pushed for the amendment of the Penal Code to provide for capital punishment for women who procure an abortion.

Abortion is a very sensitive subject, whether one is a man, a woman, a man or woman of the cloth, a lawmaker or a disinterested observer. It raises passions. But there is something frightening about the moral certitude and absolutism of the religious fundamentalist, especially the Christian religious fundamentalist. There's absolutely no doubt that anything done my man to cause the death of the unborn is murder. There's absolutely no doubt that the penalty for that murder, in addition to the eternal fires of damnation, is death. There's absolutely no argument that can possibly be made to persuade them that in certain, exceptional and rare circumstances, that it would be preferable to abort a pregnancy than to carry it to term. To the Christian fundamentalist who is absolutely certain, all abortion is murder and the penalty for that murder is death.

Absolutist certitude shuts the door to compromise. It presumes that only one viewpoint can, shall prevail. It reduces all reason to something valueless. It brooks no dissent. It is the usually the preserve of the dictator who knows best about what his people desire, need. Religious fundamentalism is the worst form of tyranny. It is frequently fact-free. It sometimes attracts the least intelligent among us. It, ironically, breeds violence and death whereas the usual religious incantations speak of peace. Christian fundamentalists like the reviled Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are the purveyors of great intolerance and the contributors to intractable conflicts that will rage on and on because their adherents have given up the power to think and reason. It is for this reason why it is impossible to talk to a Kenyan Christian religious fundamentalist on abortion, especially if he has drunk full from the waters offered by the Falwells and Robertsons of the unhinged United States of America.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nation FM is a flawed teacher.

Every now and then, when the state of my world is particularly fraught with trepidation, hesitation and ennui the likes of which will make one weep with despair, I switch over my radio to the one FM station that it can catch, Nation FM and its State of the Nation morning show. Angela Angwenyi and Lorna Irungu-Macharia do a decent job trying to analyse contemporary events and topics with their visitors, some of whom have wit, wisdom and an on-air sense of style that the likes of Kiss 100 and Classic 105 can only dream of. This Friday morning they were knee-deep in the apparently knotty problem of weddings, with a tangential consideration of marriage as an institution.

What I was able to glean from the show despite the constant musical interruptions is that very few of us understand the difference between the two; indeed many conflate the two as the witty presenters did once in a while during the show. The second revelation was a bit surprising; the presenters implied that only the parties to a marriage could ever possibly understand the difference between the two. Finally, they fed their listeners this fallacy that a wedding was the principal cultural obligation if a man and a woman were to be considered legitimately married.

Every now and then we are reminded that the monied classes in Kenya are peculiar, more peculiar than the walking masses who inspired Michael Joseph's observations of our peculiar calling habits. State of the Nation is aimed at the burgeoning middle class that has come to "appreciate the finer things in life" and which will not bat an eyelid at spending a million shillings on a bottle of brandy. These are the people who set the public tone of debate on political, economic and, increasingly today, cultural matters. And they speak perfectly to the invited guests on State of the Nation, for these guests are a reflection of Nation FM's audience, their mores and their priorities.

The obsessive discussion, bother overt and sub rosa, of the place of money in our lives is a particular identifier of the Kenyan middle class. On today's State of the Nation show, it was clear that the participants were paying lip service to the social and cultural values of a wedding ceremony or, indeed, a marriage; but they sure were animated by the place of money in the wedding. While they all declared with varying degrees of emphasis that "I do not join wedding committees or give money" their discussions revolved around how resources for a wedding could be mobilised; whether friends and relatives should be asked to "do their bit" or whether they should volunteer; whether how much one spent was or was not indicative of the "classiness" of the event. (To them a marriage is an event and only after is it a solemn ceremony with social, cultural and economic significance.) State of the Union proves that Mammon is the god that rules our airwaves, even when we assiduously pretend that he is not.

State of the Nation and shows of its ilk have lulled us into a cozy dreamworld where bounty is to be had for little exertion. In a nation where half the population cannot afford more than one meal a day, and where more than two-thirds are one bad harvest away from famine, that bounty remains a fantasy that will never be realised. We have been sold a bill of goods by the peacocks of the upper economic classes who shape our views of the world through their playthings such as TV and FM radio stations. Angela and Lorna are the mouthpieces for a class that wants us to believe in the illusion that we are valued actors in the theatre of public discourse while in reality Lorna and Angela are the Houdini-like distraction from the economic, cultural and moral rapine of their masters. It is this illusion that has so far prevented the more ambitious among us from starting revolutions or uprisings and what has persuaded the majority of us to join in with the looters and perverters of justice n shouting down, and shooting down, those that do.

Maybe one day we will be lucky enough to get men and women with the capacity to contextualise contemporary issues and events, to look beyond the superficiality of soundbites and to offer a nuanced appreciation of the cultural differences that we have all along elided for the instant gratification that we have been told is our birthright. Angela and Lorna are charming and entertaining but they are not the voices of reason. Those broadcasting on our airwaves are yet to persuade all of us that they are voices of reason. They can entertain us; let them not continue pretending that they will educate us. They are not ready yet.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

MCAs are too unhinged to give them guns.

An elected representative in Kenya's National assembly does not seem to have the skills to handle a firearm but because he is an elected representative, a State officer and the nature of the work he does, he has been issued with a firearms license and walks about armed to the teeth like a Somali pirate. His misadventures in airports with his firearm seem not to have stilled the patently ridiculous demands by county elected representatives for firearms licenses, firearms and armed bodyguards. 

Members of County Assemblies argue that they too are elected representatives, State officers, and that their nature of their work entitles them to firearms and armed bodyguards. They should look to poor John Munyes who was shot in the hip by his bodyguard; bodyguards are no good if they cannot handle their firearms and end up turning them on their protectees. The members of the National Assembly and their colleagues in the Senate have severe mental health problems but in comparison with the people elected to county assemblies, Members of Parliament are sagacious and sober as the proverbial judge.

