Michael Mundia Kamau's Website

                 BETRAYAL IN THE CITY - 8th June 2004

                                                                                                          Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                          P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                          00200 City Square
                                                                                                          Nairobi
                                                                                                          Kenya

                                                                                                          8th June 2004

                                                   BETRAYAL IN THE CITY

The rising death toll from the consumption of contaminated maize meal in Kenya’s Eastern province is a tragic result of ineffective governance from not just the ruling NARC coalition, but from Kenyan leadership in it’s entirety. It is no longer a matter of NARC, KANU, FORD-People, Safina or otherwise, but a matter of the entire Kenyan leadership having lost legitimacy. There can be no claim of effective leadership in Kenya when it’s citizens are dying, as it’s leaders continue to feud over matters of distant relevance to the people that elected them to office. A section of NARC and opposition members of parliament rebelliously shot down the government sponsored Forest Bill to protest highhandedness on the part of the government. It could have as well been a bill strictly regulating safety levels of food consumed in Kenya that was shot down, or a bill introducing sweeping and beneficial labour law reforms. The government on it’s part has contemptuously failed to address growing dissent in it’s ranks, at the threat of it’s very own survival.

It is ironic that the deaths of eighty people have not elicited the same response from the public and church, as those of the murdered foetuses recently discovered and recently buried in Nairobi. There have been no moving memorials, no floral tributes or no outpouring of emotion. It appears that this is only of value in the proximity of television and newspaper cameras. The hypocrisy and callousness of an entire nation has been laid bare in the aftermath of eighty senseless deaths.

The ravaged and impoverished Eastern province of Kenya is typical of the neglect that rural Kenya has been subjected to for years. Abandoned by folk and accorded only token periodic visits from the same, rural Kenya has failed to thrive and continues to crumble. Kenyans still rabidly insist that we all come from one rural area or another, as development continues to be centred in urban areas. Even in the exalted urban centres of Kenya, disproportionate population growth has resulted in the emergence of slums and modifications known as “bedsitters” or “extensions”. These structures have even started emerging in formerly exclusive neighbourhoods such as Nairobi’s Karen suburb, which now hosts an array of typical such structures in the section between St. Francis church and Karen shopping centre. There have also been complaints in the press from residents of Nairobi’s exclusive Lavington suburb about clubs playing loud music. This is an ominous  prelude to the emergence of “extensions” and typical contemporary Kenyan commerce that includes the sale of scratch cards, photocoping services, clothing, and an array of Kenyan meals such as “chips”, “matumbo”, “mandazi vuruta”, “chapati chafua” and “chai moto”.

Opportunities are limited even though skilled labour is abundantly available. This situation will worsen until this country refocuses it’s energies on reviving rural Kenya. Instead of using parliament to frustrate useful bills, parliamentarians can salvage the plight of this country by supporting legislation that promotes rural development. Kenyan urban centres are overcrowded and permeate with the foul smell of urine and human faeces because of lacking sanitation.

Power struggles in Kenya are intensifying and taking on a dangerous dimension. We all stand accused of this and other serious forms of neglect in the country. Emphasis cannot continue being placed on the constitutional review process when the people the constitution is supposed to protect, are dying from neglect. Emphasis cannot continue being placed on the so called Memorandum of Understanding involving the NARC constituent parties, when it is clear that Kenyan leaders have no understanding of the peoples’ plight. Several leaders and voters are yearning for the general elections slated for the year 2007, to enable the entry of alternative leadership. This is however a defeatist and fatalistic approach as it is doubtful that this country will even survive the journey to 2007 in the first place, in it’s current state. Rather than focusing on elections, this country should be devoting it’s energies to addressing the numerous problems that still afflict us. We still continue to emptily boast about how we taught Moi and KANU a lesson, yet we were unable to apply that same ferocity in preventing eighty unnecessary deaths. Problems are solved by people, not by elections.



Michael Mundia Kamau

            NATIONAL BANK OF KENYA - 5th June 2004

                                                                                                          Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                          P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                          00200 City Square
                                                                                                          Nairobi
                                                                                                          Kenya

                                                                                                          5th June 2004

                                         NATIONAL BANK OF KENYA

The protest march-out by shareholders of the National Bank of Kenya Limited during the corporation’s Annual General Meeting of 4th June 2004, is a pointer of severely eroded public confidence in the manner in which the bank is being run. The public has indeed been receiving confusing signals about the true state of the National Bank of Kenya and it is time that definite and binding resolutions were adopted regarding the bank and it’s future.

On the one hand, the public have noted a steady recovery at National Bank of Kenya over the past two years in terms of rising profitability. Rising confidence has been reinforced by the bank’s Balance sheet which reflects total assets of KShs. 25 billion and total liabilities of KShs. 23 billion. However, damning press leaks of a classified study done on the National Bank of Kenya by the World Bank, reveal that all indications of recovery and profitability are illusionary, and that the bank is deeply insolvent to the tune of KShs. 24 billion (US $ 300,000,000). The World Bank report further recommends the speedy implementation and conclusion of restructuring at NBK, with a view to speedy privatisation . Despite the appearance of these allegations in the press about four or five times over the past one year, there have been no formal statements from either the National Bank board or the government, lending credence to them or denying them. In the absence of a formal reaction, the public has settled for the findings contained in the damning World Bank report, as being the current and future status of the bank.

Two perennially outstanding items on the bank’s Balance sheet also draw considerable interest, and are what caused anger and eventual shareholder boycott of the 35th Annual General Meeting of 4th June 2004. The two are the bank’s overdraft with the Central Bank of Kenya which currently stands at KShs. 5.5 billion, and a loan owed by the government to NBK of KShs. 12 billion. The management of NBK  has created the impression that the future prospects of the bank are hinged to the settlement of both sums of money. On the one hand, NBK claims that it is working steadily and consistently at clearing the overdraft of KShs. 5.5 billion. The government on the other hand, has continued to make empty pledges of clearing the amount it owes NBK of KShs. 12 billion, a pledge that was once again repeated at the just concluded 35th Annual General Meeting. No specific timetables have however been set. What is further baffling is why both amounts cannot be settled through transfers in the relevant government books of accounts, which would leave NBK with a healthy credit of KShs. 6.5 billion. Does it require parliamentary or executive approval, and why isn’t this being explained to the public ? If it does require parliamentary approval, will the motion introducing it suffer the misfortune of being shot down by dissenting parliamentarians weary of the shaky ruling NARC coalition ?

Something crucial about NBK is being hidden from the public and responsibility for this must be borne by both the Kenya government and the NBK Board of Directors. Prior to the 35th Annual General Meeting, the NBK Managing Director, Reuben Marambii, denied rumuors of the intended sale of NBK at the throwaway price of KShs. 500,000,000. In his own assessment, Mr. Marambii said that the going price of NBK in it’s current state, ranged between KShs. 3 and 4 billion. This appears to be the reason behind heightened speculative trading of NBK shares at the Nairobi Stock Exchange, which have continued to hold steady despite the damning World Bank report. Heavy volumes of shares by Kenyan standards, continue to be traded with regard to NBK. NBK shares toped trades in the financial segment in the trading week ended 4th June 2004, with 320,000 NBK shares changing hands. In one deal alone in the year 2003, one million NBK shares changed hands. Strategic and speculative investors appear to be positioning themselves for a kill. Further, the fate of NBK is expected to prominently feature in the June 2004 state budget.

The boycott of the 35th Annual General Meeting by weary small scale investors over non-payment of dividends, is justified to the extent of double standards that currently prevail in the country as a whole. Parliamentarians find no difficulty whatsoever in passing bills and motions that hinge on the increment of their emoluments, yet they decry all manner of technicalities and bureaucratic red tape when it comes to addressing plights like NBK and the deplorable state of our roads. Supplementary budget estimates were passed by the Minister of Finance in 2003 to cater for the salary increment of parliamentarians, and NBK shareholders are certainly asking why similar action could not have been taken regarding the fate of the bank. Related to this is the delay in the passage of the key Economics Crime Bill, which would speedily enable recovery of funds and assets from numerous massive defaulters of NBK loans. Further, an NBK blanket moratorium has not been declared on increased expenditure and payments, except the payment of dividends. The remuneration of directors and the company auditors, continue to be reviewed upwardly. A scandal involving irregular and inflated purchase of computer software was unearthed at NBK, which led to the dismissal of the Finance Director and other high ranking managers. In light of this therefore, it was hoped that the NBK board would invoke an extraordinary clause in the company Memorandum and Articles of Association, and pay some benefit to long suffering and long patient shareholders.

The general state of corporate governance in Kenya is unimpressive and calls for an infusion of freshness. The prospect of weath creation appears bleak in the short and long term, despite the appointment of reputedly high profile private sector individuals to head state corporations. Insistence on a Victorian approach is still the practice, in a country that has evolved it’s own form of Pidgin English and converses freely and happily in a mixture of Kiswahili, English and regional dialects, and in a country that has adopted the use of table spoons and forks at meal times, instead of the traditional knife and fork. For Corporate Kenya to grow and thrive, recognition of several nations within one nation, must be made. Kenyans do not part easily with money, and the prospect of this is made less easier by attempting to use a Queen’s English approach. From all apparent indicators available, Kenya will evolve like the United States of America, and similarly mould as a nation and melting pot of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Corporate Kenya is reflecting next to no cognisance of this fact. Corporate Kenya is making no apparent effort to build and grow a customer base from this evolving situation. As a further sign of declining promise in the Kenyan economy, several Multi National Corporations have in recent years rapidly switched the headquarters of their sub-Saharan operations from Kenya to South Africa. In extreme cases, factories have been shut down and sold, leaving Kenya as a retail outlet. The high profile Africa visits of Presidents Clinton and Bush, and that of former first lady Hillary Clinton, gave Kenya a wide berth. Hillary Clinton’s East African visit was particularly comical in it’s evasion of Kenya, starting in neighbouring Tanzania, bypassing Kenyan airspace to get to neighbouring Ethiopia, and culminating in neigbouring Uganda. Business prospects were certainly lost out in these high profile U.S. trips.

Legendary American entrepreneur Lee Iacocca, took over troubled and deeply indebted American auto-maker Chrysler, and brought it back to healthy productivity in 1983, eight years ahead of scheduled recovery plan. Chrysler was meant to have been back on it’s feet in 1991, but Iacocca made this possible ahead of time in 1983 by a blend of ingenuity and sound management principles that included a blanket moratorium on increased expenditure including his own. Iacocca’s accomplishment impressed America so much, that he was asked to offer himself as the Democratic candidate for the 1988 U.S. presidential election, an offer he declined. It was justifiably believed that Iacocca could do for America what he had done for the Chrysler corporation. Corporate Kenya eagerly yearns for the wizardry of a Lee Iacocca.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                      SUDDEN DEATH - 3rd June 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            3rd June 2004

                                                   SUDDEN DEATH

The uncompromising stand taken by Kenya’s Sports Minister, Najib Balala, which has resulted in Kenya’s suspension from international soccer events by world soccer governing body FIFA, ranks as one of the most reckless and irresponsible actions taken by the NARC government so far. Whatever point it is that Minister Najib Balala is so determined to make, it should not disrupt the future prospects and careers of Kenyan soccer players and officials. If only to ensure continuity in a trying period of transition, Najib Balala, should have struck a compromise between FIFA, the Kenya Football Federation (KFF), and himself. Himself, because Najib Balala’s actions are not in the interests of the Republic of Kenya, and signifies the fatality of President Mwai Kibaki’s experiment with delegation of powers. Minister Najib Balala must publicly present minutes of the cabinet meeting where he explained his position and that of the Ministry of Sports on the matter, and the position adopted by the Kenyan cabinet. Najib Balala must publicly present minutes of meetings he held with the Kenya National Sports Council (KNSC), and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), where he explained his position and that of the Ministry of Sports, and the positions that were adopted in those meetings. Other than disrupting the promising careers of players, Najib Balala has also dealt a severe blow to the careers of officials, high amongst them National soccer coach, Jacob “Ghost” Mulei.

The general state of other sporting disciplines in Kenya is no different from that of soccer. There  is perennial conflict and infighting in Athletics Kenya (AK), the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA), the Kenya Cricket Association (KCA), the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU), the Kenya Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA), the Amateur Swimming Association of Kenya (ASAK), the Kenya Volleyball Association (KVA), and the Kenya Body Building Federation (KBBF). This has had a terrible effect on Kenya’s performance and especially so in athletics, where Ethiopia has reasserted supremacy after years of isolation. It is therefore difficult to understand why Minister Balala singled out the Kenya Football Federation (KFF), with such a passion. It is difficult to imagine that Minister Balala would have adopted a similar stance if there was a similar duel between Athletics Kenya (AK), and the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF), or the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This is what must have infuriated FIFA and prompted it’s decision to take such extreme action. In particular, FIFA President Sepp Blatter must have deeply resented Balala’s amateur attempts to bully both KFF and FIFA.

The FIFA president owes his position in no small part to the embattled KFF chairman Maina Kariuki, who ensured that Kenya voted for him when veteran FIFA president Joao Havelenge retired from office. Sepp Blatter came personally to Kenya to campaign at the time, which shows the seriousness with which he handled his campaign. There is also a definite link between this and FIFA’s decision to suspend Kenya from international soccer.

Najib Balala tolerates no dissent whatsoever and this is bad for politics and governance. Najib Balala is on record as having attempted to sack an official of the sports ministry for not providing a vehicle for his transport, even though he was not empowered to do so, and even though this went against civil service guidelines. The same Balala threatened the NAK arm of the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) with lynching if it dared carry out a membership recruitment drive in his Mvita constituency. It is therefore easy to see the attitude with which Najib Balala approached the misunderstanding between himself, KFF and FIFA. Najib Balala attempted to bulldoze his decision on the KFF and FIFA, but FIFA has carried the day by passing a heavily detrimental sentence against Kenya. Najib Balala has no case and no recourse.

It has been gratifying to see strides in African soccer in recent years. Cameroon lifted the spirit of Africa at the 1990 soccer world cup, with a sterling performance that saw them through to the quarter finals. It was joked that Cameroon should have taken the next flight home as cup winners, after Andre Nkana Biyik’s header secured victory against defending champions Argentina, in the opening game. In the 1996 Nigeria won the Olympic soccer title after beating Argentina in a breathtaking and exciting final. Four years later in Sydney, Cameroon retained the title for Africa. At the 2002 soccer world cup Senegal equaled the feat of 1990’s Cameroon in a similarly spectacular manner. The 2002 soccer world cup in a wider sense, signified the long awaited maturity of African soccer. Nigeria was heavily criticised for it’s loss to Argentina on 2nd June 2002, but it was a victory for Africa for those who have been following sub-Saharan African soccer from it’s infancy. It was moving and extremely inspiring to see fellow blacks, fellow Africans, playing toe to toe with a renowned soccer powerhouse like Argentina. Despite losing, the Nigerians were very confident in their approach and gave an extremely good account of themselves. This was unimaginable in 1974 or 1978. This is the kind of stuff that will inspire overall strides on the entire continent in all fields of life including medicine, technolgy and economics. Improved performances have been enabled by the exposure of several African players in the leading soccer leagues of the world, and not even the topmost leagues at that. Cyrille Makanaky, a member of the triumphant Cameroon world cup soccer side of 1990, played his soccer for a third division French side. Just before the start of the game between Ireland and Cameroon on 1st June 2002 at world cup soccer 2002, one noted the bear hugs and camaraderie between players from both sides. They play in the same European leagues and know each other well. The same was noted just before the start of the game between Argentina and Nigeria on 2nd June 2002 at world cup soccer 2002.

Najib Balala has denied Kenya this opportunity, and dealt a severe blow to Kenyan soccer. Press reports indicate that star Kenyan soccer striker Dennis Oliech based in the Middle East, has turned down offers of as much as US $ 2,500,000 , to change citizenship, which Minister Najib Balala is not making worthwhile.     

The Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD), held a mammoth rally in Mombasa soon after registration in 1992, and soon after a similar rally at Nairobi’s Kamukunji grounds. Najib Balala’s Mvita predecessor, KANU’s Shariff Nassir, claimed at the time to have seen not more than 500 people at the rally. FORD’s Ahmed Bamarhriz, who has a sound reputation for stinging wit, retorted by saying that Nassir only saw 500 people, because his limited abilities allowed him to only count to 500. Minister Najib Balala should not allow similar scorn to befall him.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                 “UKITAKA CHUKUA” - 2nd June 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            2nd June 2004

                                             “UKITAKA CHUKUA”

One of the highlights of celebrations to mark the 41st anniversary of Kenya’s Madaraka day was the humuorous drama presentation on HIV-AIDS, which partly portrayed the cause of the scourge as women dressed in tight clothing bestriding their surroundings with posteriors that suggestively moved to the tune of “Ukitaka Chukua”( Take it if you want it). The brief presentation is food for thought for a nation that is feigning shock at the discovery of butchered foetuses and an equally hypocritical clergy that is crying foul long after “ukitaka chukua” has long entrenched itself in the church.

It is no secret that the church in Kenya has lost all ground as guardians of morality and spirituality. Immodest and revealing clothing by women is the standard of dress at Sunday worship, fellowship, evening prayers and the infamous all night worship sessions known as “kesha”. Many of the butchered foetuses were conceived at these all night vigils and at counseling sessions with priests. The church in Kenya has failed miserably in it’s role as the conscience of  society. “The Passion of Christ”, a brilliant work of cinematography by Mel Gibson, must rank as the most attended and highest grossing film ever shown in Kenya. It however remains to be seen whether the church or Christians in Kenya will draw from the richness of the production. The anguish of Christ in the opening scenes of the film and the flogging of Jesus just before the crucifixion, can be said to be  defining moments that have little semblance and little inspiration in Kenya today. The macabre situation of the church in Kenya is not being aided by battles for supremacy such as as the melodramatic drawn out episode that featured at Nairobi’s Buru Buru Church of God.

The entire religious faith in Kenya is required to address severe problems in the church and restore direction in society. Humility and modesty have taken a back seat in Kenya. It is unfortunate to see fully grown men and women being choosy of Public Service Vehicles in a country emerging from a transport crisis that saw men, women and children desperately latch onto any and all means of transport for an agonising period of two months. It is this misplaced pride that is blurring proper vision in Kenya, a country blessed with an ideal climate and abundant resources. Many Kenyans would suffer irreparable depression if exposed only minutely to the perennial unrest that has plagued the Middle East for centuries, and we urgently need to grow up.

Much as we justifiably continue to criticise the leadership of President Kibaki and his government, we must also take stock of our own actions. As we continue to wallow in empty pride such as being selective of the Public Service Vehicles we ride in, life prospers for a select few who have mastered the art of survival and living to see another day. As we continue to bicker for all or nothing, a select few are entrenching their relevance in NARC’s Kenya and beyond. An example is that of Transport Minister John Michuki, whose illustrious career has spanned four different regimes, the colonial regime, Kenyatta’s regime, Moi’s regime and Kibaki’s regime. John Njoroge Michuki, despite his apparent disdain for the Nyayo era, is more likely to sit down for a cup of tea and afternoon chat with former President Daniel arap Moi, than with the majority of those who elected NARC to power. Regrettably, there are still several individuals of Michuki’s generation who are still hopelessly demanding for Kenyatta’s reward, the same way that several are still pestering for NARC’s. Another example is that of Eliud Mahihu, who found glory in the colonial administration, Kenyatta’s administration and Moi’s administration. When Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was putting together his government, he needed men and women with experience and exposure, who would ensure much needed continuity. Eliud Mahihu, an experienced colonial administrator, fitted this role. When Daniel arap Moi was managing the transition from Kenyatta’s rule to his own, he needed men and women with experience and exposure. Eliud Mahihu, who skillfully steered the initial phases of the Kenyatta succession, fitted this role. Eliud Mahihu’s formal schooling did not go beyond primary level standard eight, but his pivotal role in the history of this country stands out.

This is the basis of President Kibaki’s 2004 Madaraka day speech, that was heavily laden with parables and veiled cautions. President Kibaki pointed out that his government would perform the role of facilitator and no more. President Kibaki also pointed out that hard work would carry the day. In effect, President Kibaki was saying that reward would eventually revert to those who were taking the initiative to make a meaningful livelihood out of the resources and opportunities currently available in Kenya.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                   Dear President Kibaki - 30th May 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            30th May 2004

H.E. Mwai Kibaki, C.G.H., MP
President of the Republic of Kenya and
Commander in Chief of it’s Armed Forces
P.O. Box 40530
Nairobi
Kenya

Dear Sir

This letter is written on the eve of Kenya’s 41st Madaraka Day celebrations in the hope that you shall take the opportunity to restore calm, confidence and self-belief in the Republic, by giving a firm assurance that you and your government are aware of the concerns and strains facing the people of Kenya, and are addressing them. There is very little so far to suggest that this is so.

The 41st Madaraka Day is being marked in the face of growing public dissent and disaffection not just with you and your government, but with our surroundings in entirety. Kenyans have lost confidence in themselves, their institutions and their culture. Very few Kenyans are aware of the significance of Madaraka Day, and even give higher esteem and significance to the much less meaningful St. Valentines Day. Unfortunately, your government has not played an active part in reversing this worrying situation. Celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary Jamhuri Day celebrations were marred by a decree to mark forced festivities over a forced period of time at a forced public fee of KShs. 100,000,000 (US $ 1,250,000). You unfortunately took absolutely no action whatsoever against this decision. You further showed no sensitivity whatsoever by failing to address the nation in Kiswahili on 12th December 2003, for the benefit of numerous men and women of your generation who were not privileged to get formal schooling.

Your government ascended to power on a sound platform and promise of reform. Electioneering haste deterred the formulation of a party manifesto for the hastily constituted National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). The equally hasty public was therefore left to rely on verbal promises of the creation 500,000 per year, the enactment of a new constitution 100 days after NARC’s ascension to power and general economic growth. These promises have not been fulfilled and neither you or your government has made any effort to publicly explain why.

The fortunes of the Executive and Legislature have however drastically improved with hefty salary increments and an annual constituency fund allocation of US $ 250,000 per consituency, including yours. The fact that the Legislature hastily arrogated itself the powers to chair, audit and determine expenditure of the constituency funds, effectively renders them personal funds. This depressing state of affairs has been compounded by reports of high level corruption in the Executive arm of your government, which you have made no effort to remedy.

Sir, you and your government are sending confusing signals, and it is difficult to determine a clear course of action. In 2003, your government decreed that a declaration of wealth return be made by all public officers. The results of the return have however been kept secret, denying the public a chance to scrutinise the returns and raise objections if and where necessary. Your government is in the process of enforcing strict complaince of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) by the eligible public, as a means of administering individuals and their dealings. In the same token therefore, the declaration of wealth returns ought to be made public.

Sir, you also took the bold step of purging the Judiciary of judges and magistrates linked to impropriety in the year 2003. You are however not exhibiting the same purge enthusiasm with the Executive and Legislature. Your government has actively demolished both informal and formal structures as tales abound of the construction of palatial residences by your ministers, with the aid of state resources. It is also unfortunate that you have also chosen to publicly comment on certain matters while pleading delegation of powers on others. In September 2003 you declared that you were the elected President of Kenya and bid good tidings to any and all future contenders for the presidency. You went on to state that it was not possible to have two centres of power. This declaration should have been left to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

In December 2003 while vacationing at the coast, you declared that all affiliate parties of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), ceased to exist immediately NARC ascended to power. This declaration should have been left to the Attorney General. In January 2004, you salvaged national pride by an executive order to the treasury to provide funding of KShs. 15,000,000 , for national soccer team Harambee Stars’ participation at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations. This decision should have been left to the Ministers of Sport and Finance.

In principle Sir, you cannot conveniently alter your style of governance depending on the circumstances. Matters of governance are too demanding, too monumental, delicate, intricate and complex to allow for such indiscretions. The people of Kenya will be forgiven for concluding that you have chosen the convenient middle path and are evading your responsibilities as the President of Kenya. We are yearning for action from you and your government. Your government brokered a generous aid package of US $ 4.875 billion from bilateral and multilateral donors in November 2003 which appears to have stalled because of unexplained reasons. The US government is yet to lift a travel ban advisory on Kenya for unexplained reasons. Kenyans continue to suffer injustices at the hands of a corrupt regime, yet you and your government are doing little to identify with this suffering and remedy it.

Sir, it is time that you begin speaking actively, widely and consistently on the numerous problems afflicting this country. There is no other way that you can hope to effectively communicate with the Republic. There is no other way Sir, that you can hope to be effectively understood. Communicate the plan of you and your government and how you hope to accomplish it. Communicate it in whatever language that you choose Sir, but ensure it is understood. You continue to emphasise that reward will revert to hard workers, which is yet to become apparent.

Addressing a pre-independence rally in English our founding father Mzee Kenyatta, who you had the opprtunity to interact with on numerous occasions, lamented to the gathering as follows :  “It is not my wish to be speaking to you in a foreign, and for that matter, colonialistic language !” In the same token, it is regrettable and shameful that I am writing this letter to you in English and not Kiswahili. The universal language of joy, laughter, happiness, hope, bitterness, disappointment, despair and hunger is however understood by all. In particular, the people of Kenya in their current situation, clearly understand the latter four.

I remain Sir,

Yours faithfully


Michael Mundia Kamau,
Republic of Kenya National ID No. 10089064

                     ZERO GOVERNANCE - 29th May 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             29th May 2004

                                                ZERO GOVERNANCE

The announcement of the appointment of a Kenyan zero-tolerance anti-corruption commission by President Mwai Kibaki is another bizarre effort to buy time by the NARC government, now living on borrowed time. The announcement of the commissions’ appointment is being made when revelations are emerging on the luxurious expenditure by the unproductive Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC), which in proportional terms, exceeds the budgets of the much more productive Kenyan corporate sector. The ongoing Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry into gross financial misconduct, was also the subject of a 2003 circular from the Head of Civil Service, asking for a reduction in expenditure and costs. Other than being the subject of media frenzy and drama, the wide array of expensively constituted commissions are yet to justify their existence and bear fruit.

It is apparent that there no real desire for true change in Kenya. The actions by the present government are geared towards protecting certain minority interests. Rebellious behaviour is currently rife in Kenya, a reaction to this intransigent and insensitive behaviour from the administration. A brand new fleet of luxury vehicles for cabinet ministers was ordered by the NARC government soon after it’s ascension to power, despite an already existing and relatively new fleet. The fate of the old fleet, it’s disposal or otherwise, is yet to be made public. A newly constituted NARC dominated parliament, also moved quickly to secure generous packages for parliamentarians which includes a US $ 41,250 grant per member of parliament, for the purchase of a motor vehicle of choice. These are undertakings funded by Kenyan tax payers, the Kenyan tax payer who on 1st May 2004, received a paltry 11% wage increment on already severely strained incomes.

The Planning Minister announced that the Kenyan economy grew by 1.3 % in the year 2003, which effectively means that fewer opportunities were created for the majority that support the minority. The ruling elite in Kenya have the privilege of legislating financial gain in their favour, which leaves the majority in a desperate state of abandonment. This is the reason behind the current widespread industrial unrest across Kenya. Thinning patience is being fuelled by continued opulence and excesses on the part of the NARC government, to the point that the Secretary General of Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU), has made a reckless, illegal call for factories to be razed down by retrenched workers.

2003 was wasted by homecoming parties, accusations of corruption in government, constitutional review infighting, insistent harping about the implementation of free primary education and clashes over a private treaty known to the Kenyan public as Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This cost Kenya the chance to surge forward and quadruple the modest 2003 1.3 % economic growth. These are the issues that should be dominating public attention in Kenya and not the appointment of unnecessary and costly commissions of inquiry.

It is clear that Kenya is in need of fresh leaders, fresh direction, fresh values and a fresh way of thinking. The performance of the NARC government so far, proves this. There is no fresh infusion, other than a perpetration of old and detested values. In the week of 23rd May 2004, the public registered shock and dismay at the discovery of butchered foetuses in a country rife with nudity, fornication, adultery and churchgoers. The irony is that leading figures in the current NARC administration have contributed to this situation through alleged links with Nairobi’s red light Koinange street, yet no action has been taken.

This is precisely the point. The NARC administration has not taken action on leading figures in government that have been implicated in massive corruption, save for low key bureaucrats. This situation will not be remedied by commissions of inquiry. We can no longer pretend that this country is not faced with serious problems. We can no longer pretend that this country is not in the midst of a serious crisis. The time for fresh leaders and majority rule in Kenya is ripe, rule that addresses the needs of the vast majority of our people. Elite Kenya is shamelessly living off the sweat of the vast majority of impoverished Kenyans, and this is wrong by any standard of measurement. As is put by Waweru Mburu of Radio Citizen, there are only two tribes in Kenya, the rich and the poor.

The interests of poor Kenyans are not under threat, because they do not exist. Great contemporary leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Everlyn Baring, Nelson Mandela, Fredrick de Klerk, Mao Tse Tung and Fidel Castro, emerged from pressing needs brought about by the times they lived in. Kenya’s Nation Media Group’s “Outlook” recently carried a classic 1972 photograph of Mzee Kenyatta and former Governor Everlyn Baring taken at State House, Nairobi, that indeed spoke a thousand words. It is amongst other things, a fusion of two times, two worlds, two different ways of thinking, and two men that made history possible. Mzee Kenyatta appears to be saying “Eat your heart out !”, while Governor Baring appears to be saying “These things happen”. Daniel arap Moi has long and unjustifiably been regarded as the Governor Baring of our time. Even if this may be so, the Mzee Kenyatta of our time is yet to evolve.



Michael Mundia Kamau

       PUBLIC TRANSPORT SECTOR REFORMS - 25th May 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              25th May 2004

                                      PUBLIC TRANSPORT SECTOR REFORMS

As Transport Minister John Michuki’s Public Transport sector reforms enter their fifth month, there is need to reassess the entire undertaking. The initial enthusiasm has died down considerably, with limited involvement by the authorities. The exercise as a whole is suffering from poor administering as crews continue to tamper with speed governors and as the public renders only token use of the statutory seat belts. It has become the practice of commuters to belt-up only when a vehicle approaches a police road block. The equally demoralised police force also renders only token enforcement of adherence. In many ways therefore, road safety standards in Kenya have improved only marginally over the past four months.

Another big letdown has been the failure by the government to curb down as promised, on hefty fare increments that continue to burden the public. This is an extremely poor reflection on the part of the government, and a statement of it’s ineffectiveness. No reason whatsoever can be accepted for a government exposing it’s citizenry to vulnerability, hazard and demise. When a citizen of Kenya is not able to afford the addition of an extra twenty shillings to his or her transport budget, and is therefore forced to wake up at 4 a.m. in the morning to walk to his or her destination through an impoverished country teeming with thugs, then he or she has been forsaken by the government.

The much heralded Kenyan Public Transport sector reforms are also doomed to fail, because of the timing to implement them in the midst of a vacuum. The common man in Kenya is more vulnerable and disenchanted now than before NARC’s election victory, because of the high hopes and expectations that were set. The void is similar to that left when an individual is told that the end of the world is tomorrow, believes it, lives out his or her remaining day like there is no tomorrow, and then wakes up rudely to the shock of tomorrow.

There will always remain a need to eradicate recklessness on Kenyan roads. This will however only succeed in a system that works. Many Kenyans wake up and sleep hungry today. We are a deprived nation that survives on handouts. This has severely destroyed our pride and self esteem. We are a congested nation with little privacy, limited opportunities and a penchant for fornication, adultery, alcohol and drugs. Kenya today is a real life cast of John Ruganda’s play, “The Burdens”. It becomes very difficult to administer law and order in such conditions.

To rebuild confidence in ourselves and this country, the NARC government should concentrate it’s energies on rejuvenating the entire system and not just Public Transport sector reform. The input of the entire public is needed for this to succeed.

