Thursday, December 16, 2010

Six Against the Wall


Chapter 6
They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldiers it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.
                                    Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time

“The Hague 6” accused of inciting the Kenyan post election violence 2007-008 have been named by the International Criminal Court main prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo. It should be a list of shame. All those named should be indignant, if they are innocent, of having brought the East African economic giant, close to the madness that has engulfed Rwanda, not once, but several times in that country’s tragic history. 

For some of the named on that list, like Uhuru Kenyatta, the shame should be fiercer. Not just because he is Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister, because of his pedigree. He is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, and though that man’s name has been tarnished of late, it still has some shine as one of the Kenyans who really struggled, endured prison spells, and torture, to ensure Kenyans would get their independence. Yes, Kenyatta maybe accused of perhaps having had a hand in the murder of some opponents and challengers, perhaps he had ambitions of ruling Kenya forever, but still, he did Kenya some good too. Is this all his son Uhuru can contribute to Kenya, try to undo it? 

Once, to me, it looked like when the fervent support Mwai Kibaki and then ODM’s Raila Odinga had enjoyed, on the crest of helping to kick out the ‘Professor of Politics’ Daniel Arap Moi faded, Uhuru might have a chance at a ‘real’ political career, add his own stamp to Kenya. This, surely, is not quite the stamp his father and heritage expected-as a killer without purpose. 

The others in the line-up, well, some it sounds like guys who have decided to take the bullet for their bosses. At least all the Kenyan opinions I have encountered indicate they believe they are being sacrificed because their masters are too much of big fish. Francis Muthaura and Major General Rtd Mohammed Hussein Ali are reputed to be buddies of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. In fact it is alleged that on the infamous night when Kibaki had himself sworn in after the disputed election results many observers think he out rightly rigged, Ali was said to be responsible for making sure that “People sit on time,” before Kibaki could be sworn in during that hasty midnight ceremony whose legitimacy Uganda has the dishonour of being the only country to recognise. 

Henry Kosgey and William Ruto, are not only close associates of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (the man said to have won those disputed 2007 December elections), but they are quite high up in the ODM (Orange Democratic Movement) that Odinga leads. Ruto is one of the two deputy party leaders of ODM while Kosgey is the chairman of ODM. Which makes you shake your head in sad wonder what kind of company Odinga, once the hope of Kenya (and reputedly a fiery eloquent speaker), has been keeping. Before the shame of this naming, Ruto of course had been suspended from his position as Minister for Higher Education over corruption allegations, and somehow not a pip from the ODM on this disgrace. 

A friend I sometimes debate Kenyan and East African politics with opined that Odinga took that power sharing deal with Kibaki in 2008, not because he had been pressured by other African leaders and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan. He agreed to share power with Kibaki only because of a deep seated fear that he might end up like his father, the late Oginga Odinga, who was always on the verge of seizing power in Kenya but never quite did. To the extent that, allegedly, Odinga senior once pleaded with former President Moi that Moi let him be President for a day, simply to ‘know’ how it felt like to be a President. 

Odinga junior may have had swathes of supporters in 2007, and a lot of goodwill, but I suspect, he did not believe that support could be maintained, as he wandered, once again, in the wilderness of opposition politics another five years.  He was terrified of reliving his father’s life of high ambitions and modest achievements; it was easy to go down the deal path then.

Like in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, there’s a journalist in the mess-Joshua Arap Sang. 

But the commonest shared comment with all the people interested in Kenyan politics this blogger has heard is that, “The biggest culprits are not on here.” President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. It seems to be a firmly held belief that Kibaki and Odinga were part of the group that unleashed the terrifying carnage that gripped parts of Kenya, that saw Uganda catch the cold as Kenya sneezed. 

So it is these six against the wall, though certainly it should be many more. 

Questions are swirling in this mind as the news settles in. Will they really go to trial? Is this the end of their political careers or Kenya will simply withdraw from recognising the jurisdiction of the ICC? Are there more names, in sealed arrest warrants, lying in wait for those who were publicly named on Tuesday, December 15, 2010? There is an unstated fear that Uganda is inching towards the violence Kenya experienced end of 2007, beginning of 2008; will this listing, a show that the ‘world cares’ deter Ugandan leaders from inciting their followers? A white man’s court trying Africans, is this what the ICC really is? 

So many questions, so many thoughts!

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