Members of County Assemblies, MCAs, are mentally unhinged; they are the spiritual successors of councillors. Some of them have demonstrated that the bawling, chair-throwing, fisticuffs-driven approach to political score-settling is something they approve of. So too extortion, blackmail and outright influence-peddling. You must remember the story of the semi-literate member of the Nairobi City County Assembly who could barely string a simple sentence together in English and who had somehow managed to travel to Italy to "learn about growing wine." Imagine that one with a Ceska 9mm semiautomatic pistol with 14 rounds of ammunition and a user's manual written in liability-avoiding legalese.

Our elected representatives are afraid of us. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way they practice their art. In the great game of politics, MCAs and MPs are united in their incompetence. They are quite frankly the worst people to know. They lie. They cheat. They set Kenyan against Kenyan. And some of them have an unhealthy obsession with other men's junk an they will not miss an opportunity to mention those other men's junk or a peculiar element of that junk. Still others have an obsession with bedding everything that's in  skirt such that their official offices have began to resemble Mexican bordellos.

So I do not take too kindly to Dr Abdi Nuh, the Speaker of the Tana River County Assembly's demand for firearms for his thousands of colleagues. I sympathise with Dr Nuh; Tana river is a very dangerous county. But the solution is not to turn MCAs into Rambo but to address the underlying social and economic schisms that have given rise to bandits and brigands. Dr Nuh's colleagues have not demonstrated that they have the self-control required to keep and bear firearms; they are to impetuous and full of themselves to be trusted with weapons of death.

In fact that rule that places guns in the hands of MPs and bodyguards at their beck and call should be repealed. If these people faced the same personal safety challenges ninety per cent of the citizens faced every day perhaps they would temper their words and concentrate their minds towards sorting out the public safety problems this nation clearly faces. If we do not trust them and some among us have less than benevolent intentions towards them it is their fault, not ours. The solution is not for the redeployment of scarce police manpower to keep philanderers safe from their irate spouses. Strip them all of their bodyguards. Yank their firearms licenses. If they don't sort out our problems, let them take their chances with the bandits and brigands just like we do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Who gave them guns?!

I don't like it when unstable people are issued with firearms licenses and then permitted to wander among us armed to the teeth. I don't mean policemen; I have learned to live with the fear that a boy in blue will one day run amok at my place of work and turn his firearm against us because by the time he gets to the eighth floor, he will have run out of rounds; or hopefully he'll stop on the fourth floor and sort out our "administrative" problems once and for all. 

But I digress; I do not mean policemen should not carry firearms (even though they really shouldn't) but that elected representatives and "businessmen" with chips on their shoulders should not be issued with firearms licenses. They definitely should not be allowed to own firearms or bear them in public, if at all. Their mental instability has been chronicled in the pages of the nation's dailies for the past decade in which we have lived in fear of what they might do when the chips were down. This past week one of them discharged his licensed firearm at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as he was handing it over to Kenya Airways staff prior to boarding a plane to Mombasa. The police tell us that no one was injured because at the time of the near-disaster, the firearm was "pointed in a safe direction."

Several things come to mind and not just the obvious ones like the exploding number of people with firearms who seem to be brandishing them or discharging them at airports. We haven't forgotten the arrogant Artur Brothers and their crass recklessness when they made the JKIA police authorities look like chumps in 2006. No, not that. The most interesting thing is that the Kenya Airports Authority, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, the National Police Service and Kenya Airways have a system for handling "VIPs" and their firearms when they pass through Kenya's airports: declare your firearm to the airline staff; hand it over to them in a "secure room"; board plane; travel; retrieve firearm; go on your merry way. I will worry now every time I board a plane in Kenya about how many firearms are on board, who has control of them and whether the ones who have control over the guns are as unstable as our elected representatives.

Something more insidious is apparent, though. That politician's firearm went off and the police are investigating whether the firearm is defective. They confiscated the firearm and allowed the MP to travel onwards to Mombasa. What should be of great concern to the thousands that pass through our domestic airports is that there are apparently untrained men and women carrying firearms in the airports who do not know how to properly handle those firearms.

We all remember the courage of Abdul Haji during the Westgate siege. We all recall his interviews after; during the siege he was calm enough to intervene in a dangerous situation without injuring any of his colleagues, unlike the members of the Kenya Defence Forces, or losing count of how many of his fourteen rounds he had fired. The MP-at-the-airport and his discharging firearm, on the other hand, raises doubts, serious ones too, that he even knows how many rounds his firearm holds, how to unload it, how to clean it or how to maintain it in a serviceable condition so that it does not accidentally go off in "sensitive" facilities such as airports.

Soon, hatutaomba serikali.

Every child fantisises that one day it will have a massive chunk of dough, a massive pile in Runda, a massive Mercedes-Benz and loads of fun with all four with its friends. Unless that child has been socialised in surroundings that have taken child abuse to hitherto unforeseen extremes, that child, if it is a lad, will not dream of a massive penis or the amount of sex it will enjoy because of the massive chunk of dough, the massive pile in Runda, the massive Mercedes-Benz or the massive penis. That, at least, was my impression until very, very recently.

No, I did not hear a boy extolling the virtues of phallic massiveness. And no, I did not hear a girl swooningly explain to her playmates what she would not do to behold, and be beheld, by phallic massiveness. What I heard ruined my dinner and put me off completely my drink. I couldn't even bring myself to consume some of BAT's finest blends because of the extreme degree of queasiness that suddenly assailed by lower intestines. Some of us have been unfortunate to be witness to depravities that would shock the conscience. So sometimes we think we have seen it all. Last night I was reminded that the mind of man is a spectacularly depraved one.

At that moment it occurred to me that the Man on the Street, as the standard that has been adopted for the reasonable person, must be re-evaluated if we are to confront the social schisms that threaten to rend asunder our nation and our coziest notions about who we are and what we are capable of. One of the most disturbing developments in the past few years has been the deaths of children over relatively small sums of money. Just yesterday a mother killed her child over twenty shillings. To the readers of this blog, twenty shillings is not a sum over which a child could be killed. To many, twenty shillings is the difference between a full meal after a long, hard day and a rumbling, empty stomach as one crawls into his beddings.