It has been decreed that PSV termini are to be administered by municipal staff who are already demoralised and ill paid, if paid at all. Already existing and highly experienced PSV termini staff who have rendered invaluable service for several years, are to be pushed into a shrinking job market that is yet to create 708,000 jobs as promised. The entire Kenyan police force is being relied on to enforce the Minister’s directive after all of it’s own were skipped to head the force, and the job given to an army brigadier. The issuance of competency documentation is being done by demotivated staff of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), under the threat of retrenchment. When a PSV survives and emerges from all this, it is to be boarded by hungry, angry, broke and scathed commuters who are expected to pay very close attention to the fastening of seat belts.

The NARC government is behaving worse than France’s Marie Antoinette through the decrees it is ruling by. This country has always been ruled through decrees by the brutal provincial administration anyway. It had been hoped that NARC would infuse a user-friendly system of people-centred governance, which it has not. The people of Kenya want nothing more than to see the NARC government work it’s magic at getting the system working. No glimmer of this magic is apparent after seventeen months of NARC’s rule.



Michael Mundia Kamau

     THE SCRAMBLE AND PARTITION OF KENYA - 24th May 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            24th May 2004

                                   THE SCRAMBLE AND PARTITION OF KENYA

One of the highlights of President Mwai Kibaki’s Ukambani trip in the week of 16th May 2004, was his warning of repossession of idle land by the Kenya government. President Kibaki however once again failed to back to his words with a firm government policy, in a country indeed faced with a land crisis. President Kibaki’s statement can also not be treated lightly, coming hot on the heels of an attempt to forcibly evict landowners in the locality, led by none other than an assistant minister in his own government. A similar casual pronouncement by former President Daniel arap Moi towards the end of his reign, is what precipitated rebellion and plunder by residents of Nairobi’s Kibera slums, when Moi took sides with the tenants and his then Energy Minister, Raila Odinga, in a rent dispute.

President Kibaki himself is the owner of a 1,700 acre prime piece of land in Naro Moru, and appears to be inviting trouble to his very own door step, by inciting land-less Kenyans to take the law into their hands. The matter of land reform in Kenya therefore requires to be approached with utmost caution. Any initiative to institute much needed land reform in Kenya, must involve the people of Kenya as a whole. If second generation land reform in Kenya is to take the shape of the repossession of the White Highlands at independence, then the division of land parcels, compensation of the owners, loan schemes and repayment timetables, inter alia, have to be clearly spelt out. President Kibaki and former President Daniel arap Moi and his 3,000 acre Kabarak farm, are two examples of beneficiaries of independent Kenya’s first generation land reform. The Kenyatta Family’s Gachewa Farm is another example.

Second generation land reform in Kenya is long overdue, at a time when the population has grown disproportionately. Land laws are too casual and must be reformed to benefit the vast majority of land-less Kenyans. Former Taveta MP, Basil Criticos, walked out on Kenya and his obscenely huge 40,000 acre Taveta ranch in a care free manner, and has shamelessly reappeared back from America to reclaim it, without as much of a word from the government. For a start, Basil Criticos’ Taveta Farm ought to be nationalised by President Kibaki’s government, if it wants to demonstrate it’s seriousness about land reform.

And indeed this must be so. The common man has been the backbone of Kenya over the past 40 years, and is yet to be rewarded for this. Denied the opportunities that Presidents Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki had in terms of acquiring properties, assets and land, the common man has been forced to etch out bare survival on the edge, through micro-entrepreneurial actvities like hawking and farming. The people who stayed behind and kept Kenya going all those years feel utterly betrayed when they see reward reapportioned to the likes of Basil Criticos. The people who stayed behind and kept Kenya going all those years, feel deep anguish when told that dual citizenship may be allowed for by a new Kenyan constitution, thus giving the unproductive Diaspora, a free hand to benefit both ways.

Kenya cannot be said to belong to anyone in particular. Five years ago, the media carried a highly charged debate involving Kenyans of African, Asian and White descent, that tackled the ownership of Kenya. An African of Kikuyu descent called for the immediate expulsion of all Asians and Whites from Kenya and the reclamation of stolen lands. One H.W. Blunt, a White-Kenyan from Nakuru, responded by giving a graphic account of the history of the East African region dating back to the 15th century, and demonstrated how the Kikuyu originated from the Congo, came to their current Kenyan location in the 15th century, and dispossessed the Gumba of their land. H.W. Blunt’s argument brought the debate to an end.

During the campaigns for the 1992 general elections, there was also a humuorous twist when former President Daniel arap Moi said that Ahmed Bamarhriz, a founding member of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD), was not a Kenyan, and that he should go back to Yemen. Bamarhriz responded by saying that he would do so by boarding the next flight to Yemen, but added that Moi would also be concurrently expected to board the next flight to Sudan. Large parts of Malindi are also owned by Italians, which makes Kenya no man’s land in particular.

Kenya belongs to those who want to make it their country regardless of race, creed or background. It belongs to those who will stand by it, and not bolt at the slightest threat of tribulation. It is this Kenya that President Kibaki and his government should seek to identify, support and grow, in Kenya’s quest for second generation land reform. President Kibaki’s government is called upon to present a comprehensive and simplified blueprint of Kenya’s second generation land reform program.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                   COWBOY GOVERNANCE - 23rd May 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             23rd May 2004

                                                  COWBOY GOVERNANCE

The trashing of the highly acclaimed Kiptoon report and the revelation that the Kenya government is duty bound to settle outstanding albeit contentious debts to contractors commissioned by the previous regime, is further indication of a government that is yet to grasp the magnitude of governance. The NARC government owes the people an explanation regarding the trashing of the Kiptoon report, and several other outstanding issues in Kenya.

Government ministers, members of parliament and civil servants, have taken to making all manner of empty promises, pronouncements and pledges in a country that continues to be plagued by growing hardships and uncertainty. Fuelled by instability in the Middle East, the price of petroleum products in Kenya has risen in the past two weeks, with a forewarning from industry players that further increases are shortly forthcoming. Public Service Vehicle operators have also signalled an anticipated increase in rates, as have other players in the economy. This is happening as leaders continue to traverse the country engaging in valueless conferences, valueless political rallies and valueless battles for supremacy. The leadership in Kenya is totally out of tune with the disenchantment and anguish of the people. Street talk nowadays is about betrayal, calls for Moi’s return and an intention to vote out NARC should a snap election be called. One wonders whether these sentiments filter down to the establishment, whether they are treated with any remote seriousness, or whether they are simply trashed like the Kiptoon report. Single party rule under KANU was even more secure because of the understanding that one was constantly being watched. In those days, one spoke ill of the government with the same approach and caution of crossing a road i.e. look right, look left, look right again, and then talk. NARC’s intelligence gathering network is apparently not as active.

A government motion for parliament to adjourn in preparation for the June 2004 fiscal budget was defeated by an array of the backbenchers, not on the grounds of any sound principle, but because they wanted each parliamentarian to be advanced an amount of US $ 250,000, being the annual constituency fund entitlement. Not one parliamentarian has tabled a proposal or budget on the intended use of the first constituency fund instalment of US $ 250,000 despite the eagerness, and this is precisely how this country is being governed. Issues that do not concern the common man are being shunted into the background. The common man in Kenya is not being given a forum to effectively air his grievances. Jimmy Gathu’s Kiss 100 talk show “The People’s Parliament” and Citizen Radios’ “Jambo Kenya” (Hello Kenya) and “Wembe wa Citizen” (Razor Blade of the nation), are examples of how desperate things are in Kenya. Contributors call in with all manner of tribulations and inaction on the part of the authorities. At the time when certain allowances for military personnel were withdrawn, an anonymous caller purporting to be a captain in the army and purporting to be calling from the Lanet Barracks, made a reckless threat of a military coup on Jimmy Gathu’s “People’s Parliament”. Jimmy quickly quashed the matter after one or two callers either backed or opposed the threat.

NARC convinced an entire populace that the removal of Moi and the KANU regime was the solution to this country’s problems. An entire nation woke up with the highest of expectations on the 27th of December 2002. NARC created the belief that Kenya would be transformed into a paradise overnight. These expectations are yet to be met. Not much has changed in Kenya over the past 17 months though, which is the cause of the restlessness. Prospects are just as gloomy as KANU’s pre-NARC Kenya. There is widespread industrial unrest across the country, with very little effort on the government’s part to address and calm this unrest. Even where agreements have apparently been brokered, the government has backtracked after realising it could not support commitments it had made. A case in point is the public universities lecturers’ pay rise, which the government is attempting to side-step by declaring that the bulk of the funds to cater for the pay rise, shall be met by the cash strapped, debt ridden, ill-equipped administrations of the public universities.

If NARC’s handling of the university lecturers’ pay hike and the Kiptoon report are anything to go by, then this country is truly in serious trouble, because both are reflections of a government that does not want to make any meaningful commitments. The excuse of a dysfunctional structure that does not support legal action does not hold water because in early 2003, the current parliament rushed through a constitutional amendment that significantly raised the the salaries and emoluments of all parliamentarians. The same parliament arm twisted the Finance Minister into approving supplementary budgetary estimates for the implementation of the contentious US $ 250,000 allotment, per constituency, per year, to be administered by the constituency member of parliament. This country does not lack laws, it lacks leaders. It by extension also lacks commitment to good governance, which is why NARC may not relinquish power should it lose the next general election. Speculation was rife that former President Daniel arap Moi would nullify the December 2002 Kenyan elections the same way that President Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria did with the late Mashoed Abiola’s election victory. Former President Moi in his phenomenal scheming however lived up to his own billing, and not that of NARC and numerous other Kenyans. The one person accused of having no respect for the law upheld it when it most mattered. Legend has it that Mzee Moi always consulted trusted inner circle authorities on legal matters before taking any major action. NARC looks destined to undo this high standard set by Moi. This is why the constitutional review process is taking centre stage in a country that long stopped obeying notices and cautionary messages like “Usikojoe Hapa” (Do not urinate here), “Shuka mbele” (Alight at the front of the bus), “Usishuke kama ngari ina tembea” (Alight only when the vehicle has come to a complete standstill), “Strictly No Smoking!”, “No Dumping of Garbage Here!” and “No Idle Sitting”.

Self esteem are at an all time low in Kenya today despite the abundance of cell phones and a host of several other symbols associated with advancement, something that NARC should be aware of. We may not appear frail on the outside, but we are deeply hurting and insecure on the inside. On simple matters like communication, one is in a dilemma on whether to start a conversation with a fellow Kenyan with Swahili or English, because it is bound to provoke an  issue either way. If you speak in English, you may be construed as being condescending and trying to lord it over those around you. It has the same effect if you speak in Swahili. It may be even worse if one speaks in any one of the languages of Kenya’s 42 indigenous groups. Whichever way, someone is bound to be offended for no valid reason. The phrase “Una ongea mbaya” (You are being insulting), is in everyday use in Kenya, to the point that people punctuate conversations with pathetic and forced laughter, and make sure that an individual is first described as a nice person, before any criticism is levelled against him or her. We have been forced to tiptoe around everyone and everything in this country, and have emerged as our own worst enemies. If you are well intentioned or otherwise, it amounts to the same thing, because there is no meaningful formation in Kenya. The highlight of the 2003 Kenyan Rhino Charge, Kenya’s loose equivalent of the Paris-Dakar Rally, was the significant attendance by spectator African-Kenyans driving very trendy four wheel drive vehicles. This was very encouraging and it appeared that White-Kenyans and Asian-Kenyans had stopped detaching themselves and began accepting African-Kenyans as equal partners, only for the feature to progress on, and reveal the African-Kenyans heartily dancing “Mugithi”, a local form of entertainment that seems to have captivated everyone. It’s not enough that “Mugithi” is a form of entertainment in literally every establishment in Kenya, we had to take it to the Rhino Charge where it’s not bound to add any value and build any bridges. This is the Kenya that NARC must contend with, and reform.

Kenya also has another interesting, less explored and potent side to it. Seven years ago I was part of a group of people doing minor renovations to a business premises. During the one hour lunch break, we engaged in discussions over a a wide range of matters including the high incidence of police harassment and brutality at the time. One of the workers was known as Martin Uhuru, a highly skilled albeit illiterate craftsman I had known for six years. Martin sadly passed away some years back in the heart of the Mathare slums because he could not afford the treatment for an illness he had contracted, an amount I was later made to understand was not even that much. During our luch time break seven years ago, Martin impressed us with his first hand knowledge of the illegal actions of the police at the time, and quoted relevant sections of the Police Act. Martin also told us that the police were not authorised to search any premises without a warrant. I knew I stood the risk of offending Martin if I asked him how he knew all this, but I nevertheless mustered the courage and asked him. Rather than take offence, Martin took a lot of pride in telling me that he had gathered this and much more from the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), a station that I had personally dismissed, despised and disregarded for many years. Martin represents the Kenya that NARC has inherited, lacking the will to change, but certainly not lacking ability, exposure and intellect.

Seventeen years ago our high school mathematics teacher also took a similar detour from classwork, telling us about the reckless driving and unnecessary deaths on Kenyan roads. Mr. Cheruiyot contrasted this with the higher safety incidence recorded with tourist vans. Mr. Cheruiyot paused briefly and smiled, knowing fully what our response would be. Yes indeed, we roared back at Mr. Cheruiyot, telling him that those tourist vans he had mentioned, were driven by Africans. Yes indeed, Mr. Cheruiyot concurred, and then went on to point out that the tourists regulated the speed of the vans by continually communicating with the driver. It is time we start regulating the pace of this country’s development.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                             KUBAFU ! - 13th May 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            13th May 2004

                                                        KUBAFU !

In typical Kenyan fashion, President Mwai Kibaki partly referred to his official driver as “kubafu”(idiotic), at a public function held in Kiambu district on 8th May 2004. It is difficult to tell why this was necessary but one notes a continued effort by President Kibaki to ape the presidency of Mzee Kenyatta. The last time that Kenyans publicly heard insults from a sitting president was during the reign of President Kenyatta from 1963-1978. President Kibaki is making no effort to conceal the deep admiration he had for President Kenyatta given that his government also launched a new generation of currency notes with Kenyatta’s potrait. President Kibaki however appears to be moulding into a Mzee Kenyatta clone rather than a Mzee Kenyatta admirer, and is displaying little or no originality of his own.

The role of President Kibaki and his government is to reverse the indiscipline in Kenya. We have no regard for good conduct, decorum law and order. There is next to no stature and dignity left in Kenya anymore and President Kibaki will not help in correcting this worring situation by casual insults in public. “Kubafu” and several other stronger insults are in everyday use across Kenya for no good reason. Instead of addressing the problems afflicting this country, we are concealing deep inadequacies by taking refuge in insults. Disputes in public service vehicles are very common in Kenya, for instance. Much too often, these disputes involve older members of society who should know better. Almost always, these disputes digress from the subject matter and degenerate into pathetic and repulsive exchanges of insults including President Kibaki’s “kubafu”. This happens day in day out, in K.A.N.U.’s era and NARC’s. The president must lead by example if this repulsive culture is to be reversed. Ironically, former President Moi went to great pains to portray leadership in a dignified light. President Moi had a stoic no nonsense stature. It is said that this is the reason that Moi has opted to wear contact lenses for many years, rather than spectacles, as spectacles would portray “Mukulu” (the leader), as weak.

President Kibaki also ought to be more sensitive to the people’s plight. The state driver insulted by him, personifies different faces of society. As a driver, he represents the common man’s plight. He is the cashier at the supermarket, the farmer, the public service vehicle tout, the policeman on the beat, the nurse at the clinic and the primary school teacher. To insult his driver is to insult the vast majority of Kenya, the vast majority that voted him president. President Kibaki’s official driver is however a common man, and much more. The Kenyan presidential guard is drawn from the elite Recce Company of the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU). These are individuals who receive specialized training in presidential security in countries like Israel, to complement skills already attained in Kenya. The General Service Unit as a whole is dreaded and feared in Kenya, let alone the Recce Company. By referring to his official driver as “kubafu”, President Kibaki was by extension branding Kenyan pilots, Kenyan doctors, Kenyan engineers and Kenyan architects, “kubafu”. On Saturday, 8th May 2004, President Kibaki effectively insulted an entire nation.

