Sunday, April 17, 2022

May Toto win bigly

Bomet County made me so happy. Regardless of the final outcome on 9th August, the members of the United Democratic Alliance of Bomet County nominate Linet "Toto" Chepkorir, a precocious, confident and talented twenty-four year old, to stand in the election for woman representative at the forthcoming general election. That made be happy. She is proof positive that when given an inch, the youth will not wait to be invited tot he table; they will take the inch, go the mile and seize the opportunity. I just hope she doesn't behave like the moron from Meru who got sidelined by a flashy new SUV.

I hope she wins. I hope she prevails over old and experienced political hands. I don't care that she knows little about "national politics". That shit doesn't matter. She is intelligent. She will learn the ropes fast enough. After all, it is by being underestimated and dismissed by the more experienced hands that she has demonstrated her political mettle. Why shouldn't we think that she will manage the poisoned waters of Nairobi?

I left the label of "youth" a while ago; I am not in the same league as Ms Chekorir. She is miles ahead of me in offering leadership to a nation starved of it. By all accounts, she has been a leader for as long as she has had the opportunity. Kenya needs more young people like her to step up, and push out the old guard. My prayer is that she makes it to the National Assembly. My prayer is that she carries forward the torch that was left to die down by the co-option of the firebrands of the Second Liberation. My prayer is that she kicks butt.

It is not a race thing

"a race thing"

I don't know what to is about the troubles that we face that automatically leads us to assume that "Black people lack something". One of my seniors at the Bar is afflicted by this syndrome. Some of the more libertarian-minded among us think that Black Africans are incapable of appreciating the liberty that caucasians seem to take for granted. In any case, these Black people express an inferiority complex that is both baffling and complex.

I have had the privilege of visiting the United States and Australia; I stayed for three months in Accra and have made several forays to Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kigali. My visits to Washington DC and Sydney invited the casual racism that seems to pervade those world capitals, while my stay in Dar es Salaam and Accra was like a coming home event. I was among my people. I was among friends. That is not the same in some bits of my country; I can count the number of times my visits to Malindi or Mombasa have not been accompanied by casual racist bullying even by fellow Black Kenyans.

But at no point has it ever occurred to me that Black Kenyans were in any way inferior to the apparently "developed" Europeans and North Americans. Our economies and politics appear to be shambolic, but can you imagine trying to access basic health services in a US hospital? Your Blackness, successful or not, will not insulate you from the scorn of the British upturned nose. Witness the degrading language used to describe Rishi Sunak, the British chancellor of the exchequer.

Kenya, and many African countries, face many structural challenges. But these challenges are not as a result of the fact that we suffer congenital racial defects. That is not a question that should occur to us. We can point to the corruption that is supercharged by the presence of corrupt Europeans and North American government officials and multinational CEOs. Or the flawed economic and financial policies that underpin the global economic and financial order overseen by the twin succubi of the World Bank and IMF.

I promise you, brethren, that being Black is not a defect. It is many things, but it is not a defect. Don't fall for the trick of associating Black with evil, with bad, with wrong-ness. I can't articulate why I know Black is not wrong; I feel it in my bones and in the depths of my soul. I am not racially inferior to anyone. My people are not racially inferior.

IT. IS. NOT. A. RACE. THING.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Pray for me, Argentina

We prize seniority in my profession but I think that things have changed so much that seniority is almost meaningless. One of my seniors - he was called to the Bar more than a decade before I was - loves his senior status so much that he thinks that it confers on him great technical skill. If it were skills as a litigator, I would concede without a fuss that he stands heads and shoulders above many seasoned practitioners of those dark arts. If it were skills as an arranger of complex mergers or acquisitions, there are few who can hold a candle to him. However, when it comes to the drudgery of legislative drafting - the ouija-board-reading of legislative intent and the parsing of constitutional and legal language - the poor man is a minnow in a pool of piranha.

I mention all this to show the pernicious impact that seniority-above-all-else has on effective work. Many "seniors" are blinded to the malodorousness of their decision-making; the infallibility they believe seniority has conferred on them leads them to make professional and personal choices that often prove calamitous.

At work, I have been grappling with this dilemma. I am presented, more frequently these days, with legislative drafting work of such mind-numbing, cretinous dullardness that I must believe that I am being punk'd. There is no way senior members of the Bar would append their names to what appears to be the product of a political backwater like the dark smoke-filled backrooms of Kenya's political parties. The kind of schlock that is presented for "perusal, concurrence and approval" presents such grave risks to the Republic that I fear I may say something so impertinent and presumptuous I may yet destroy the government of the day.

It all boils down to the Seniority Syndrome and the fear of underlings to point out, quite rightly in my view, the utter nakedness of our seniors. What the seniors can't or don't care to see is how time-consuming it is to wind back their outrageous legislative suggestions and the rancour it engenders between teams - TEAMS! - of opposing underlings. Quite frankly, it is mentally draining and psychologically damaging for the less sanguine among us.

I had naively believed that the "retirement" of the more publicly reckless members of my poisonous profession would have calmed the waters. I was so very wrong. They left behind minor turd mountains in their wake that are now being trudged through the corridors of the State looking for professionals' desks to despoil. It is an election years and every bad legislative idea is being revived in the hopes that the distracted members of the National Assembly and Senate won't notice. Civil society has been so undermined by the refusal by its Robert Mugabes to retire that it is doubtful that there's a modern-day Mwalimu Mati to poke giant holes in those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas.

So I sit and stare at these pages, praying for the ground to open up and swallow the authors of my distress, but realising, with despair, that those whom the Gods wish to punish, they first introduce to members of the Senior Council Bar. This is my personal hell. Pray for me, Argentina.

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...