Mammon is the single important factor driving our every act today. It would not be such a prominent problem if we all earned a decent wage and were able to enjoy ourselves with relatively wild abandon. But la visit to Kenya's dying hotels at the coast and it is quite clear that the number of people who can enjoy themselves with any kind of abandon is quite small; the vast majority of the working masses can barely eke a living. Younger people are putting off families till much later than ever before. It is not just the needs of high education that are delaying births; the cost of raising a family in Kenya is getting ever more unsustainable. So we should expect ever greater numbers of parents killing their children over the loss of ever smaller sums of money.

We are all familiar with the Tunaomba Serikali phenomenon. A disaster strikes some place, or a negative trend becomes permanent, or our losses are the result of our greed. Whatever the reason be, we have witnessed Kenyans in abject circumstances begging their national government to do something. Much of the government, whether national or not, lives in opulent, comfortably leafy suburbia where their needs are met. All their needs are met. They want for nothing. But few of them pay for their wants through the sweat of their toil; they are the ticks that have sucked the cow of almost all its blood. They do it as a matter of right. They do it without a twinge of regret. They do not care that their insatiable avarice is the reason why mothers are killing their children over paltry twenty-shilling sums. They do it knowing that we will never set their comfortable lives on fire. Sooner, not later, we will prove them wrong.

Heckle away, good people.

Now that my initial post-Narok Schadenfreude has abated somewhat, and I have had the opportunity for further reflection, and I am quite sober, I believe that revisiting the question of whether or not political freedom should permit men and women to behave like a pack of hungry hyenas. President Kenyatta went to Migori and was heckled. The Governor organised a delegation to Nairobi to apologise. The President graciously accepted the apologies and asked the prosecuting authorities to let his hecklers free. So far the leader of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy seems to be on the backfoot.

But the Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly seems not have gotten the memo; he is volubly and aggressively courting political damnation by his utterances. So too, it seems, is his newest coalition colleague, the Member for Gatundu South who recently threatened the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the sack for not implementing the motion of the National Assembly to "pull out of the Rome Statute." Messrs Duale and Kuria seem of a kind and they are determined to prove for all the world to see that in the verbal combat and histrionics of the political arena in Kenya, they are not to be trifled with.

Kenya has always had a sharp-elbowed political elite, one that got by using tricks best reserved for the underworld of crime and corruption. This elite has played its games often at the expense of the people. It has exploited social defects to its advantage: poverty, unemployment, marginalisation and hunger. It is doing so today with the calls for referenda by the Minority Party and select governors. It is doing so today with the highly charged and highly misunderstood question of the Senate's oversight powers over the county governments, especially governors.

The developments over the past year have been dispiriting. The political elite continues to use voters as political cannon fodder, sometimes with tragic results. The political elite lives a life of luxury and will do all in its power to maintain the lifestyle to which it has become accustomed. But it is doing so against the interests of the people it claims to speak for. As a result, political cannon fodder is used, misused and abused to foment trouble and instability while political leaders who appear combative in front of the cameras strike deals to keep themselves in truffles forever.

The people, therefore, should exercise their political freedom to heckle all and sundry among the political elite even if that elite be the President or Leaders of the Majority Party. We have suffered because of political decisions to which our contributions were elided and ignored. Therefore, whenever a politician makes a crass remark or commits an unconscionable act, we must be at liberty to demonstrate our displeasure in a remonstration that might involve missiles of one sort or the other. It is the price the political elite must pay for the power they enjoy to make our lives solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Paranoia as a leadership tool.

The Government of Kenya has always been a very paranoid institution. Its paranoia was expressed in different ways, some creative, many crude. Its most effective, if that be the adjective, explorer of its paranoia was the provincial administration. It was a presidential "the walls have ears" facility of remarkable gossipy fecundity. It was the progenitor of death and destruction on a colossal scale. It received a plan all of its own when a new constitution was mooted. And yet four years down the constitutional road, the provincial administration thrives. It has proven to be remarkably resilient. Yet it has also changed and its changes are not for the better.

When we promulgated a constitution in 2010, one of its key elements was the restructuring of the provincial administration. The original idea was to disband it entirely. But the Committee of Experts, just like all other institutions in Kenya, was captured by the securocrats in Mwai Kibaki's government and persuaded that in a time of transition, in a hostile neighbourhood, and a bitterly contested election down the road, the people needed a tried-and-tested institution to assure them of their safety. Thus we ended up with the tepid "restructuring" clause, and not even in the body of the Constitution but as a section in the Sixth Schedule.

Since the promulgation, the pervasive growth of the securocracy has been unrelenting. The rebranded provincial administration is here to stay. Whatever the civil society industry may have wanted, this vestigial artifact of the colonial era is here to stay. Its tentacles are spreading too. The Special Branch was completely reformed under the imaginative Wilson Boinet. There are calls for a reversal of the reforms; there are those that would like to see the dreaded Special Branch resurrected in its original form. The National Intelligence Service that the retired Brig Gen Boinet established is looked at with suspicion by those who do not have an idea about what an intelligence service does. The newly appointed Philip Kameru should keep this in mind as he sorts out the inter-agency relationships with the rest of the securocracy.

In recent months it has become clear that security challenges have overwhelmed the National Executive. This might be an erroneous view; after all, the paranoid securocrats will not tom-tom their successes because quite frequently, their successes come at the expense of the people. Human rights abuses, that phrase that is the bread and butter of Boniface Mwangi and those of his ilk in the civil society industry, define the securocracy and maintain their paranoia at an extremely high level. In response to these challenges, rather than clear up the operational deficiencies they face by streamlining operations, reducing reporting levels and decentralising decision-making for efficiency and speed, securocrats are demanding ever greater, undefined, powers whose utility remains murky at best. It is why in national intelligence there are calls to grant intelligence officers the authority to arrest or detain, reforms in national policing seem to have ceased, and the Inspector-General is being placed in charge of non-police units such as the National Youth Service, the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service and all their disciplined personnel and equipment.