If President Kibaki admires President Kenyatta so much, then it should be more fully than is being displayed. We are not seeing President Kenyatta’s personal touch in President Kibaki’s presidency. President Kenyatta made it the practice during his presidency to leave State House, Nairobi, during rush hour in the evening. The aim by  President Kenyatta was to most probably entrench the belief that all equal Kenyans are equal. Kenyatta’s motorcade would at times go through Nairobi’s Majengo slums, on it’s way to his Gatundu home. On one of these several occasions, legend has it, Kenyatta was drawn to a familiar face in the crowd and ordered the motorcade to stop. After scrutinising, the individual more closely, Kenyatta elatedly called out “Wewe mukora Abdallah !” (Abdallah, you rascal !), to which Abdallah retorted “Wewe Mzee….., ume upata ukubwa uka tusahau !” (You have fallen on big things Mzee Kenyatta, and forgotten us !). Kenyatta immediately disembarked from his limousine and went and bonded with his old friend Abdallah. It emerged that Mzee Kenyatta and Abdallah were amongst the pioneers of Nairobi’s Majengo slums, and stayed there together in the 1920s and again in the 1940s, in a country that still insists that no one comes from Nairobi. Mzee Kenyatta and Abdallah formed part of what were playfully referred to as “Wakora wa Majengo” (Rascals of Majengo), in those days. President Kibaki is yet to bond with the Kenyan people in this manner. He is too detached and too aloof, and does not look like he is going to change.

Michael Jackson is another example of a public figure who has stayed at the top because of his links with the grassroots. Michael Jackson has for several years commissioned dancers from the slums of America, who update him on the latest street moves. Michael Jackson has over the years skillfully blended street innovations with his own creatively developed moves, and always stayed in contention. It is time for President Mwai Kibaki to visit the slums of Kenya.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                  A NATION IN TURMOIL - 9th May 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              9th May 2004

                                                A NATION IN TURMOIL

The head of the civil service in Kenya has issued a stern warning against the leakage of government corruption to the public ! This in itself is admission on the government’s part of the existence of widespread state corruption and an indication of the ineffectiveness of the threat, given that the civil service head’s circular leaked.

There is a breakdown in communication in Kenya. Law and order in Kenya broke down a long time ago and the head of the civil service should be aware of this. A nation within a nation, a system within another, has evolved in the forty years that we have continued to deceive ourselves that all is well. Directives, threats and warnings, are of no use and need to be substituted with comprehension, deliberations, feedback, transition, skill and wisdom. Threats are a manifestation of inadequacy and barrenness and powerfully signify that Kenya is not in the firm grip of the NARC government.

The NARC government continues to insult the intelligence and patience of the people of this country by preaching water and drinking wine. Institutionalised corruption in Kenya evolved not necessarily because of K.A.N.U. rule, but because of a country that was guided by myth, fantasising and greed, rather than sound policy and sound judgement. All these cannot be wished away by directives and threats but by a clean up transition.

The head of the civil service belongs to an elite generation of Kenyans who received quality training from missionaries and the colonial government. It is this training and skills that have placed them in the pole positions that they are in today. When veteran Kenyan educator, Carey Francis passed away, his funeral was attended by a distinguished array of cabinet ministers and private sector luminaries, a tribute to the man and his legacy. Very few Kenyans aged thirty five and below are however able to relate to the name Carey Francis. It is this group of individuals who form the bulk of Kenya’s population, the bulk that has most missed out on the opportunities of Carey Francis’ Kenya. It is a generation that has grown up on the fringes of society continually promised of an elusive better tomorrow. It is a generation that worked no less hard in school, but sadly missed out on the opportunities of Carey Francis’ Kenya. Directives, threats and warnings may have worked in Carey Francis’ Kenya, but they are totally inadequate in NARC’s desperate Kenya.

High and unplanned population growth has made it impossible for the current structures to cope. The few income earners are severely burdened with the needs of an entire nation. It is said that when an individual in Africa is sacked, an entire clan is sacked. For many years in Kenya, it was fashionable to make third party references to the common man and his plight, until an entire nation rudely awoke to the grim reality that we had all become common men. Literally all of us now wade through pools of filthy water brought about by a crumbling infrastructure, literally all of us are the targets of police brutality and harassment and are continually being made to part with bribes to avoid worse, literally all of us are victims of crime and terror and are constantly in fear of our safety and security and literally all of us live in ill planned neighbourhoods lacking several amenities and littered with all manner of garbage and refuse, including human feaces.

We emerge from this predicament to either walk to our places of work, or board steeply priced public service vehicles fitted with seat belts for our safety. We are unable to orderly organise ourselves in the boarding process and therefore have to rely on stage touts with much less education and training than ourselves, to restore order. We also rely on the despised touts with much less education and training than ourselves, to maneuver through the multiplicity of traffic jams, and get us to work on time, to find a strong worded circular from the head of the civil service. The circular is quickly dismissed as it has less of a bearing than the one on looming staff retrenchments, which we understand is still on it’s way.

The situation in Kenya is tense, and it is up to the NARC government to alleviate this tension. In place of threats, the people of Kenya need to see encouraging reforms, however minimal. It is this very same NARC government that convinced Kenyans that it was the K.A.N.U. regime, and nothing more, that was the stumbling block to Kenya’s development. The NARC government is ruling by directives, not objectives, and without the input of the people. Why wasn’t public input sought on the constitutional review stalemate and on public transport sector reform ? Why is the NARC government taking the people of Kenya for granted ? The debt is yet to be paid and this cannot be evaded.

Rebellious groupings like “Mungiki”, “Angola Msumbiji”, “Jeshi la Mzee” and “Baghdad Boys” have evolved and grown because of the inability and denial by Carey Francis’ Kenya to accept and address the realties of a drastically changed nation. The language of the people must be spoken if there are to be any breakthroughs. On Jamhuri day 1993, former President Moi caused roared and prolonged laughter when he said that K.A.N.U. won the general elections of the previous year because it dispatched young children to their mothers to beg for forgiveness. He used this description again during Mzee Kenyatta’s memorial in the year 2002, with the same effect. This is the simplistic approach that must be used, not threats.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                      500,000 BLUNDERS - 1st May 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              1st May 2004

                                                 500,000 BLUNDERS

In the week starting 25th April 2004, it emerged that additional high profile structures in Kenya, are built on reserved land. Key amongst these are Pastor Pius Muiru’s Miracle Centre, the Nakumatt Shopping Mall, Kengele’s Restaurant, and part of the campus of the prestigious United States International University (U.S.I.U.), all of which are situated on the Nairobi - Thika road. This adds to an earlier list, which included the prestigious Kul Graphics building on the Nairobi-Mombasa road, that formerly housed the U.S. Embassy and the posh US $ 6.2 million housing estate owned by the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), situated in Nairobi’s Langata residential area. Pastor Pius Muiru,  the U.S.I.U.’s Dr. Freida Brown and the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), have come out fighting strongly, and vowed to fight the matter to the bitter end. There are numerous other structures in and around Nairobi that are under threat of demolition by either the City Council of Nairobi, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company or the Ministry of Roads and Public Works, not least the sprawling Kibera slums in Nairobi. This more than anything else, appears to be the reason why the demolitions were brought to an abrupt halt. Three-quarters of the capital city of Nairobi for instance, would have been brought down by bulldozers had the demolitions continued as scheduled.

It is clear that the matter was not properly planned for and is yet another case of NARC’s misplaced zeal and priorities. The Ministry of Roads and Public Works for instance, relied on a single bulldozer that had seen better times and which broke down in between the short exercise. The Ministry of Roads and Public Works further commissioned half-baked experts in a failed venture to use explosives as an alternative to the old measly bulldozer. It would be terrible to imagine that the NARC government is ruling Kenya as a whole with this callous approach. What is more is that we have not witnessed resurgence in the construction and repair of roads, a resurgence in more expansive and efficient electricity distribution, or a resurgence in the maintenance of already existing properties owned by the City Council of Nairobi.

Kenya’s demographic growth over the past 40 years has far outstripped the available resources. The problems in Kenya are more about lacking resources than they are about overpopulation. No government, NARC or KANU, can cope with the demands of the Kenyan population in the current situation. Another factor that has contributed to the emergence of illegal structures, especially in major towns, is massive rural-urban migration over the years. It continues to be felt that the shortest way to riches is either in urban centres or overseas. Successive Kenyan governments, not least the current one, have not been successful in stemming this tide and establishing different growth centres across the country. Nairobi’s Kayole residential area on its own for instance, is much bigger than several Kenyan towns and strengthens the case for Nairobi being made a metropolis. It will be disastrous for the Ministry of Roads and Public Works to move it’s lone bulldozer into the Kayole residential area, a big part of which has been contentiously constructed. Much of Nairobi’s skilled labour force resides in Kayole and other similar neighbourhoods such as Umoja, Zimmerman, Githurai, Dandora, Kitengela, Ongata Rongai, Kiserian, Komarock, Kangemi, Ngong, Kahawa, Kibera, Mathare, Kikuyu, Kabete and Kawangware. Bringing down many of these neighbourhoods will be bringing down Kenya as a whole.  Towns across Kenya further enjoy very limited goodwill from their residents which further complicates the situation. The annual urban-rural mass migrations during Easter and Christmas are testimony of this. When U.S. boxer Thomas “Hitman” Hearns made a winning comeback in the curtain raiser of the heavyweight championship bout between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield in 1994, he kept repeating with deep pride that he was from Detroit (“Motown”) and had demonstrated the capability of “Motor City”. This is not the case in Kenya in so far as the urban set-up is concerned.

It appears that NARC had no idea of the real situation and acted in haste, presumably to impress the very public that it set out to destroy. Emphasis should be in establishing opportunities centred away from urban centres and lessen the intense pressure on urban centres. Kenyans deep down avoid urban life if they can help it, and prefer the less fast, more serene rural life. This is why individuals still return to their rural homes on retirement. It is this understanding that appears to have escaped NARC. Farming must be revamped, roads must be constructed, electricity needs to be generated and small scale industry and commerce needs to be developed. Ideally, this would fall into the 25 year government plans that have become moribund. It is these 25 years more than anything else, that appear to be scaring NARC. The populace in Kenya is restless and eager for solutions, many of which will take 25 years to materialise at a consistent and collective pace of hard work. If this stark truth is not delivered at these early stages, it may never be delivered. If NARC cannot deliver, oversee and steer this stark truth, it had better honourably give way to a generation of leaders brave enough to effectively make this undertaking. Mzee Kenyatta sacrificed 72 years of his life and gave Kenya 15 years of life. Mzee Moi sacrificed 54 years of his life and gave Kenya 24 years of life. NARC looks like it is about to squander all 165 years.

NARC rule has enabled us broaden our knowledge and vocabulary with terms such as Memorandum of Understanding, Northern bypass, Southern corridor and Turnkey project. NARC rule has however continued to remain silent on the destiny of this country. It is said that that silence means consent and one wonders whether NARC consents with the suffering of the people of this country. Designer suits and designer tours to selected areas of this country need to be dispensed with and replaced with designer overalls, gum-boots, hoes, and a designer movement that will see Kenya through the next 25 years.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                KENYAN NATIONAL DRESS - 29th April 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             29th April 2004

                                            KENYAN NATIONAL DRESS

The race for a Kenyan National Dress is on, with the full backing of the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services and a full page advertisement on page 19 of the "East African Standard" of 28th April 2004. The Kenyan Nation is about to be defined by fashion merchants instead of allowing for the evolution of National wear by the people of Kenya. The venture to identify a Kenyan National Dress is of no benefit to this country, and is designed to reap huge financial gains for a select few.

More than a National Dress, Kenya today is in need of a National Health scheme that will enable access of health care by the majority. More than a National Dress, Kenya today is in need of a National road network that will facilitate much needed communication and connectivity across the country. More than a National Dress, Kenya today is in need of National undertaking to revamp agriculture, commerce, industry and athletics, and in so doing, create opportunities for millions of deprived people.

There is a serious identity crisis in this country and it is hard to see how this will be cured by a Kenyan National Dress. We are a deeply insecure country with no standards and this needs to be addressed before we allow fashion merchants make it worse. In the 1980s local comedian Benson Wanjau a.k.a. Ojuang Hatari, poularised the term "haraka" (be hasty), from his comical use of it on the "Vitimbi" comedy show. Kenyans across the country were forever heard using Ojuang's comical threat. This fizzled out. In the 1990s the use of the phrase "Do I say" was in generous use following local musician Poxi Presha's releases of "Otonglo time" and "Total Balaah". This also fizzled out. This was followed by excellent impersonations of former President Moi by local comedian Nyambane and the catch phrase "Na hiyo ni maendeleo"( That is development). Suddenly everything on everyone's lips in Kenya was "Na hiyo ni maendeleo". This also quickly fizzled out. One of the latest crazes in Kenya was the term "Unbwoggable" (Unbeatable), coined by local musicians Gidigidi Majimaji, and the rallying call of the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) party, before and after the 2002 general elections. This has been overtaken by "Fagilia", the musical hit by Tanzanian musician, Mr. Nice. In between all these, Kenyans have generously embraced Conglolese musicians and music with a passion.

The social mood swings that are characteristic of Kenya over the years, are also a feature of our clothing over the years. Originality and creativity are lacking in Kenya. Founding President Kenyatta tried to institute this with "Harambee" (Togetherness), which registered marginal success. Former President Moi tried to institute this with "Nyayo"(Continuance), which also registered marginal success. Current President Kibaki appears to want to institute this by delegation, which is also registering marginal success.

In principle, Kenyatta and Moi understood what it took to evolve Nationhood. It takes the involvement of each and every member of the community in daily ventures that are relied on for the livelihood, survival and future of the community. The success rate of these ventures determines and builds widespread societal traits such as dress codes. The success rate of these ventures evolves identity.

The drive in Kenya should be towards building on the foundations laid by Kenyatta and Moi. This will ultimately evolve a Kenyan National Dress. A Nation true to it's people and ideals determines what it wears. Fashion merchants do not determine a Nation, because a Nation is much more than a National Dress.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                MARTHA'S VINEYARD - 24th April 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             24th April 2004

                                              MARTHA'S VINEYARD

The differences between Kenya's Water Development Mimister Martha Karua and Nairobi radio station Kiss 100, has assumed comical dimensions. What should qualify for an award winning photograph appearing on the front page of the "East African Standard" of 22nd April 2004 (http://www.eastandard.net/archives/april/thur22042004/images/current/hmpg220404.jpg), captures the intensity of the misplaced battle. This country can ill afford to spare so much energy on such distractions and the matter should quickly be settled out of court.

The killer stare on Water Development Minister Martha Karua's face as captured in the classic "East African Standard" photograph of 22nd April 2004, is best directed at the numerous water vendors behind illegal connections in and outside Nairobi, who have been the source of anguish to water consumers for several years. The killer stare on Minister Martha Karua's face as captured in the "East African Standard" photograph of 22nd April 2004 is best directed at numerous defaulters of water bills comprising private persons, private and public companies, government departments and state corporations. The killer stare on Minister Martha Karua's face as captured in the "East African Standard" photograph of 22nd April 2004 is best directed at the inept, inefficient and loss making water department of the giant City Council of Nairobi. The killer stare on Minister Martha Karua's face as captured in the "East African Standard" photograph of 22nd April 2004 is best directed at those that may have negligently caused the siltation and blockage of the giant Sasumua Dam in 2003, causing acute water shortages in the capital city. The killer stare on Minister Martha Karua's face as captured in the "East African Standard" photograph of 22nd April 2004 is best directed at those behind perennial water inaccessibility in numerous parts of the country including the lakeside city of Kisumu and the seaside city of Mombasa.

Kiss 100 may currently be the trendiest radio station in Kenya in the eyes of a small pocket of urbanites based mainly in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru. It however comes nowhere close to commanding the huge following of the giant Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). Caroline Mutoko and Walter Mongare may have polished accents, charisma and plenty of wit, but they are not forces to be reckoned with on a nationwide scale. Not one of their fans showed up in their support when they attended court session on 21st April 2004. There were no frienzied placard wielding individuals screaming in their support when they attended court, unlike was the case during Sean Paul's Easter 2004 tour of Kenya. This is a true measure of the real popularity of the pair. When Caroline Mutoko was at Capital FM five years ago, she once oddly referred to The Jacksons as failures. When Michael Jackson was arraigned in court in the United States to face the more serious charge of child molestation,  he was widely cheered by adoring fans who had turned up in his support. Michael Jackson even climbed on top of a car roof top to delight his supporters with a vintage MJ jig. Michael Jackson may be many things including a racial migrant, but he certainly cannot be categorised as a failure. The Jackson Family as a whole, are not failures. Martha Karua should therefore not aid in building the stature and profile of relatively low key radio presenters and concentrate on bigger more crucial matters.

