Monday, October 18, 2021

It's time to send a message

Barely a decade has passed since "Ocampo Six", "Ekaterina", "Bensouda", "ICC" and "Waki Envelope" defined the run up to a general election. The tragic events that followed Mr. Samuel Kivuitu's declaration of the winner of the 2007 presidential election continue to define and redefine Kenyans and their relationship to their government. Of the many men and women who were party to the events that defined the aftermath of the election and the outcome of the abortive trial at the International Criminal Court, none cuts as tragic a figure as the former vice chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and first post-2010 senator of Mombasa County.

Those who care to remember will remember the passion he brought to his task investigating the violence that followed Mr. Kivuitu's declaration. Of the members of the Commission, he came across as unusually ardent, so much so that when rumours swirled about how witnesses had been bought and official reports manipulated, his name was linked to the rumours though no proof was ever adduced and the matter was allowed to rest. No one will remember the public investigation of the cause and aftermath of the 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence without remembering his public crusade to bring the perpetrators of the violence, especially the so-called Ocampo Six, to justice, whether here in kenya or at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

He trod a well-trodden path after his stint on the Commission was over. He joined a political party, the darling of the voters. He was popularly elected to the Senate as his county's first senator. He became a vocal member of the elected classes. Then he had a falling out with his party leader and, in his bid to be re-elected, lost his party's nomination and his deposit in the bargain. Ever since, he has cut an increasingly pitiable figure in his quest to find political redemption and relevance while out in the electoral cold.

In recent months he has found a friend in one of the men he once passionately accused of crimes against humanity, who offers him the hope of an electoral comeback. Together they have walked, as his new benefactor seeks to become Kenya's fifth head of state and government. To those who can remember the firebrand who pursued justice as a Commissioner, his transformation is a true head-scratcher, a reverse Damascene conversion - once one had sight and now they are blind.

Of the many tragedies Kenya has suffered in the period after 2008's peace deal between the 2007 presidential belligerents, none is as heartbreaking as the failure to do justice to those who were murdered, maimed, dispossessed or displaced after the 2007 general election. The heartbreak is made more painful by the number of men and women who have abandoned the pursuit of justice, even refusing to pay lip service to the corse of justice. They are, almost to a person engaged, in the wild pursuit of a place at the high table when the change of guard takes place in August next year. The individual men and women who promised justice and who, for a time at least, pursued justice and who have now turned their coats and joined together with the men they investigated with such vigour before is almost too painful to witness. But we must bear witness and tell our story if only to warn our future selves of the fickleness of human political principles.

Though no one was convicted of crimes connected to the 2007/200 violence, no one was truly acquitted either. Many events conspired to defeat the ends of justice. Truth did not triumph. That fig leaf is unavailable to that man. There are many things that he can rationalise about his behaviour but not how he has seemingly abandoned the principles that guided him when he was a Commissioner and a senator. If it is political redemption and relevance that he seeks after five years in the electoral cold, he deserves neither. He deserves to lose and lose roundly. The voters must send him a clear message: he is no longer welcome in the corridors of power.

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