The paranoia of senior government officials leads them to see conspiracies where none exist. It creates monsters where there are none. The only reason why the Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly and like-minded windbags are extremely worried about the ruling of the International Criminal Court regarding the presence of the President at the status conference at The Hague in October. And why Isaac Ruto looks as if he is going to bust a gut over the political theatre by the Majority Leader. And why the Pesa Mashinani campaign has spooked so many national government windbags.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Code of THUG LIFE


1. All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.
2. Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.
3. One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.
4. Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!
5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.
6. Slinging to children is against the Code.
7. Having children slinging is against the Code.
8. No slinging in schools.
9. Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth, ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.
10. Snitches is outta here.
11. The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the Hood, and make it safe for squares.
12. No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!
13. Know your target, who’s the real enemy.
14. Civilians are not a target and should be spared.
15. Harm to children will not be forgiven.
16. Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.
17. Senseless brutality and rape must stop.
18. Our old folks must not be abused.
19. Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.
20. Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.
21. Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.
22. No shooting at parties.
23. Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!
24. Know the Code; it’s for everyone.
25. Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.
26. Protect yourself at all times..

Some other Interpretations:
Thug Life means - The Hate U Gave Lil'' Infants Fucks Everyone.
NIGGA means - Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.
OUTLAW stands for ''Operating Under Thug Laws As Warriors''
MOB stands for Member Of Bloods and /or Money Over Bitches


Code OF THUG LIFE:

1. All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.

2. Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.

3. One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.

4. Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!

5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.

6. Slinging to children is against the Code.

7. Having children slinging is against the Code.

8. No slinging in schools.

9. Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.

10. Snitches is outta here.

11. The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the Hood, and make it safe for squares.

12. No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!

13. Know your target, who’s the real enemy.

14. Civilians are not a target and should be spared.

15. Harm to children will not be forgiven.

16. Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.

17. Senseless brutality and rape must stop.

18. Our old folks must not be abused.

19. Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.

20. Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.

21. Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.

22. No shooting at parties.

23. Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!

24. Know the Code; it’s for everyone.

25. Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.

26. Protect yourself at all times..


Some other Interpretations:

Thug Life means - The Hate U Gave Lil'' Infants Fucks Everyone.

NIGGA means - Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.

OUTLAW stands for ''Operating Under Thug Laws As Warriors''

MOB stands for Member Of Bloods and /or Money Over Bitches
- See more at: http://www.thuglifearmy.com/code-of-thug-life.html#sthash.E0V4Nj7S.dpuf
Code OF THUG LIFE:

1. All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.

2. Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.

3. One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.

4. Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!

5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.

6. Slinging to children is against the Code.

7. Having children slinging is against the Code.

8. No slinging in schools.

9. Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.

10. Snitches is outta here.

11. The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the Hood, and make it safe for squares.

12. No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!

13. Know your target, who’s the real enemy.

14. Civilians are not a target and should be spared.

15. Harm to children will not be forgiven.

16. Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.

17. Senseless brutality and rape must stop.

18. Our old folks must not be abused.

19. Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.

20. Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.

21. Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.

22. No shooting at parties.

23. Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!

24. Know the Code; it’s for everyone.

25. Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.

26. Protect yourself at all times..


Some other Interpretations:

Thug Life means - The Hate U Gave Lil'' Infants Fucks Everyone.

NIGGA means - Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.

OUTLAW stands for ''Operating Under Thug Laws As Warriors''

MOB stands for Member Of Bloods and /or Money Over Bitches
- See more at: http://www.thuglifearmy.com/code-of-thug-life.html#sthash.E0V4Nj7S.dpuf

That day changed everything.

The outrage has not abated. A year ago I was a visitor in a strange land with strange customs, strange foods and an aggressive-sounding patois to its employment of the Queen's English. I sat horrified before my TV in the hotel watching a Nairobi landmark going up in smoke. Al Jazeera and CNN and BBC said the same thing. The Westgate Mall was under siege. Dozens of my fellowman had been murdered by terrorists. Several police had been killed by soldiers. Soldiers? This was not a scene from John McTiernan's Die Hard. What I was seeing was something I thought happened Over There.

One year later we are still outraged. Because of the terrible loss of life. Because of the mumbling, bumbling incompetence of the men in charge. Because of the lies we were told. Because al Shabaab seemed to become more and more emboldened. Because even now we do not know what really happened. We were lied to. We lied to again and again to cover the lies that we had been told - and those we had not.

Our outrage will dissipate, so they say. With time, everything dissipates. But they forget that the memory will linger for as long as we draw breath. We will forever know that when the chips were down, it were a handful of policemen and civilians who picked up the gantlet thrown down by al Shabaab and acted with courageous selflessness. On that day, when chaos reigned, and Harambee House was a Babel of confusion, these men and women saved lives and paid the price.

None of us will forget the outrage the police felt when the ill-trained soldiers killed their colleagues. Noe of us will forget the shame we felt when we saw that Cabinet Secretary being marionetted by the Chief of Defence Forces on live TV. None will forget the stone-faced sun-glassed visage of the silent Cabinet Secretary, the one who remained mum for the entire period of crisis. None of us will forget the despair we experienced when the Commander-in-Chief spoke to us and made promises which he is yet to honour.

In a year many of us have accepted and many of us have moved on. But the families of the slain can do neither. They - we - demand answers. We want to know why our parents, siblings, children, friends...died. We want to know why policemen sent to the rescue died. We want to know how our borders were penetrated by four men. We want to know who their accomplices were. We want to know why a building in the control of soldiers was looted. We want to know why!

Some of us will never accept. Some will never move on. Until we know the truth there will always be a hole in our collective psyche. There will always be doubt that things are as we are told they are. The fear will always be there; should we or shouldn't we visit Sarit Centre, TRM, Prestige Plaza, The Junction, Village Market? Is it safe to take Kiambu Road, Forest Road, Uhuru Highway, Langata Road? Is the man waving a firearm around a friend or not? Until we know it all, we may never trust the simple things in life again. That day changed everything.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Don't mess with the king, Mr Ruto.

I don't Miss JJ Kamotho any more. I vaguely remember Sharaif Nassir, so I don't miss him at all. For a minute I thought that Mike Sonko was The One, but then he went into that whole Rachel Shebesh thing and we all lost our collective interest in him. For a time Jakoyo Midiwo and Otieno Kajwang' seemed like they could be The One, but Mr Midiwo lacks panache and the legal fraternity still has a less than friendly opinion of Mr Kajwang'. But the gods of Kenya's politics smiled on us. They rewarded us for our patience. They have bequeathed on us the spiritual successor to JJ Kamotho and Sharif Nassir. All hail the rise of Aden Bare Duale, Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly, Member for Garissa Township (United Republican Party) and scourge of all rebellious Jubilee governors.