Former President Daniel arap Moi said that he regretted leaving office at the prime of his experience. Mzee Moi was certainly accepting that many of the earlier actions taken by his government, may not have been necessary. These included showdowns with the media. This must have been the reason he loosened his grip on the media towards the end of his reign. Kiss 100's Walter Mongare and his humorous impersonations of Mzee Moi are testimony of this. No one would have dared do what Walter did in the years of say 1979, 1982, 1986 or 1990. Moi learnt to let the media be themselves as he concentrated on other matters. The media in Kenya still actively portrays Mzee Moi's legacy in a negative light. This notwithstanding, Moi continues to receive warm welcomes in the different corners of the country that he continues to tour. The smear campaigns are failing miserably and NARC can learn a lot from the one man they loved to hate.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                             aNARChy - 23rd April 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              23rd April 2004

                                                        aNARChy

The refusal by Kenya's Information Minister, Raphael Tuju, to heed a court ruling halting the proceedings of the committee he instituted to probe the conduct of radio station Kiss 100, is catastrophic. Raphael Tuju ought to be dropped as a government minister immediately and arraigned in court for contempt proceedings. This will not however happen and obscurely worded government statements will be used to dispatch this grave matter into oblivion. The public will also read in the press about how President Kibaki summoned Raphael Tuju to State House Nairobi, for reprimanding.

Raphael Tuju's disastrous action is being made in the midst of another shocking revelation that the NARC government irregularly approved the implementation of a project to provide Kenyan passports at a cost of US $ 33,750,000, when a much less costly venture costing US $ 10,000,000, was in the offing. The blunders by Tuju and the Kenyan Treasury are being made in the wake of the appointment of four new acting judges of the High Court of Kenya by President Kibaki, the appointment of a new Police Commissioner and the concluding stages of the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry into the massive misappropriation of state funds during the Moi era. One wonders whether the appointment of the four judges should be put on hold to allow for Raphael Tuju to be arrested and arraigned in court, or whether the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry should be temporarily halted to allow for the establishment of an inquest into the scandalous passport contract award of US $ 33,750,000, or whether the new Police Commissioner should temporarily halt his number one priority to tackle crime, to enable him personally prosecute Raphael Tuju for contempt of court.

NARC's post-Moi Kenya has become a bad dream and will surely become a nightmare even faster. Parallels between NARC and Fredrick Chiluba's  Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in Zambia, can be drawn. Parallels between NARC and Bakili Muluzi's Malawi, can also be drawn. Both are cases of dashed dreams in which the purported reformists became despotic tyrants. Sound judgement, political acumen and foresight are lacking seriously in NARC and when this dawns on them in the coming months, panic and desperation will take charge to the detriment of all else. The law will be fragrantly broken and altered to protect individual interests. Fredrick Chiluba unlawfully declared former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda persona non grata asserting that Kaunda was Malawian, unlawfully incarcerated Kaunda and unlawfully and unsuccessfully tried to alter the Zambian constitution to grant him extended rule. There is no difference between this and Raphael Tuju's action.

A government is not judged by the content of it's credentials but by it's ability to connect with the people. A people friendly government may not and will not necessarily deliver on it's pledges, but it's presence in the community will continually be felt. Human Beings appreciate this regardless of what may be the prevailing difficult conditions. Argentina's Che Guevara, Cuba's Fidel Castro and Tanzania's Julius Nyerere stand out in this respect. Unexpectedly, President George Bush of America also features in this category, if only for his surprise 2003 Thanksgiving day visit to American troops in Iraq.  The world makes plenty of jokes about George Bush but his was one graceful act of leadership that will not be forgotten soon. The Commander-in-Chiefs bear hugs with his troops were certainly no joke.

NARC has and is not making any effort at people friendly governance. Attending a function at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ),  Labour Minister Ali Mwakwere "clarified" that the NARC government did not make a pledge to create 500,000 thousand jobs a year, but rather said that it would create an enabling environment for individuals to prosper in business. This is not people friendly. Transport Minister, John Michuki, has instituted sweeping and beneficial reforms in public sector transportation, part of which has resulted in the arbitrary and punitive increase in fares, at a time that the Kenyan economy is in recession. The government pledged to contain this, but has not. This is not people friendly. Roads and Public Works Minister, Raila Odinga, began a spirited campaign to demolish all structures on land set aside for road reserves and halted this exercise in between in public interest and like Raphael Tuju, in defiance of a court order. This is not people friendly. Local Government Minister Karisa Maitha, was implicated in a tendering scam for the provision of insurance coverage and has not satisfactorily cleared his name from the scandal. This is not people friendly. Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi, Planning Minister Anyang Nyongo and Transport Minister John Michuki once again, were implicated in a tendering scam to supply cranes to the Kenya Ports Authority and like Karisa Maitha, have not satisfactorily cleared their names from the scandal. This is not people friendly. The very first business of the ninth parliament that brought in NARC rule, was to increase the parliamentarians' salaries and emoluments. This is not people friendly.

NARC appears to have been a terrible mistake that Kenyans will live to regret. It's near loss in the just concluded Kisumu Town West parliamentary seat by election is manifestation of people's disaffection with the establishment. The low turn out and near victory by KANU was a protest vote whose implications should not be treated lightly. The KANU loser has threatened to take the matter to court, citing several election irregularities, the very courts that Raphael Tuju has defied. It is pretty obvious how the government will treat the verdict, should the court rule against NARC.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                 KIBAKI’S BLANK CHEQUE - 17th April 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             17th April 2004

                                               KIBAKI’S BLANK CHEQUE

One of the key highlights of President Kibaki’s Easter weekend tour of his home district of Othaya, was his advise to locals to take advantage of the prevailing low interest rates and seek cheap credit from commercial banks. President Kibaki made it sound so easy but failed to back up this huge announcement with a tangible government policy paper.

The announcement itself was greeted and treated with the typical scepticism characteristic of the public mood in Kenya today. It was made in tandem with a plea from President Kibaki to locals to work harder and spend much less time, money and effort in the consumption of alcoholic brews. Pressident Kibaki’s views are valid, but are being made in the midst of several outstanding issues.

For one, President Kibaki did not address the issue of huge outstanding funds owed to farmers in the locality and beyond. The cost of farm inputs vis-a-vis returns has also been a perennial grievance of farmers in Kenya for far too long. The problem has been compounded by poor roads to collection points and delayed payments. These problems existed even during President Kibaki’s ten year tenure as vice president from 1978 -1988. Disillusioned farmers have over the years either staged protests and boycotts or engaged in reckless partying when paid their infamous bonuses. Others have altogether uprooted traditional cash crops like tea and coffee in favour of horticultural produce that has a more stable market.

It had been hoped that the NARC government would quickly and conclusively address the major problems in the farming sector, which it so far has not. Were this to happen, farmers would probably find no cause to approach commercial banks for credit, as advised by President Kibaki.

It is also inappropriate for President Kibaki to attack the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Kenya without addressing the root cause. The very political structure that enabled President Kibaki become President of Kenya has contributed immensely to alcoholism in Kenya. Politics and political campaigns in Kenya have always been associated with money, booze, women, sleaze and partying. It reeks of double standards to pour scorn on one part of the engine that has helped build political careers in Kenya and reveals problems of a much larger scale. It is probably why President Kibaki’s announcement was greeted with the usual scepticism.

Related to this are numerous unresolved issues in the huge cooperative movement in Kenya. Wisely sensing revolt, the government recently quickly backtracked on proposed legislation that would have streamlined the controversy riddled cooperative sector. The fast recovering National Bank of Kenya is unduly targeted by the Kenyan media whenever it wants to give an example of a Kenyan corporation that has been massively mismanaged, at the expense of the numerous equally mismanaged Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs). SACCO funds are extremely stretched and overdrawn and if an independent impromptu audit were to be suddenly done on them, the National Bank of Kenya would be made to look angelic. SACCO funds are stretched and overdrawn because many Kenyans have come to rely on them in these desperate times. SACCOs are a conduit for officials and members to access and abuse funds with reckless abandon and this is why Cooperative Minister Njeru Ndwiga’s proposed legislation met with rebellion from the SACCO movement. SACCO rules are laxer, more convenient, more flexible and much more subject to abuse, than the sterner more stringent rules of commercial banks, and President Kibaki cannot claim not to be aware of this. If President Kibaki’s government cannot reign in the indiscipline in the cooperative movement, it has no business pointing a finger at the apparent illicit behaviour and lazy habits of farmers in Kenya. Further, if President Kibaki’s government is brave enough to legislate the much needed reforms in SACCOs, funds would be freed for equally much needed reform in the farming sector and beyond.

The government’s call to Kenyans to take advantage of the prevailing low interest rates is in itself the a monumental undertaking that must be backed by nothing short of a government sessional paper. Agreements must be drawn up backed by intricate and lengthy litigation. Logistics involving the provincial administration, the Kenya Police and fraud agencies, must be put in place. Training of personnel, the bulk of which will come from the demoralised civil service, must be catered for. The issuance of fake certificates of competency in ongoing public transport sector reforms, stresses the importance of proper planning. Economists and planners will also be required to draw up contingencies for this massive infusion of funds into the economy. Economists will further be required to play a leading role in training borrowers on the management of funds. This is important because many African-Kenyans do not possess business skills. We act on hearsay rather than researched facts and this has resulted in numerous insolvencies. It is common in this country for African- Kenyans to act on statements such as “I know someone who started a cyber-cafe last year, and he (or she) is now doing very well”. Ventures and much needed infrastructure will therefore require to be identified and put in place. An undertaking of this magnitude can easily cause a revolution if poorly managed.

President Kibaki could be President of Kenya for the next nine years as allowed for in the present constitution, and it could take these nine years to just lay the foundation of what President Kibaki proposes and the nine from 2013 to 2022, to implement. Ours is a country in serious need of direction and it will take much more than the casual declaration for individuals to seek cheap credit from commercial banks, for this country to attain Rostow’s Stages of Development. The future of this country and it’s people ought to be inspired by the powerful remarks of Michael Douglas in “The American President”, “This country has serious problems, we need serious people.”



Michael Mundia Kamau

              FACULTY OF INEPTITUDE - 3rd April 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            3rd April 2004

                                              FACULTY OF INEPTITUDE

The refusal by Kenya’s University Staff Academic Union (UASU), to quickly accept the lucrative pay package offered by the Kenya government on 31st March 2004 is a sign of misplaced judgement on the part of UASU. UASU is unreasonably insisting that the government offer be backdated to July 2003. The government on it’s part insists that the the lucrative new pay deal commence in July 2004 most probably, to allow for the increments to be factored into 2004/2005 fiscal budget. UASU should consider itself very lucky to have gotten a pay deal that ensures that it’s lowest paid members earn a consolidated monthly salary of 73,046 Kenya shillings per month (approximately US $ 950). A salary of US $ 950 per month is a laughable pittance in the west and elsewhere in the world, but in Kenya it accords one a comfortable middle class standard of living complete with a car and several other accessories associated with status in today’s world. Were it possible, many Kenyan laymen like myself, would quickly submit applications for jobs as lecturers.

UASU ought to grow up fast and wake up to the harsh realities in Kenya today. The economy continues to shrink despite the massive goodwill that characterised the election victory of the very government that has offered UASU a new pay deal. The IMF and World Bank are continually reminding President Kibaki’s government that it made a firm pledge to drastically reduce public expenditure, which is where the salaries of lecturers fall. Major staff retrenchments are slated for the Kenyan civil service over the coming year. Giant and strategic state corporations like telecommunications monolith Telkom Kenya, Kenya Railways Corporation, Kenya Power and Lighting Company, Postal Corporation of Kenya, Kenya Commercial Bank and National Bank of Kenya, are targeted for privatisation, some, by June 2004. Parliament is currently in session and it is expected that the government sponsored Privatisation Bill will be passed into law, enabling the privatisation of state corporations to begin. The immediate implication is that there shall be massive staff layoffs. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Prof. Gerishon Ikiara, has already announced that Telkom Kenya is to lay off 11,000 workers by June 2004.

The revised minimum consolidated lecturers’ salary of US $ 950 per month is in itself difficult to justify. Academic standards in Kenya have fallen to the point that association with graduates of Kenyan public universities is shunned. No effort has been made to mould individuals that will be sought after by institutions and corporations. In the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s audit firms PriceWaterHouseCoopers(then Price Waterhouse), Delloite & Touche(then known as Delloitte, Haskins and Sells), and Coopers and Lybrand, used to make high profile recruitments of top graduating students at the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University. A career in these audit firms was cherished as it ensured long term executive entry into other blue-chip companies in and outside Kenya. This is hardly the case anymore. Manufacturers like Unilever (then known as East African Industries), British American Tobacco Kenya Limited, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and Kenyan Breweries Limited also keenly sought a diverse range of Kenyan public university graduates for training in different fields such as engineering, marketing and management. There was more pride and purpose in those days. The few remaining blue-chip companies that there are in Kenya today however shun graduates of local public universities, preferring to deal with graduates from universities in the developed world, or graduates of local private universities such as the United States International University (U.S.I.U.) or Daystar University. Kenyan society at large shuns and despises graduates of Kenyan public universities highlighting the difficult predicament that this country is in.

Intellectualism has also taken a back seat amongst the student population. Hardships have forced the student population to concentrate almost wholly on basic survival. University halls of residence have been transformed into retail markets and catering units. Female students have even gone as far prostituting, their plight abandoned by an uncaring, unfeeling and indifferent UASU, and society at large. Kenyan Public Universities were a hot bed for intellectualism and radicalism in earlier years so much so that the establishment deemed it necessary to build friendships with student bodies. Few can forget the numerous and publicised “cups of tea” that former President Moi had with student officials and students at large. Former President Moi used to host large university student delegations at mainly his Kabarak home, to no doubt placate the radicalism. Moi even planted undercover intelligence officers amongst the student population to gather information. On a political front, this is the seriousness with which public university students were regarded in those days. Moi devised many ways to keep university students in check such as the generously funded but now defunct University Students Accomodation Board (USAB). Hardship, ineptitude and mismanagement have however killed intellectualism at Kenyan public universities and Moi’s ploys are no longer necessary.

Academic excellence amongst the lecturers themselves has also stagnated. Despite their high academic qualifications in different fields, Kenya is not renowned for producing top notch world class acdemics and professionals. None of them is say, a nobel prize recipient, to justify a minimum salary of even half of US $ 950 per month. Kenyan lecturers are not known to be “poached” by world renowned organisations. A spoilt and pampered lot, Kenyan lecturers are under the deception that their academic papers are the one and only key to success. Instead of aggressively pursuing their callings, Kenyan lecturers have diverted their energies and pursuits to short sighted “get rich quick”commercial ventures such as Public Service Vehicles(“matatus”) and construction of low cost housing. If Albert Einstein and famed cardiologist Christain Bernard had only remotely entertained such thoughts, this world would have made lesser strides.  It is said that the technology used in the American Apollo space missions of the 1960s/1970s, is what has helped revolutionalise personal computers. This foresight is lacking in Kenya and academic excellence has been seriously compromised with lecturers lurching greedily at any subsidiary lecturing job available. Their own children do not even attend local public universities and are promptly dispatched to overseas campuses courtesy of their connections. None of them can lay claim to being even remotely linked to a world success story such as the phenomenal growth of personal computers. In the humanities, growth stagnated with brilliant writers such as Professor Ngugi wa Thiongo and Professor Francis Imbuga. Kenya’s Professor Washington Jalango however deserves praise for brokering a last minute deal between Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) and Magosothu Buthelezi’s Inkatha National Party (INP), prior to the near stalled South African elections of 1994. This is the profile that Kenyan academics need to aspire for.

