Monday, April 11, 2016

I stand with Diogenes

While according to the Chief Justice his actions may not be criminal, they are unethical, immoral and plain wicked - iniquities that cannot be charged within our judicial system. The prosecutor can only be Ndii’s Conscience, but even then, only when he undertakes to free it from those whose interests the article serves.—Daisy Maritim, The Star, 11/4/16
There are three assumptions in the startling declaration by Ms Maritim: that Mr Ndii's assertions of March 26 are not crimina; that they are unethical, immoral and plain wicked; and that he made the assertions in the service of some other person (presumably one who wants Raila Odinga to be elected in 2017). Ms Maritim is right that Mr Ndii has not committed a crime. On her other two assumptions, she neither proffers proof nor realises that her assumptions are based on a terrible misconception of Mr Ndii's March 26 assertions.

Mr Ndii seeks to warn that unless Kenya finds a way to reignite the spark that led to anti-colonial unity among the people's of Kenya and helped rally the same peoples around an idea that was Kenya after the colonial era, Kenya's breakup will occur, whether it is a peaceable enough process or, as Ms Maritim fears, one accompanied by piles of bodies on the doorsteps of the US embassy. (She seems not to have read Mr Ndii's followup on April 9 either. She should.)

Ms Maritim states unequivocally that Mr Ndii's article serves some other person's interests and bases this declaration on the fact that [Mr Ndii's article's] "purpose is to subliminally condition the populace to a choice of two extremes - a favorable poll outcome for Raila or death and anarchy. His is to begin an intense peddling of a ‘Kenya will burn’ narrative." Nowhere in the March 26 article is Raila Odinga mention; this a frequent bogey for those launching ad hominem attacks on Mr Ndii.

Whether one agrees with Mr Ndii or not, he certainly did not declare that he wanted Kenya to divorce itself; I hope what he really wanted was a debate on whether Kenya's nation-making project has stalled or if it can be revived. The devolution programme has thrown up some unpleasant truths; few counties, save maybe for Nairobi, have a cosmopolitan county government, the instincts of governors and their parties being to employ or elect "their people." The ostensible reason is economic devolution, but what we seem to have devolved are, in Ms Maritim's words, the unethical, immoral and plain wicked behaviours that have been bred into the national government by decades of tribalism, nepotism and corruption. These behaviours have disconnected Kenyans from each other, and no matter how many patriotic kumbayyas we sing, that remains true today as it did when Jomo Kenyatta proscribed the Kenya People's Union in 1969.

The disconnectedness is most manifest in how county governments have organised themselves. Not even Nairobi City County's is a true melting pot. Reflecting the ethnic mix of the National Government (as indicted by the Nation Cohesion and Integration Commission), it is a coalition of a few tribes, held together by a web of corruption that continues to immiserate the lives of Nairobi's long-suffering residents. This is reflected in all forty six remaining counties. We may never divorce as a country, but our political separation seems well and truly underway. In Mr Ndii's latest reflections, he warns that unless one reads the signs and draws the proper conclusions, it is likely that one will see more new monuments as proof of the existence of a nation. The signs of dysfunction have always been there; all the white elephants erected since 1969 are proof of it.

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