On Monday, the fifteenth, Mr Duale brought his A Game; attending something to celebrate the Maasai Mara, in the presence of the Deputy President, the Governors of Narok and Bomet and a visiting delegation from Tanzania, Mr Duale, as some wildly descriptive members of the Fourth Estate reported the affair, frothed at the mouth as he caviled with wild abandon at the Governor of Bomet, Isaac Ruto. Mr Duale brought his limited, but rapidly improving, oratorical skills and troublesome and troubling Swahili to bear in a tour de force that Mr Ruto from Bomet will not soon forget. Mr Duale reminded us, for many of us have forgotten, that loyalty to the king must be demonstrated and demonstrated with passion. Mr Kamotho must be chuckling to himself in satisfaction, Mr Nassir must be resting easy for his banner has been passed on to one worthy of his skills.

On Monday Mr Duale reminded Mr Ruto from Bomet that being the Big Fish in a Small Pond in one of the nation's rural backwaters was a perilous situation; every now and then a Bigger Fish will be introduced into the pond to control other predators. The results are sometimes quite disastrous for the erstwhile Big Fish. Mr Ruto from Bomet has been introduced to the political iteration of Newton's Third Law of Motion. Mr Duale was the proxy for the Deputy President and the President. On Monday My Duale cemented his place in the king's court; he proved his loyalty and he did it in style.

Mr Ruto from Bomet is scrambling to counter the verbal semi-trailer that ran over him on Monday. He is busily organising groups of sniffy miffed wazees to give press interviews decrying the unwarranted attack by Mr Duale. It is not working. If it had been a playground fight in Jericho's Rabai Road Primary School, Mr Duale would be First Body and Mr Ruto from Bomet would be the kid from Buru who's ass had been well and truly handed to him. What Mr Ruto from Bomet doesn't need to organise press interviews and shit like that; he needs to take the fight to the President and the Deputy President; they are the only ones who count in this War of the Referendum. Mr Duale is merely a foot-soldier in the service of the king. His destruction is neither here nor there. He is of no consequence.

In politics, as in football, everyone must learn to play in his position. Mr Duale knows his position; he is not the Mario Balotelli of the Jubilee Alliance. That position goes to the king. He has just reminded Mr Ruto from Bomet that Mr Ruto too must play in his position. He may be the chairman of the club of governors, but that doesn't mean anything unless the king says it does. If he wants more money for the counties, it is not the people who are going to give it to him, as Mr Duale reminded him. It is the law. And the law is made in Parliament. And Parliament will do the king's bidding. Therefore, Mr Ruto from Bomet must go, hat in hand, with his begging bowl to the king. He must curtsy, genuflect and pay obeisance. If he does not, the next time Mr Duale sets off on him, he might not hold back. It will be a case of out of the frying pan and into the blast furnace of presidential umbrage. At that time, what Mr Ruto from Bomet considered a rock-hard certainty of his place in the Bomet political firmament may turn out to have been a figment of his imagination.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A purge is the only way.

A year ago when the President made one of his "promises" regarding the "fight against corruption" I warned you that:
The solution, as with all things, is simple in theory, and hairy to implement in reality. Simply enforce the laws of the land as they were meant to be enforced. There should be no special favours or considerations. If you are caught in wrongdoing, only a good lawyer should get you off. If you wish to trade with the government, you should not sweeten your tender with a briefcase full of dollars. And so on and so forth. Theory? Good. Implementation? When hell freezes over.
Jasper Mbiuki, the secretary, Legislative Affairs and Regulatory Compliance, in the Office of the President, has decided to get in on the Give-The-President-Something-To-Do bandwagon: Uhuru Kenyatta is single-handedly going to win the War on Drugs.

We will not quibble overmuch regarding the excessively legalistic interpretation of court order and the like except to say, the President is not a magistrate or a judge, and the president does not have the authority to demand the destruction of narcotic drugs (unless they are interdicted in the high seas by the Kenya Defence Forces) or vessels transporting drugs. He should also familiarise himself intimately with the provisions of the narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994, especially with Part III. I wonder whether he will revise his expert opinion regarding the President's powers regarding seizure and destruction of narcotics-bearing vessels.

Mr Mbiuki is a veteran of the #TeamJubilee election campaign of 2012 and 2013. He is not a professional civil servant; his understanding of the public service leads him to make obvious errors of perception. He must have observed what bBaba Moi and Baba Jimmi got up to and forgetting that the Constitution today is not the one that prevailed yesterday, seems to paint the picure of a President who can "lead from the front" in the War on Drugs.

The President is not the Inspector-General of Police, the Director of Criminal Investigations, the Director of National Intelligence or the Chief of Defence Forces. It is only the Chief of Defence Forces that the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, can command to do anything with the caveat that the orders must be lawful and in writing. The entire policing structure is insulated from the orders of the President or anybody, bar only an order of the courts.

The War on Drugs is not about the President blowing up things in the high seas; it is about a seamless collaboration among the National Police, the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Immigration and the Kenya Defence Forces, not to mention collaboration with similar agencies in neighbouring nations and global counter-narcotics organisations. It will mean working with the Directorates of Public health in the 47 counties to implement a proper policy on public education regarding the risks associated with illegal drugs use. 

If the War on Drugs, like the anti-poaching efforts of the 1980s and 1990s, were to succeed, it would not do so simply because the President has decided to scuttle a ship and its cargo in the high seas. It will only succeed when it is made abundantly clear to the doubtful that those who have taken a less-than-robust approach in the fight, that their days are numbered. Those that have taken bribes to look the other day are no longer welcome. Should they be caught, they can expect the full might of the State to come down on them like the proverbial tonne of bricks. Those who have "gone slow", who have compromised, who have vacillated and who have misread the presidential spine should be encouraged to find greener pastures elsewhere.