Kenyan education standards are in a terrible mess. It no longer even pays that much to pursue an education abroad. This clearly means that the problem is not with our education system or facilities, but with our attitude. However prestigious an education that an individual has, it can never make up for character. This country lacks the character to change and the character to discard with misplaced beliefs and notions and adopt the one notion that matters most: hard work. No one seems to want to work hard anymore in this country and this is where the problem lies. We leave half completed work on our desks to rush for evening classes in the false belief that the proverbial elusive solution lies here. The generation that will next prosper will be made up of those that we most despise i.e. least educated but most industrious. Even if founding President Kenyatta had not attended the London School of Economics, he would still have become President of Kenya because of his drive and initiative. Even if current President Kibaki had not attended Uganda’s Makerere University, he would have become President of Kenya because of his drive and initiative. Former President Moi did not attend either, but he still became President of Kenya because of his drive and initiative. It takes more than academic papers. It takes more than US $ 950 per month.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                             FREEZE FM - 1st  April 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              1st April 2004

                                                         FREEZE FM

The Kenya government instituted probe on leading Kenyan radio station Kiss 100 is an ill- timed move that sends the wrong signals to the Kenyan media and Kenyan public at large. It is ridiculous to prefer claims of vulgarity against Nairobi’s Kiss 100 in a country that suffers no shortage of vulgarities and profanities. The chief executives of two of the leading media groups in Kenya, The Nation Media Group and The Standard Limited, constitute part of the probe team that has been formed by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Raphael Tuju, which goes against the code of collective responsibility and is indeed a recipe for self-induced media destruction in Kenya.

Even if the claims against Nairobi’s Kiss 100 are true, which they are not, Kiss 100 cannot be accused of propagating vulgarities any more than the rest of the wider Kenyan society. There is no objectivity in the minister’s decision to take such a drastic step. The Nation Media Group’s “Sounds of Africa” aired on Nation FM every Sunday from 9.00 a.m. and 12.00 noon has a heavy sexual content and can be described as vulgar and profane. The “East African Standard” recently launched a Friday weekly magazine “Pulse”, which features scantily dressed public figures and models on it’s social scenes pages. The Kenya Television Network (KTN), has also been criticised for airing “Channel O”, the music channel heavily laden with sexual suggestiveness. A wide range of Kenyan television stations ranging from the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Kenya Television Network (KTN) and Stellavision (STV), air Congolese musicians and their different music styles like “Ndombolo”, “Kwasa Kwasa” and “Mutwashi”, which are heavy laden in their sexual suggestiveness.

It will be curious to know the exact source of the bitter complaints against Kiss 100’s “vulgarities”. Many of the Public Service Vehicles used by Kenyans play loud occidental music full of obscenities. Much of this is North American rap music where it is easier to point out standard language than it is to point out profanities. It is had to tell whose benefit this music is played for. The public has not been able to rein in this offensive practice since the 1980s and it is strange that Kiss 100 should stand targeted.

What’s more is that “profanities” are not a recent development in Kenya. The late Marvin Gaye’s  hit single “Sexual Healing” was a released in America in 1981 and was a hit in Kenya for most of 1982. “Sexual Healing” is indeed still a hit in Kenya and is regarded as a classic. “Sexual Healing” made and continues to make many a parent cringe with horror when it is played on what can today be regarded as Kenya’s “numerous” radio stations. When “Sexual Healing” was initially released the only broadcasting station in Kenya was the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (then known as Voice of Kenya), and it was where none other than Minister Raphael Tuju, was then a television anchor ! Raphael Tuju should surely be the last person to be brazenly curtailing press freedoms with partiality. What’s more is that the current media structure in Kenya was responsible in a big way for NARC’s 2002 election victory having done very little to conceal their “de facto” campaign against the detested KANU regime.

Come the 1990s and Kenyans were introduced to more drama and horror in the form of “Color me Badd’s”, “Let’s talk about sex” and Koffi Olomide’s “Etoutana”, whose extremes saw to it being banned even in his native Zaire. Kenya 2004 is no better, replicate with pornography and obscenely dressed women. A newly launched Ugandan tabloid called “Red Pepper”, specialising in hardcore pornography, is selling well in Kenya, and making Kenya’s hitherto hardcore pornographic magazines, look like child’s play.

When leading Kenyan thespian, Wahome Mutahi, passed away in 2003, he was widely feted as an individual who made a valuable contribution to this country. Amongst those who feted “whispers”, was the NARC government which is now at the centre of harassing Kiss 100’s Walter Mongare, who was in strong likelihood inspired by Mutahi ( “whispers”). The other irony is that Walter Mongare made a name for himself by doing excellent impersonations of former President Daniel arap Moi. Not once was Walter or the “Redykyulass” group ever picked up for questioning by the KANU regime, inspite of their satirical impersonations of leading figures in the then regime. Walter and “Redykyulass” sometimes even portrayed Moi dancing “Ndombolo”. Word even has it that Moi quite liked the “Redykyulass” group, watching them often !

At the 2003 media awards Wilfred Kiboro, chief executive of the prestigious Nation Media Group startled many by speaking out against the then crackdown on the Kenyan alternative press by the Attorney General. Talk about strong support from unexpected quarters. In principle, Mr. Kiboro’s unexpected stand was geared at safeguarding wider press freedoms and he must be commended for this. There was the fear that this country was returning to the days of intimidating press censorship where even this writing would have been the target of government intelligence officers on the lookout for “subversives”. Mr. Kiboro is called upon once again to lend his counsel to the government’s unnecessary affront on Nairobi’s Kiss 100.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                         NA   RC - 29th March 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             29th March 2004

                                                     NA            RC

The sharp differences in Kenya’s ruling party NARC as captured on the Kenya Television Network’s “News Shot”, of Friday, 26th March 2004, are a sign of a deeply troubling situation. The minister incharge of internal security Dr. Chris Murungaru appears on camera describing the squabbling as comical, but forgets to give a full description by adding lethal comedy. Among leading Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament captured on camera spewing venom are Dr. Murungaru himself, Roads and Public Works Minister Raila Odinga, Health Minister Charity Ngilu, Water Minister Martha Karua, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Bondo MP Dr. Oburu Odinga and Kabete MP Paul Muite. The bitter wrangling comes nothing close to President Kibaki’s description of Kenya today as a working Nation. What is further troubling is the fact that no effort, cosmetic or real, is being made to shield the acrimony from the public. NARC is going at each other in a crude unnecessary manner that defies all logic.

No reason whatsoever can justify the manner in which NARC is behaving. The moment that government ministers openly clash in public and private, a Nation either grinds to a halt, or  gives way to an opposition in waiting. The Kenyan opposition is in a mess equally as big as NARC’s which effectively means that this country has ground to a halt. Something really drastic requires to be done to reverse this situation.

The picture is clearly that of power hungry individuals who are prepared to go to any lengths to accomplish their ends. None of the warring factions is even bothered about presenting a justifiable agenda to the public to show cause for the infighting. This is terrible for a government that has been in power for only 15 months. The presidential candidature of Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka is already being endorsed by a section of voters, 45 months ahead of the next scheduled Kenyan general election.

There is no focus in the present government, meaning that it has never been there in the first place. The individuals in government today are self seekers with personal agendas which is why they are in sharp disagreement. It is clear that the only problem they had with former President Daniel arap Moi, is that he stood in their way.

NARC by now should have created 625,000 new jobs in the Kenyan economy. NARC by now should have put up 187,500 new housing units across the country. NARC by now should have  had a new constitution in place, even though a new constitution has never been a priority in independent Kenya. NARC by now should have put in place basic reforms that would have spurred direct and indirect foreign investment in Kenya on large scale. NARC by now should have revamped the ailing Kenya tourism sector. NARC by now should have revived sport in Kenya. What appeared so easy 15 months ago has become become impossible.

It is hard to tell what course this country will take but it’s certainly not a good one in the near future. There is a stalemate in government and the country as a whole. One way to break this stalemate is for this country to evolve issue oriented politics as quickly as possible, and discard with speculative politics. The prospect of this is however grim as desperation bites deep in Kenya. Those in the National Alliance of Parties of Kenya (NAK) organ of NARC are no better than those in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) organ of NARC, and vice versa. What’s for sure is that this country is in a frighteningly terrible mess.

Transworld Sports described Muhammed Ali’s 1974 defeat of George Foreman to regain the heavyweight boxing title of the world as Ali’s trip to hell and back. Transworld Sports further described Ali’s successful 1976 defence against Joe Frazier as not just Ali’s trip to hell and back, but Ali opening the gates of hell and having a good look inside. Comparisons can be drawn between Ali’s 1976 and Rwanda’s 1994. Comparisons can also begin to be drawn between Ali’s 1974 and Kenya’s 2004.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                 NATION DEAF M - 24th March 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             24th March 2004

                                                    NATION DEAF M

The two part segment suggesting that former President Daniel arap Moi had to be convinced to hasten the transition of power after the 2002 general elections carried in the “Daily Nation” issues of 22nd and 23rd March 2004, is an example of misdirected, hollow, fabricated and nonsensical journalism. It goes against logic for the Nation Media Group to expect the public to believe that the Kenyan Armed Forces, who owe their current stature to former President Daniel arap Moi, played the role of saviour in a situation that the Nation Media Group pathetically attempts to portray as grave. Whatever personal grudge or vendatta that the Nation Media Group bears against the the former President, must be kept off the public.

After the failed attempt by the Kenya Air Force to overthrow the government on August 1st 1982, then President Moi immediately set out on a huge campaign to revamp the military. It is no secret that then President Moi was badly shaken by the coup attempt of August 1st 1982. Then Chief of General Staff, Gen.(Ret.) Jackson Mulinge and his successor Gen.(Ret.) Mahmoud Mohamed, played the lead role in crushing the mutiny, and were generously rewarded, with Gen. Mohammed almost immediately being appointed to head the then newly constituted Air Force 82. The terms of service for the military in general were upgraded attractively. It was in those days that the generous discounts on a diverse range of consumer goods enjoyed by the military through the Armed Forces Catering Organisation (A.F.C.O.), became enviable public knowledge. Many civilians used their contacts in the military, big or small, to secure A.F.C.O. commodities. Legend has it that military personal were given free beef rations for their families in those days, the higher the rank the bigger the portion, of course. It was widely felt that the military were excessively pampered, and then President Moi’s government suffered heavy criticism for this. The then government managed rather successfully to conceal the heavy budgetary allocations made for the military, through all manner of obscure votes made mainly for the Office of the President. A commissioned military officer of the rank of Major had a four wheel drive Land Rover at his or her disposal in those days. A career in the military was sought after by many in then. All manner of professionals including doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects, economists and accountants, sought entry into the military.

The Nation Media Group expects the public to disregard all this and have us believe that the benefactor of the present Kenyan military, had to be convinced to hasten a transition he had long and discreetly planned for. The Nation Media Group ought to focus it’s energies on providing direction to our deprived country. The Nation Media Group has huge resources that are being misused in the transition that this country is undergoing. This country is in a de facto state of siege and tension and faced with the real possibility of going up in flames, and the best that the Nation Media Group can do is to attempt to rewrite history through two of it’s issues. Present and future generations of this country may find this hard to forgive.

There are many people in this country who may never forgive Daniel arap Moi and his twenty four year legacy. The Nation Media Group appears to fall into this category even though their massive investments were never under any real threat in those twenty four years. Nevertheless, former President Daniel arap Moi continues to lead a quiet semi-detached, semi-accessible life in retirement in this very country. He was wildly cheered during one of his most recent public appearances on Saturday, 20th March 2004, at the burial of University of Nairobi don Professor Jusper Musyoki Mumo. There is no fortress around Moi and he isn’t attempting to create one. So if anyone has a grievance against Moi, they should be brave enough to utilise the existing avenues of redress. It is cowardly to use the print media to attempt to fight long vanquished battles. The almost absolute majority of those who cheered former President Moi at Professor Mumo’s funeral do not even read the “Daily Nation” anyway.

In 1975 the then Nation Newspapers Limited reported that the then missing Nyandarua North M.P. , J.M. Kariuki, later found brutally murdered, was in Zambia. I personally know someone who has never quite forgiven the Nation Media Group for this and whom it took close to 21 years before reading through a Nation Media Group publication with any reasonable seriousness. I consider this unduly harsh and uncalled for, but in a small and big way, portrays the potential damage of misreporting.


Michael Mundia Kamau

            KENYA AFRICAN NARC UNION - 10th March 2004

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             10th March 2004

                                           KENYA AFRICAN NARC UNION

The rule of Kenya’s ruling party NARC, continues to degenerate into a situation worse than George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. One of the most startling recent allegations has been that businessman Kamlesh Paul Pattni at the heart of the ongoing Goldenberg Inquiry, made video recordings of those he comprised over a period of at least ten years. Part of this alleged recorded evidence is in the hands of the Kenya police, and purportedly implicates several high ranking officials of the current government, including Cabinet Ministers.

What continues to emerge is that the so called Goldenberg International was a conduit of organized crime, public plunder and monumental rip offs. If it can only be remotely ascertained that sitting members of the current government were involved in the Goldenberg scam, then they ought to be immediately dismissed. One thing the Kibaki government can surely be thanked for though, is the establishment of the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry, which has enabled the public see the path of madness that this country had taken.

President Kibaki’s government ought to take a firm stand on this and other matters if it hopes to retain the little that’s left of it’s dwindled stature. Former President Moi was ferociously hounded out of office, blamed for years of corruption and horror management. The man was not even given the chance to defend his legacy inspite of the fact that he honourably accepted defeat. Daniel arap Moi did not hopelessly wait for the last minute as did Jean Betrand Aristide of Haiti, Lt. Gen. Raul Cedras of Haiti, Jean Claude Duvalier of Haiti, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Idi Amin of Uganda, Siad Barre of Somalia, Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, Jean Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Charles Taylor of Liberia and Gen. Robert Guei of Cote d'Ivoire. For the good and future of this country, Daniel arap Moi stood down when his time came. Even at this late stage the media is still hounding Moi’s legacy.

It is therefore baffling to see those that attacked Moi with frenzied passion, turn a blind eye to the purported ills of the present government. Who or what is being protected ? The plight of the ordinary Kenyan is becoming more difficult by the day. Informal settlements have and continue to be demolished. Incomes remain stagnant, but inflation continues to bite, fuelled partly by the ongoing transport crisis. It is not widely accepted, but many Kenyans made a living from illicit trades like smuggling, which the NARC government is clamping down hard on. The life of the ordinary man in Kenya is under threat, yet the tales of those that we voted to redeem us is quite different. It is difficult to reconcile the demolishing of informal structures, with government officials caught red-handed receiving bribes on camera.

The NARC government continues to pretend that it has the solutions to this country’s problems, as this country continues to fall into despair. The food chain has been disrupted at the lower end without any available alternatives. An already impoverished people is being made to bear with further impoverishment. If NARC does not have the solutions to this country’s problems, then it should largely allow for things to continue as they were previously, as solutions are sought.

This government pledged to set right the ills of the Moi regime, yet it’s ministers are purportedly on camera dining with detested edifices of past rule, as recently as last year. Why allow one section to partake in the forbidden fruit and deny the other? This type of governance is deeply troubling and reveals that the country as a whole is rotten.

This country will always be grateful to Daniel arap Moi for this. We made fun of him, but he understood that the approach to such a precarious situation was a delicate blend of ironhandedness and complacency. Daniel arap Moi stunned the country on Moi Day in 1996, when he spoke “sheng”, the local mixture of Kiswahili and English, mainly associated with the youth. Moi mentioned words like “Budha”(Old man), and “Eshia”(Get lost), to the amazement of the crowd. This is the extent that Moi went to understand the situation on the ground in this country. President Kenyattta’s approach to leadership was also practical. He allowed for the food chain to continue by for instance, adopting a soft line on coffee smuggling at the Kenya-Uganda border in the 1970s

The same cannot be said of NARC. It is a regime largely no better than the previous two, but one determinedly bent on textbook management. America went through a recession in the early 1980s characterised partly by mass layoffs. Giving his side of the story one of the affected workers gave a moving narrative when he said that his young son did not understand the fancy terms used to explain the gloomy situation such as economic crunch. All the young boy could understand was that his stomach was hurting because he was hungry.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                 NOWHERE IN AFRICA - 9th March 2004

                                                                                                               Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                               P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                               00200 City Square
                                                                                                               Nairobi
                                                                                                               Kenya

                                                                                                               9th March 2004

                                                    NOWHERE IN AFRICA

The Academy award winning feature film of the year 2002 on the plight of a Jewish family fleeing Nazi Germany for Kenya, is currently showing in Kenya, one year late, and just as Africa was once again honoured with Cherise Theron's Academy award for best actress for the year 2003. The entire cast, producers and directors of "Nowhere in Africa" must be credited for this useful venture.

"Nowhere in Africa'' however falls short of adequately highlighting the plight of Africans in those years. Sidende Onyulo's sterling performance as Owuor and the close relationship he evolves with the emigrant German family is a celebration of "Nowhere in Africa", but still falls wantingly short of capturing Africa's historical perspective. It is unfortunate that Africa still lacks a sound policy to restore and preserve her rich history. Memorable contemporary motion picture ventures to bring out the African story include "Shaka Zulu" and Stephen Spielberg's "Amistad". "Amistad's" theme however follows the age old West African theme on slavery, indeed that adopted by Alex Haley’s tainted “Roots”.

Africa’s history is however as vast and rich as the continent itself. Hollywood has the requisite resources and expertise to produce a blockbuster on African events and African personalities, both ancient and contemporary, that stand out in the continent’s history. These include Samore Toure and the Sokoto Empire of West Africa, Kijinkitile and the Maji Maji rebellion in Tanzania, and the ancient kingdoms of Uganda.  In Kenya the Nandi resistance and the Mau Mau rebellion may be appealing contemporary themes for a Hollywood blockbuster. In Granada Television’s “End of Empire” the Mau Mau movement is described as a rebellion that shook colonial rule like no other on the African continent, and one that induced a change in policy regarding the colonies. This is the sort of substance that could interest Hollywood.

The policy on showcasing and preserving Africa through film is however unclear, more so here in Kenya. “The Ghost and the Darkness” a Hollywood release starring veteran Academy award winning actor, Michael Douglas, featuring the havoc caused by the man eating lions of Tsavo National park during the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway at the start of the last century, was mainly filmed in South Africa ! Part of the reasons given were that South Africa had excellent scenery and filming locations, better trained and better exposed actors and actresses, and a generally more accommodating policy towards filmmakers. Kenya was amongst other things accused of charging punitive fees to filmmakers. This short sightedness is in big part why this country has evolved into a cocoon.

The world must see Africa, it’s past and present, to truly appreciate it and want to be a part of it. Who does not know about the rich history of the orient and want to be associated with it, for instance ? Films are a covenient and widely accessible medium by which initial contact can be made.

Ultimately, a people are their own best ambassadors. It is inspiring to hear Americans extolling the virtues of the first amendment, and Bill of Rights in general. It signifies a people that are proud of their history and who they are. This is hardly the case in Kenya. For many years for instance, the Maasai community has been used as the cultural face of Kenya in any and all significant events. The Maasai in their own right have a rich history of their own, and the origin of the word “Moran” lies in the Maasai community. The greatest of their contemporary leaders, Laibon Lenana, also put up a worthy resistance against British rule. However the Maasai are only given token recognition in Kenya. After serving their purpose they are quickly dispatched back to the reserves. It is a community treated with spite and derision by the rest of Kenya.

The way Kenya treats it’s cultural ambassadors is the very same way that Kenya treats her culture. When it’s convenient, we profess tradition and quickly take on second, third, fourth and even fifth wives. When it’s not, we quickly dispense with tradition and don the cosmopolitan cap, to for instance, secure admission to a prestigious campus abroad. If we do not evolve self-belief, self-realisation and self –focus, the African continent will remain as obscure as it is portrayed in “Nowhere in Africa”. It is significant that the “Nowhere in Africa” ends with the besieged German family returning back to their homeland, inspite of all  the apparent bonding including language, that they have made with Africa.




Michael Mundia Kamau

                       500,000 LOSERS - 29th February 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              29th February 2004

                                                    500,000 LOSERS

The purported March 1st 2004 deadline for women in Kenya’s coastal region to cease dressing in trousers and mini-skirts reeks of hypocrisy, cowardice and defeatism. Of all the issues in Kenya that require urgent and immediate tackling, dress codes are not a priority per se. If the perpetrators behind the cowardly distribution of the intimidating leafleats want to be of use to this country, they are better off issuing ultimatums to rapists, thugs, muggers, drug dealers and all other people involved in vice in Kenya, and even then, within the confines of the law.

It appears that several men are threatened and uncomfortable with the fast emerging status of women. Brute force, violence, intimidation and threats are not however the solution to contemporary gender issues. A new order has emerged which we must accept, which is beneficial, and which must spur productive competitiveness. The challenge of our time is to eradicate all kinds of prejudice, bias and chauvinism including racism, sectarianism and tribalism.

It is true that many women in Kenya today dress provocatively and immodestly. Part of it is a rude statement to society of emerged and emerging status, another part is a rebuke to society for  having purportedly treated women so badly for so many years, and the rest is just plain old fashioned whoring. Which ever way one looks at it however, Kenyan men play an active role in all these.

It is admirable to see the aggressiveness with which Kenyan women continue to entrench themselves in leadership, in Corporate Kenya and in a diverse range of professions. All are highly intelligent individuals with a burning desire and ambition to make a difference, and indeed have the required drive to accomplish their dreams. Many Africans yearn for the time when in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, “we shall be judged by the content of our character and not the colour of our skin”. This is a feat that will require a tremendous amount of work and many generations. There is a crop of highly skilled and motivated Kenyan women who are already playing a very useful role towards this goal. They are driven by the same passion that drove Dr. King.

If Kenyan men want to regain the respect of womenfolk in Kenya then they must resume their active role in the present and future destiny of this country. Too many Kenyan men have allowed themselves to drift into alcoholism, idleness, promiscuity and general retrogressiveness. If we are not at a venue watching a troop of women suggestively dancing to offensively loud Congolese music, we are holed up in a brothel. If not at either of the prior two venues, then we could be at an out of town location with one or two of our numerous mistresses, or at a pub trying to conceal our sorrows by cheering on the UK’s Manchester United on a giant screen. And this is for the well to do. Many other Kenyan men cannot afford these luxuries save for the offensively loud Congolese music, and have therefore taken to consuming cheap poisonous alcoholic concoctions. Several Kenyan women have even put aside their pride over the years and publicly complained that these cheap poisonous alcoholic concoctions had turned their men into eunuchs and denied them their conjugal rights ! This has been in addition to men abdicating wider and greater family responsibilities. For women to do this, they must be really desperate. Respect for men cannot be borne out of this. It is depressing to see fully able men stagger violently after consuming these brews.

The onus is on Kenyan men to regain respect by following in the good steps of a sizable number of Kenyan women. We live in a fast changing world that cannot tolerate bigotry, prejudice and chauvanism. We need to produce a soundly skilled and able Kenyan community capable of standing it’s ground anywhere in the world. The future of this country lies in both the men and women, the boys and girls. Personal failings should and will not be allowed deter the goals and aspirations of 30 million Kenyans, indeed an entire Nation.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                  GOVERNOR MICHUKI - 15th February 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            15th February 2004

                                               GOVERNOR MICHUKI

The transport crisis in Kenya enters it’s third week characterised by an unrelenting transport minister and government, a transport sector that continues to play cat and mouse games with the government and public in general, and a populace that is having to bear the agonising burden of the prior two.

The Minister for Transport and Communication, Hon. John Njoroge Michuki, must be commended for taking deliberate steps to bring back sanity on Kenyan roads. I myself was almost the victim of a near fatal road accident in 1996. The partiality with which the problem is being addressed will however drastically compromise it’s success rate. No effort for instance, has been made by the transport ministry to release a comprehensive timetable on how long at worst the public is expected to bear with the psychological, physical and financial burden. It is clearly apparent that no contingency measures were and have been put in place, another indictment to Hon. Michuki’s policy.

For two weeks now, Kenyans have desperately been forced to scramble for any kind of transport available. Talk of the government succeeding is just that. There have been appalling scenes of men, women and children scrambling for trains, trucks, pickups, saloon vehicles out to make a killing, and all other kinds of vehicles willing to cash in. All these except the train, are charging premium fares, two, three or four times more than the usual. Safety and health standards have totally been disregarded over the past two weeks and will continue to be. Transport vehicles are also openly flouting the newly instituted guidelines in the wee hours of the morning and late hours of the night, by carrying excess passengers.

There is then also a big portion of the population living in the densely populated areas of Kayole, Dandora, Kawangware, Kibera and Kariobangi, who have been forced to walk to and from work, because standing passengers paying budget fares are no longer accomodated in public service vehicles. This was a danger yes, but the government is not providing short and long term alternatives to an impoverished populace experiencing heavy budgetary constraints. Many residing in Nairobi are being forced to wake up at three or four o’clock in the morning and retire on average at about ten or eleven o’clock at night, without the benefits that North Americans reap from this. If anything, the situation has made it worse for commuters and business in general. It has also exposed the inadequacy of the road network in the capital city. It is extremely agonising to be caught in traffic jam at 5.30 a.m. in the morning or 11.00 p.m. at night, and it is clear that this was also not factored in.

The transport problem in Kenya is much more extensive and complex and the government must be called upon to approach the matter much more comprehensively. It is totally insufficient to target the transport sector alone. Literally all drivers and vehicles on Kenyan roads are the result of a heavily compromised system. In the days that I attended driving school for instance, trainees underwent the same coaching i.e. 15 one hour classes of theory and 15 one hour classes of practicals, but there were two categories of payment. One payment covered the driving lessons and cost of the driving test by the traffic police. Our trainers however made it clear that this option provided no guarantee of passing the driving test and obtaining a driving licence. There was then the other more costly, but certainly more attractive payment alternative referred to then as “licence guarantee”. Our Trainers assured us that those opting for “licence guarantee” were sure of passing the driving test, and sure of obtaining a driving licence. Literally all of us, myself included, opted for “licence guarantee”. That was the trend in those days and after, and illustrates the origin of many Kenyan drivers, because this is the trend that obtained in literally all driving schools. Those who did not attend driving school obtained their licences in equally dubious ways. For good measure if one talks to people who took their driving lessons much earlier on in the 1960s, a similar story emerges. No one in Kenya is clean, and as Professor Chinua Achebe puts it, we assert not to have any links with the smelly garbage dump yet we feast on maggots procreated in that very same smelly garbage dump.

In addition, most of the second hand motor vehicles in Kenya today have been imported over the last ten years, courtesy of liberalisation. Customs officials, businessmen and several individuals across the country, have reaped huge benefits from this lucrative albeit dubious trade. Import duty and import guidelines were openly flouted for the majority of current car owners, who continue to point a finger at the transport sector. Professor Achebe certainly has a place in Kenya. Some of the sources of these cheap second hand vehicles were and continue to be, the Middle East, the Far East, and South Africa. Several agonising and unheeded cries of distress were made by dealers in brand new vehicles over the last ten years, who found it difficult to compete in such a skewed market. The government then and now, did not offer beneficial rebates and their overheads continued to soar. The few that did not close shop, had good political connections. Then there is the other fraction of motor vehicles on our roads today that have been acquired through the nefarious and murderous vice of car robberies.

It is plain to see that the transport problem in Kenya is much more complex than meets the eye. Phase one is however being approached with little sympathy, care and sensitivity from the authorities. A word of encouragement to the suffering public from the transport minister, the president of Kenya and members of parliament is lacking, something that would have helped build solidarity. The staunchest supporters of the present day government are the ones suffering the most from the ongoing transport crisis. There is something unsettling and ominous about the government’s silence though. It is as if it is afraid to tell the public that much sterner measures are in store for this country in 2004 and beyond.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                 KOITALEL ARAP SAMOEI - 8th February 2004

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            8th February 2004

                                             KOITALEL ARAP SAMOEI

Barnabas Bii's feature on the hunt for Orkoiyot Koitalel arap Samoei's head (http://www.eastandard.net/archives/February/mon02022004/headlines/news0202200405.htm), appearing in the "East African Standard" of 2nd February 2004, signifies the continuing quest of the Kenyan nation to reconstitute it's forgotten heritage and history. This drive towards self awareness must be fully encouraged because it holds the key to any meaningful progress in Kenya.

The approach towards a nationwide renaissance ought however to be approached pragmatically lest it causes more injury than good, in a nation grappling with numerous problems. Less of an endeavour ought to be spent on locating the legendary Orkoiyot's head than on providing food, shelter and clothing for the vast majority of the Nandi and indeed Kenyans at large. Less of an endeavour ought to be spent on locating the remains of Mau Mau General, Dedan Kimathi, than on providing health care to the vast majority of impoverished Kenyans. We must accept that we have been careless with our heritage and amend this. We must also remain cognisant and focused on the more pressing social ills that continue to bedevil Kenya.

The greatness of men like Koitalel arap Samoei lies in this very fact. They defied a system that threatened to consign their people to subjugation and abject poverty. The cause is therefore far from being won, and it would surely be the wish of Koitalel that we press forward with the bigger cause and avoid distractions. It is a waste of time to try and rekindle national pride in a country that has taken to the consumption of cheap poisonous intoxicants packaged in equally cheap satchets. It is a waste of time to preach patriotism to hordes of deprived Kenyan job seekers. “Who is Koitalel ?”, they would definitely pose.

Were Koitalel alive today he would have been horrified and daunted by the social time bomb that Kenya has evolved into. Koitalel arap Samoei was not however a coward and he would have faced it and fought it, which is what we ought to do if we truly want to honour his legacy. Koitalel led a resistance that is the envy of nationalists the world over. A memorial for Koitalel is a must in the long run, but for now, let us continue with the fight from where Koitalel left it.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                    NA.R.C’S KENYA - 1st January 2004

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              1st January 2004

                                                    NA.R.C’S KENYA

Kenya ushers in the new year with a mixture of gratitude, disappointment at dashed hopes, guarded optimism, anxiety and uncertainty. The subdued mood and continuation of routine activities, are an indication that the country appears resigned to a certain fate. The optimistic celebratory mood that characterised election day on 27th December 2002 is clearly lacking. A nation’s dreams and hopes appear to be hanging on a balance.

A lot of harsh criticism has been levelled against the National Rainbow Coalition’s (NA.R.C’S), first year of rule in Kenya. Much of it is justified while the remainder is rash judgement blurred by emotion. NARC can be given the benefit of the doubt for the year 2003, but 2004 will surely define whether NARC is a party of substance, or not.

It’s too early to dismisss anyone or anything in the one year old government or coalition. Key events and statements of the year 2003 can however be used to project the year 2004 and beyond. For one, President Mwai Kibaki urged the nation to make due with the jobs at hand “as no others were available”. A broad interpretation of the president’s advise is that the country should not expect to come out of the doldrums in a hurry and should make full use of the available opportunities. In the week ending 2003, the president also stated the dissolution of the NARC constituent parties, setting the stage for dramatic confrontations. A broad interpretation of this, is that the president is stating that politicking has come to an end and work has began. Considering the pledges of approximately US $ 4.2 billion made to Kenya by multilateral and bilateral donors in November 2003, and further considering the major stakes made by the Kenya government in return for the funding, the need to get down to work is indeed paramount. One must also not forget that this country has been in a dismal state for several years now and the sooner corrective measures are put in place, the better. It is for this very precise reason that NARC was voted into power in the first place.

The career, ability and skills of President Mwai Kibaki are on test as NARC faces a crucial litmus test in the year 2004. Reticent and laconic, President Kibaki showed his ruthless side with his unprecedented purge on the judiciary in the year 2003. The people of Kenya expect many similar acts of serious governance in the year 2004. Mwai Kibaki was dropped as vice president of Kenya in 1988 after the general elections of the same year. Soon after the general elections, party elections for the then ruling party K.A.N.U. were held. Mwai Kibaki, then vice president of K.A.N.U. , did not offer himself for re-election, stating that he was not a political novice and could clearly read the signs. It was also certainly a very humbling experience for a graduate of Makerere University and the London School of Economics, a crucial ingredient in politics. It is this useful judgement and humility of yesteryear that the people of Kenya wish to see applied in the year 2004.