Blowing up things is what small children do. Is Mr Mbiuki suggesting that the presidency is engaged in an infantile exercise as part of the war on Drugs? We know why we are losing the war: corrupt public officers, including those in the disciplined services. And we know fatter salaries will not solve the problem. If Mr Mbiuki and the President want to win, it is not enough to blow things up. They must inspire us. They can only do so by purging every sclerotic part of the State's firmament. Purge and purge ruthlessly. It is the only way.

I am intolerant.

Stupidity can be addictive.

I wish I hadn't written that. What I want to say without sounding like an Ivory Tower jerk is that if you are going to purport to speak for me, whether it is in our august house or in church or at the local publican, I would rather that you read slightly more than the blurbs for books written by Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Paulo Cuehlo or Donald Trump. Read the whole book. Keep a copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary by your side; there will be words whose sense you will find extremely difficult to determine. Read widely. And Lord help me, but if you quote any American self-help guru, do not be offended if I snigger in derision.

On this rather sunny Monday, I am informed that I am expected to vote at a referendum in August 2015. I intend to sit with one or two of my peers an listen to their justifications for or against the idea. I will not be surprised if between the three of us there are ten opinions; I am after all a lawyer and I will be for against, partly for, partly against, mostly for, mostly against and undecided on the whole affair. Or it will seem like I am anyway. What I will not attempt, nor will my friends, is to speak for someone who has the capacity to think for themselves. I will make a decision regarding the spectacular waste of my time (are an act of great patriotism) that is the referendum.

But there is a group of men and women who have made it their mission in life to pretend to know what I would or would not approve, want, like, et cetera. One of them is a bald-headed, mustachioed-goateed bruiser from Kiambu who's obsessions are peculiar, even by Kenyan standards. Another has a slight squint, a tremulous alto and an inferiority complex that frequently calls for a hyperbolic conversational style and a multi-SUV cavalcade that's frequently running out of money. Still there is one who refuses to call herself a "journalist", has a massive superiority complex and who wishes to join certain clubs without just quite meeting the minimum requirements. She tries, but trying is not enough. Another has become the voice of the male-female minefield though he remains unencumbered by spouses or children so far as we know. Then there is that pair that have done a lot to elevate the degree of public debate without quite doing that; they have, however, managed to sensationalise public affairs using a crass veneer of quasi-intellectual discourse.

It is exhausting listening to these people. The willpower it takes not to rip out the home theatre system (borrowed) or the flat-screen TV (three installments remaining) from the wall (there will be a fee for the repairs once I "shift") and hurling them over the balcony (rented) onto the street below (it is a quiet street) is overwhelming sometimes. As a person who has witnessed the rise of the techno-society of screens and cables and broadband Wi-Fi, I am willing to tolerate a certain degree of loucheness when it comes to the employment of certain rules of grammar, syntax and sentence construction, in any language. My friend Leonard will tell you that it is the Octal System that rules our lives today.

I am prepared to turn a blind eye to the perfidious nature of the ruling classes and I will tolerate their avarice in their quest for ever more creature comforts. We are, after all, spectacularly selfish, though we are loath to admit it. I am prepared to harden my heart against the privations and depredations that the huddled and unwashed masses endure; life is not fair, is it? However, I am prepared to be intolerant, and to display my intolerance in extreme ways, of those who take to the public arena and mouth inanities. I am intolerant of those who will scoff at ideas because they do not understand those ideas. I am intolerant of those whose conceptualisation of public discourse is reduced to peculiar obsessions with penises, or marital infidelity, or Stalinist militarisation of public institutions. My intolerance is unremitting against the buffoon. I wear it with pride.

We are a nation of laws.

Every time one of our fearless leaders or his minions warbles that, "We are a nation of laws," I have to resist the urge to giggle hysterically. Like a teenage schoolgirl. Quite frequently the personage engaging in pomposity has been embroiled in some legal difficulty and come out of it victorious, usually at the expense of some long-standing social convention and after the employment of hitherto unknown statutory loophole. That victory, as is often the case, is also at the expense of a Small Fish. But it does not take away from the fact that we are a nation of laws. Many, many laws.

This is the legacy of the British colonists in East Africa. In addition to borders and colonies, the Berlin Conference introduced in Africa the concept of written laws that were primarily used to lie, cheat and steal without being called lying, cheating or stealing. They bequeathed on an entire continent "legal tender" and made it the controlling factor of our very existence. The demonstrated how penal statutes and penal systems could become the cornerstone of government. There are many things that the British colonists taught us in Kenya and Uganda, but none has stuck more than hypocrisy and the superiority complex that infects the ruling classes the moment they acquire a bit of power.

Our hypocrisy is demonstrated rather starkly by the spectacular number of laws we have on the books. We criminalise everything. I was surprised to discover that even in the writing of academic curricula, for which we have enacted at least three statutes in the past forty years, there are laws that could lead to imprisonment for term of years. Years! For committing an offence in the writing of a curriculum! But this hypocrisy would not be notable if it were not for the pompous superiority with which the ruling classes wield the law.

The American War of Independence  and the French Revolution were fought, primarily, over taxes. Taxes imposed by kings, collected by the king, spent by the king, spent as the king saw fit. Taxes over which the people on whom the taxes were imposed had no say. Taxes based on laws made by the king without the people's consent. Taxes that could ruin livelihoods, families, reputations. Civilised societies (never mind their slave-holding, slave-trading foundations) that determined that the king was wrong. In America they fought a revolution. In France the nobility became intimately familiar with the guillotine.

So it is in Kenya. In our leaders' minds, the reason Kenyans are Kenyans is so that they can pay the ever-swingeing taxes our leaders come up with. Whether harebrained schemes our leaders come up with work out or not is not the point; they will impose taxes for the realisation of those schemes and those who complain are either in the pay of foreign agents or are unpatriotic sour-pusses with massive chips on their shoulders and political axes to grind. In the manner of the British colonists, our leaders insist that we must meekly obey the laws they enact; when we rebel even a little, the wrath of the system will be brought to bear sometimes with spectacular vehemence. (Think of the five years imprisonment on average chicken thieves and phone snatchers get handed against the "fines" billionaire tax-dodgers, tax-cheats and tender-swindlers pay.

The laws on our books are well-written. For the most part, their enforcement is pretty good. The discerning will discover, though, that the laws are meant to police the poor and the weak, the ones who are likely to have major differences with the way taxes are collected, spent and stolen. It is why the law books are thrown at them the moment they step even slightly out of line. It is why liars, cheats, pederasts, sex-pests, murderers, traitors and thieves will pompously declaim, "We are a nation of laws" without batting an eyelid or an ounce of shame.

Shoe petitions and civilisation.

Dr Makodingo Washington is offended by Boniface Mwangi's assertion that shoe petitions have any place in Kenya's politics. The good pharmacist is offended that hecklers, shoe-throwers and rabble-rousers "attended" a rally at which the Head of State presided over a Global Fund programme to distribute treated mosquito nets in conjunction with the Government of Migori County. The indefatigable civil society bruiser, however, sees nothing wrong in the 'downtrodden" masses taking each and every opportunity they can find to make their feelings manifestly known to the man whom they blame for the sorry state of their lives.

Both may be right; equally, both may be wrong. Both their positions hinge on whether Kenya is indeed a civilised democracy. During the furore over the deaths of dozens for Kenya from adulterated alcoholic beverages, the word "civilised" was also bandied about, with the consensus being that those who chose to drink in "those filthy surroundings" and who were poisoned by their suppliers of the hooch were definitely not civilised and those that chose to drink bottled, Kenya Bureau of Standards-inspected alcoholic beverages in properly licensed pubs were.

I do not believe that Kenyans are a civilised people. Not yet. Not even with the increasingly large number of billionaires and millionaires, and the thousands upon thousands of men and women who go on to complete formal education all the way to the graduate and post-graduate levels. In civilised society, where the rules are obeyed by all, whether they are statutes or social rules of conduct, the ones who breach the rules are known and shamed. They are not rewarded. They are not celebrated. They are not respected. They are shunned. The people of Migori who hurled missiles and epithets at the President reflected our degree of civilisation. The reminded us that it is pretty damn low.

It might be a Gatundu thing but few remember that it is the President, when he was a mere Member of Parliament, who first referred to his opponent's foreskin in public. It has now become the preferred epithet of the President's choice as member of Gatundu South, the man elected unopposed because it is believed the President prevailed on all other contenders to step aside for him. Even in the heat of political combat, where the ordinary rules of the political game are sometimes suspended, it takes a particular crass character to use a cultural shibboleth as a political stiletto against ones opponent. In discerning whether or not we are civilised, that allusion to foreskins says it all about our degree of civilisation.

Omingo Magara, the head honcho of the People's Democratic Party, under which the Governor of Migori was elected, argues that it is un-African for "hosts" to attack their guests in the manner that the Migori hecklers did. Surely Mr Magara must know that visits among chiefs are not simply arranged over a weekend. The ground work is laid over a period of weeks, sometimes even months. Emissaries visit with the most influential villagers and agree to terms. The senior chief's visit is a choreographed affair, even if he is an unwelcome guest. The preservation of "face" is the ultimate sign of our Africanness. Whether Mr Magara wishes to admit it or not, the President's visit to Migori was ill-planned and he has none to blame but himself and his minders.

Kenya is undergoing tremendous change amidst great polarisation. Regardless of the rosy declarations by the World Economic Forum or the Bretton Woods Institutions, there is despondency abroad in the land. The President is the symbol of national unity but his choices do not seem to reflect that constitutional description. He has certainly united his friends behind him. He also seems to have solidified the opposition's animus against his rule. His public service appointments, whether they are merited or not, will not civlise us; they will only guarantee that shoe-throwing incidents become more common, and the dignity of his office is lowered.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Who gives a shit?

What does "due process" mean, really? We have always understood it as the protection of he rights of the individual when he or she is undergoing an administrative or legal process, quite often a criminal process. Issa Timamy was accused of being part of the conspiracy that led to the violent murders at Mpeketoni in Lamu. He was arrested. He was arraigned in court in Mombasa. He applied to be released on bail. The Director of Public Prosecutions asked the court to deny him bail because "investigations were still on-going." The court granted him bail. Now the court has ordered that Mr Timamy be set free, that no charges be preferred against him, and that his five-million shilling bail be paid back to him.

Mr Timamy is the Governor of Lamu. President Kenyatta, even while the fires were still smouldering in Mpeketoni, accused "local political networks" of being culpable in the Mpeketoni attacks. Mr Timamy is a member of the Amani Alliance, which has had a falling out with the Jubilee Alliance. Is Mr Timamy a member of the "local political networks" that the President alluded to and are his arrest and prosecution the Inspector-general's and the DPP's response to the President's accusation?

Mr Timamy arrest and prosecution echoes the charging of the President at the International Criminal Court before sufficient evidence had been obtained, analysed and relied on to file charges. Mr Kenyatta is likely to escape the clutches of the ICC because of the shambolic manner that his case was handled. In his case, the Office of the Prosecutor did not follow due process in his zeal to bring someone, anyone, to book for the post-election violence in Kenya. It is understandable that a foreign court would get it wrong when it came to dealing with a powerful Kenyan. That  is not an excuse that will satisfy Kenyans.

When Mr Timamy was arrested it was more than a week after the fires had been put out in Mpeketoni. In that time the President, he Interior cabinet secretary, the Inspector-General and the DPP had given assurances and undertakings that no stone would be left unturned in the investigation and prosecution of those behind the attacks. Under the current constitutional dispensation, due process should have guided all these characters on what could and what could not be done. the days of arresting someone, asking the courts to deny them bail and then complete the investigations are long done. They were a mockery on due process. They were the foundation for the torture chambers of Nyayo House and Nyati House, and they were the justification for the extra-legal execution of Mungiki leaders and their followers. If they dd not have the proof to successfully ensure Mr Timamy's trial and conviction, they should not have arrested him only to have the courts set him free later.

It is not enough for the main players in the administration of justice machinery to declare that they will respect due process without doing much to change the culture of riding roughshod over everyone that has defined that sector for three generations. Mr Timamy may very well have been involved, but the crude insertion of political considerations in the investigations demolished whatever chance for credible investigations there might have been. The people's confidence in the courts, the forces of law and order and the National Executive is a an all time low and the contemptuous treatment of constitutional principles by all three is doing nothing ton  restore that confidence. If a Governor of an important county can be treated with that degree of official and prosecutorial contempt, what of the working masses, the poor, the weak and the semi-literate that the State is determined to leave by the wayside of the road to Vision 2030 glories?

From Jomo to General.

My office happens to be under the flight path to the Eastleigh Air Force Base and lumbering Buffaloes and rather posh BizJets, all emblazoned with military colours, drone constantly overhead these days. Whether referenda take place or not, there is little likelihood that these planes will suddenly stop flying; after all, they do not belong to the National Police Service Air Wing. They belong, more or less, to the Kenya Defence Forces and those people are, more or less, professionals. Right?

In the past week, the Commander-in-Chief decided to witness some military thing in Isiolo and so, with the joie de vivre of a politician on the make, he decided to don jungle camouflage. (He should have worn spit-polished black combat boots instead of the USMC-lite desert camouflage boots he decided to wear.) He looked very martial with the five stars on his Commander-in-Chief's hat. Then he decided to go to Migori in a tan suit and "rowdy youths" threw extremely worn out akalas at him. (I think they were unhappy that he looked like C-in-C in Isiolo and came to see them dressed like the village headmaster.)

The jungle fatigues and the tan suit have everything to do with the referenda that seem to have thrown the National Executive into a panic. And those who do not think that the National Executive is not in a panic should witness the zeal with which the National Police Service is "investigating" and "prosecuting" the Migori Akala Affair in a bid to drive home the point that you either give the referenda a pass or suffer the attentions of the National Government in all its oppressive glory.

There is a generation of Kenyans that witnessed the tough-as-nails approach to dissident-destruction under both the Jomo Kenyatta and Moi dictatorships. Even the recent sickening fawning over the twenty-four years of Nyayo have yet to dim the memories of many people regarding the testicles that were squeezed and the assassinations that were committed or the fifteen years of cronyism, ethnic jingoism and constitutional upheavals that came before.

If there is one thing the late Jomo Kenyatta and the very much alive and kicking Baba Moi are thankful for it is that Kenyans were pussies when it came to standing up to the forces of corruption and dictatorship the two unleashed. The two documented coup attempts were by the military whose incompetence even then was something to behold. What we ended up with is not peace or calm; we ended up with a fifty year experiment in managed failure. Kenya may celebrate the entrepreneurial and industrial exploits of Tabitha Karanja, Manu Chandaria and Vimal Shah, but the despondency of the youth in every generation has only deepened. Today there are ever larger numbers of teenagers and young men and women under the age of twenty-five engaging in violent criminal acts than at any time in our history.

And as the National Executive reacts in panic, it does us no favours. It is militarising policing and the Youth Service. It has foolishly made the Inspector-General a spectacularly powerful individual, placing under his command the National Youth Service and the disciplined forces of the forest and wildlife services. Giving the Inspector-General an even greater footprint is the first step on the slippery slope of a scenario right out of George Orwell's 1984. And the referenda threats are the best excuse the Commander-in-Chief has for guaranteeing that we will see more and more of him out of mufti and in the combat gear of a militaristic C-in-C.

Bad prosecutor.

I am a lawyer. Much to my dear parents' great disappointment, I am a crap lawyer. Chances are if I were to appear against even a middling lawyer before one of Willy Mutunga's judges, I'd lose the matter, my client would lose his shirt and my unbroken streak of un-accomplishments would remain unsullied. But just because I am shit when it comes to the extreme sport that is lawyering in Kenya does no mean that my training was in vain. Even the dullest knife in our particular drawer can still cut through butter. It is why my befuddlement at the hemming and hawing by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is deepening by the month.

Under Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an accusation was made against Uhuru Kenyatta who was at that time a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. Mr Moreno-Ocampo relied on the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence better known as the Waki Commission. He also relied on the report of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights headed a that time by Florence Simbiri Jaoko. Then there was the spirited campaign by the civil society industry in Kenya, especially by Makau Mutua and Maina Kiai, to ensure that the sponsors of the post-election violence did not get away Scot free.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo, by all professional accounts to date, did a shoddy job. He charged Mr Kenyatta with grave international crimes and then went fishing for evidence when the Waki Commission Report and all the other reports proved to be less than adequate. Then he retired. Fatou Besouda, the indefatigable lawyer from the Gambia, took up the job from where Mr Moreno-Ocampo had left off. I wonder if she stays up at night cursing the day Mr Moreno-Ocampo decided to build a mansion on quicksand.

It is increasingly evident that Mr Moreno-Ocampo's preparation was grossly inadequate. It is so for many prosecutors dealing with criminal matters that rely overwhelmingly on eye-witness testimony. This is not like the convictions that the Manhattan District Attorney has secured for insider trading in New York. Preet Bharara has had the good fortune of documentary evidence, only relying on witness testimony to confirm what is contained in thousands of pages of financial transactions.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo and Ms Bensouda had entirely different challenges to surmount. The most difficult is that while Kenya prides itself as a modern nation, it is in fact still stuck in the pre-digital age where paper documents reigned. The sort of records that a Manhattan DA would rely on are almost certainly unavailable. Then Mr Moreno-Ocampo made the mistake of taking Mwai Kibaki's and Raila Odinga's word that they would guarantee the co-operation of the Government of Kenya forgetting that while Mr Kibaki had the power, he was a lame duck looking for  successor, Mr Odinga did not have the power to ensure co-operation at all.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo and his successor were taken round the mulberry bush and we are now faced with the uncomfortable spectre of the collapse of the Deputy President's trial and the withdrawal of charges against the President. Moreno-Ocampo was a bad prosecutor. Ms Bensouda is paying the price. Whether it happens today or in a year's time, Ms Bensouda will have no choice to withdraw charges against Uhuru Kenyatta. And given the litany of recantations and witness hostility, Mr Ruto's trial seems set to collapse spectacularly.

They all fall, eventually

The member of the National Assembly for Mumias East is a spectacularly unpleasant character. But he is not unique. A former member of the Na...