Mwai Kibaki, an academic and technocrat in his own right, turned down an offer to become a senior vice president of the World Bank in 1979. It could very well have been President Mwai Kibaki of the World Bank announcing the resumption of aid to Kenya in 2003, had he taken up the offer. President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya did not however accept the offer and stuck to his political career at the time. This country hopes to benefit tremendously from this kind of foresight in the year 2004.

In early 2003, K.A.N.U. , vanquished at the December 2002 polls, suffered further humiliation when former vice president, Musalia Mudavadi, resigned his post as one of the three remaining vice chairmen of the party, citing the party’s huge loss at the polls. Eldoret North MP, Hon. William Ruto, dismissing Musalia’s resignation, could not have put it better when he said that Mwai Kibaki lost big at the 1992 and 1997 presidential polls, but was now the president of Kenya. It is this kind of persistence and patience that the people of Kenya want to see applied in the year 2004.

This country needs a fresh infusion of ideals and values. Kenya was not necessarily run down by successive corrupt regimes, but by the people who stood by indifferently and watched. When former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin died in the year 2003, the murderous, beastly and treacherous acts of his State Research Bureau (SRB), Public Safety Unit (PSU), and Military Police (MP), once again emerged, as the tyrant’s legacy was chronicled. Ugandans were murdered at will in those days, and one sadly questions why they let this go on unchallenged for eight years. There was no resistance and Ugandans appear to have coalesced with a nightmare.

The same can be said of the people of Kenya. The majority played an active albeit fringe role in 40 years of horror management and at the end chose to blame one man. This country needs a ideological revolution akin to Chairman Mao’s Chinese cultural revolution of the 1960s, only that it should be spontaneous and not enforced. We must question the sincerity of our motives at large. For instance, masses of Kenyans were awake and about early in the morning on election day on 27th December 2002. It was spontaneity that had not been seen in this country for a long time and since. Someone rising at 7.00 a.m. was late. Why and how is it that this passion for change suddenly disappeared ? Were we expecting to erase 100 years of injustice in one day ? Can change be expected to come to a country in one day of the year, ignoring the remaining 364 days of the year. It is from this point that we should seriously begin to question our motives, dedication and resolve to this country’s plight.




Michael Mundia Kamau

MINISTERS AND MP HELD IN SWOOP ON PROSTITUTES - 14th December 2003

                                                                                                               Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                               P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                               00200 City Square
                                                                                                               Nairobi
                                                                                                               Kenya

                                                                                                               14th December 2003

                                MINISTERS AND MP HELD IN SWOOP ON PROSTITUTES

The lead story of the “Sunday Nation” of 14th December 2003, “Ministers and MP held in swoop on prostitutes”, is a truly bizzare and tragic indictment against the Kenya government. The whole incident need not have been reported in light of the verdict that “the cabinet minister, the assistant minister, the MP and the seven wealthy businessmen caught in the swoop, be released to save them, their families and the government from embarrassment”. It makes nonsense of the government’s stated policy on everything, especially the zero telerance policy on law breaking. On page 28 of the same “Sunday Nation”, there is a full page advertisement under the banner “Together we can wipe AIDS”, in which none less than President Mwai Kibaki is featured. AIDS has a direct link to the swoop, a point that is extensively covered in the story.

Why was it necessary to fine 100 of the 102 commercial sex workers netted in the operation ? Why weren’t they accorded the same amnesty so as to also “save them, their families and the government from embarrassment” ? Why not grant all law breakers in Kenya a general amnesty ? Out of the 102 netted prostitutes, it was found that 14 were from the Kenya Utalii College, 12 from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, 7 from the the Kenya Medical Training College, 3 from Strathmore University, and 11 from the University of Nairobi.  The Kenya Utalii College, the Kenya Institute of Mass Communications, the Kenya Medical Training College and Strathmore University are all distinguished institutions and are not likely to treat the matter lightly. Internal investigations will be conducted and expulsions are likely to follow. The affected students are not likely to benefit from the amnesty granted to the cabinet minister, the assistant minister, the MP and the seven wealthy businessmen. The affected students are no less to blame, but they shall bear the brunt. The University of Nairobi’s reputation is at a low and the 11 affected students are not likely to be the target of stern reprisals. University of Nairobi students were implicated in car-jackings and murders earlier in the year, which is an indication of how low matters have sunk at the campus.

The partiality with which the NARC government continues to approach governance, is what ruined this country in the first place. This past week, Samuel Gichuru, the former Managing Director of the giant Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), has featured prominently in the media, being hounded mercilessly for being implicated in a corruption report. The media also reported that former President Moi is among a retinue of former high ranking government officials and other high flyers who may next year appear before the ongoing Goldenberg commission of inquiry, following their linking to the scam by witnesses at the commission. Several Kenyan judges were this year also purged in an ongoing clean up exercise at the judiciary. Why doesn’t the government also let free all the above individuals inorder to “save them, their families and the government from embarrassment” ?

The Kenya Police and the “Sunday Nation” really ought to know better, and should have spared the entire country this debacle.




Michael Mundia Kamau

                    SIR CHARLES - 13th December 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              13th December 2003

                                                     SIR CHARLES

It was extremely moving to see former Kenyan Attorney General Charles Mugane Njonjo seated with members of the public at the 40th anniversary of Kenya's independence marked on 12th December 2003. It is simply unbelievable that "Sir Charles" ( Charles Njonjo's local nickname for several years ), can be so honourable and down to earth, and I at first thought it was another prank by local comedian Walter Mongare of Nairobi's Kiss 100. Of all the notable public figures in Kenya, Njonjo certainly ranks as the least expected to have chosen to be with the people at such an auspicious occasion. What's more, Njonjo has not fallen on hard times, which is when fallen Kenyan giants choose to mingle with lesser mortals.

More than anything during the contentious twelve day celebrations, the manner in which Njonjo chose to attend the climax of the celebrations, ranks as the highlight. For many years Njonjo has been regarded as the epitome of snobbery in Kenya. The son of former colonial chief Josiah Njonjo, Charles Njonjo is amongst a very small pocket of older generation Kenyans who belong to royalty, other notables being the Awori family, the Koinange family and the Waruhiu family. Legend has it that Charles Njonjo rode on horse back at the start and close of school terms during his student days at Alliance High School, escorted by Tribal Police (TP), today's Administration Police (AP). This was during the height of colonialism and gives one a clear indication of Njonjo's background. It is also said that Charles Njonjo is the only African who stayed in the exclusive whites-only Muthaiga suburb prior to independence.

After independence in 1963, Njonjo was appointed Attorney General and quickly distinguished himself as a no nonsense albeit effective and efficient bureaucrat and technocrat. A ruthless operative, Njonjo also firmly established himself as the de facto patron and protector of the White and Asian communities in Kenya, and got married to a white along the way. Njonjo was a feared man and it only took the mention of his name to settle a score for the two communities. Njonjo has also been the face of exclusivity over the years. He is only known to patronise exclusive establishments such as the Muthaiga Country Club, and patronise high profile events such as dog shows organised by the exclusive East African Kennel Club. At the time of the 1984 Njonjo commission of inquiry into his conduct, it was alleged that Njonjo even imported his fruits and water directly from the United Kingdom. These allegations were not hard to believe because it is also at this time that it emerged that Njonjo's trademark pinstripe suits were custom made with his initials "CN".

To his credit though, Charles Njonjo has always advocated for standards. On his resignation as Attorney General in 1980, and subsequent election as member of parliament for Kikuyu constituency, Njonjo pushed for parliamentarians to build stature and credibility, and shun direct enagagement in activities such as owning and running kiosks. Njonjo's feeling was that parliamentarians focus their energies on bigger ventures.

It is against this background that one is shocked by Njonjo's humble attendance at this year's Independence day celebrations. Njonjo's presence in the crowd personified the very virtues and significance of this day and overshadowed all else. As everybody madly races to be like Njonjo, Njonjo is sending a message that this country needs not just change, but a rebirth. Why else would Njonjo do something he has not done for the last eighty years ?

A rebirth in every sense of the word is what indeed Kenya needs. Sitting together genuinely and approaching the problems facing this country as Njonjo did, is the only way we can ever hope to overcome our problems. The humility shown by Charles Njonjo on 12th December 2003 is the central and lacking ingredient in this nation's plight. One year ago on 30th December 2002, Kenyans assembled at Uhuru park for the swearing in of president-elect Mwai Kibaki at a sham ceremony where diplomats and other distinguished guests were left standing as numerous non deserving locals perched themselves on reserved seats. The leading luminaries of the victorious National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), were not able to contain this despicable behaviour, try as they did. Nothing personifies the low and trivial levels that this country has sunk to more than this. This disturbing trend cannot be reversed by grand speeches and grand declarations, but by action. Charles Mugane Njonjo clearly displayed this action on 12th December 2003.



Michael Mundia Kamau

     EDWARD ROMBO AND KENYAN RUGBY - 12th December 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              12th December 2003

                                     EDWARD ROMBO AND KENYAN RUGBY

I throughly enjoyed reading Charles Nyende's feature on Edward Rombo's illustrious rugby career appearing in the "Daily Nation" of 8th December 2003 (see http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/08122003/Sports/TheBigInterview0812200312.html). Edward Rombo is indeed an icon of Kenyan rugby and it is regrettable that his legacy has been swept under the carpet. For him to have risen to the world stage and played alongside world greats of the 1990s such as New Zealand's John Gallagher is a tribute to Kenyan rugby, and is something I indeed felt compelled to note in a June 2000 article titled "A Review of Kenyan Rugby" (see http://www.scrum.com/features/kenya1.asp).

I have known Edward Rombo impersonally for 20 years since that eventful day mentioned in 1983 when Nairobi School upset Lenana School in a crucial tie. I fully understand why Edward Rombo places this day at the top of his triumphs in as much as I fully remember his surgically executed intercept and sprint down the left wing that resulted in the first of two successive tries against a devasted Lenana School. A generation of ex-Lenana school boys from that time including myself, have never quite forgiven Rombo for this, though respected him for it nonetheless, in as much as Rombo shall always remain an icon and a hero of ex-Nairobi school boys of the time.

Edward Rombo worked very hard for his success and it is important that aspiring Kenyan rugby players are made aware of this fact. Another aspect that struck me about Rombo was his focus. I had the opportunity in 1988 of training in Nairobi's Canyon Health Gym where Rombo and his University of Nairobi Mean Machine team mates did their weight training workouts in those days. Many of us in the gym including Rombo's team mates, were preoccupied with lifting heavy poundages instead of focusing on strength enhancement. Rombo on the other hand and against pressure from gym mates, restricted his weight-training workouts to strength enhancement, shunning the heavy poundages associated with body-builders. People made fun of Rombo's brief weight-training workouts with moderate weights, but did not when Leeds R.F.C. signed him up on a lucrative contract two years later.

I also support some of Rombo's attacks on the Kenya Rugby Football Union (K.R.FU.). For instance, the K.R.F.U. should have used Rombo's signing at Leeds R.F.C. to showcase the game of rugby in Kenya, and build it to much greater and much bigger levels. In baffling circumstances at the time, the K.R.F.U. was instead at the centre of a controversy barring Rombo clearance to sign up for Leeds R.F.C. ! In retrospect, this would have been one of the most opportune moments for a surge in Kenyan rugby with the K.R.F.U. showcasing a brilliant hard working young man from a middle class background, making it to the world stage.

The game of rugby in Kenya has not stagnated however and this is where the K.R.F.U. must be credited. The sevens version has undoubtedly recorded significant strides and credit goes to coach Bill Githinji together with the current generation of players such as Oscar Osir, Benjamin Ayimba and Kanyi Gitonga. They are pioneering exciting new changes in Kenyan rugby. I disagree with Rombo on this account because Kenya like Fiji, can use the sevens version to build and showcase the game.

The K.R.F.U. and rugby fraternity in Kenya at large still however needs to work double time to build a strong and supportive presence in the community. The K.R.F.U. needs to build strong societal friendships that will form the basis of support and growth. If the community in Kenya is shown tangible examples like Rombo's, which have resulted in a career, education, training, finance and exposure, then greater societal support shall definitely be forthcoming. This is significant because rugby is still considered a marginal sport in Kenya after athletics, soccer, boxing, volleyball, cricket and hockey. Past links also need to be exploited fully. For instance our current president Mwai Kibaki, presided over the closing ceremony of the Safari Sevens in 1997. Education Minister, Professor George Saitoti also presided over a pre-tournament dinner gala prior to the 1996 Safari Sevens. This is good for the game.

The potential in Kenya is so great it is unbelievable that we are letting it waste away. Some of the most outstanding players in our time came from rural settings where rugby was little known of and little cared about. They joined schools that placed an emphasis on rugby, liked it, and moved on to become stars. If this is not progressive, then I do not know what is. Rombo himself was in Lavington primary school, an urban primary school yes, but one where rugby was not played. Rombo was more of a soccer star in primary school and developed his rugby in high school. One can even argue that Rombo's senior careerwise and agewise, Jackson "Jacko" Omaido, Kenya's former legendary fly-half, had an advantage having attended primary school at rugby playing Hill School, Eldoret, in Kenya's Rift Valley province. The primary responsibility of correcting this disastrous anomaly lies with the Kenya Rugby Football Union. The advantage nowadays however is that many more schools around the country have rugby in their curriculum.

Since going fully professional in the 1995, rugby has also become much more faster, challenging and competitive. It is infact now more difficult for Kenyan players to break onto the world scene then it was during Rombo's time. Namibia's whipping at the just concluded Rugby World Cup 2003 is a clear indication of the huge disparities between the big and small nations. When Namibia toured Kenya in 1993 to play in zonal pre-qualifiers for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, they dazzled spectatators with their skill and superiority. Kenya and Zimbabwe were certainly no match for Namibia, and we now see Namibia being no match for the rest of the world. The International Rugby Board (IRB), proposes a support structure for small nations, but funding for Kenya will only be willingly forthcoming if Kenya for a start, strives to become a top rugby playing nation in Africa.  

Edward Rombo is to Kenyan rugby what Kipchoge Keino is to Kenyan athletics, what Joe Kadenge is to Kenyan soccer and what the late Chris Otambo is to Kenyan hockey. Cocky in his day, and one might even say arrogant, Rombo was a skilled and stylish player who personified and accomplished the dreams and aspirations of an entire generation of Kenyan rugby players.




Michael Mundia Kamau

What’s British govt’s stand on lifting of Mau Mau ban? - 27th November 2003

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                            00200 City Square
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            27th November 2003

                         What’s British govt’s stand on lifting of Mau Mau ban?

I refer to Peter Alexander’s scathing letter titled “What’s British govt’s stand on lifting of Mau Mau ban?”, appearing in the “East African Standard” of 27th November 2003.

This is a letter written more in appreciation of Mr. Alexander’s exemplary coverage of “Kenya’s secret history” covered extensively in the “Sunday Standard” last year, rather than the contents of his above letter per se.

It was not made clear what Mr. Alexander’s background is, but he made some very informative and invaluable revelations in his coverage of “Kenya’s secret history”.
For instance, Mr. Alexander revealed why and how the British were able to overcome the 11 year old Nandi resistance that ran through the years 1895 to1905. This was because the administration of the Kenya-Uganda railway was moved from the British Foreign office to the British Colonial office, which had much more extensive experience and resources. This was how Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen as able to organise one of the biggest military expeditions ever seen in East Africa. The British colonial government was under intense pressure to have the Kenya-Uganda railway line start paying for itself.

It was also revealed that the legendary Nandi Orkoiyot, Koitalel arap Samoei, had descendants, one of whom was called Barserion arap Manye. Barserion arap Manye was involved in the contemporary struggle for independence as a result of which he was detained by the British colonial government and released in the year 1961. 1961 is very recent, and it is surprising that the world knows little of Barserion arap Manye, a son of the lengendary Koitalel arap Samoei. Did Barserion arap Manye have a family, and where are they now ? What about the other descendants of Koitalel arap Samoei ? As diverse lobbies in Kenya call for official government recognition of the Nandi resistance, why hasn’t there been any mention of Barserion arap Manye ?

Mr. Alexander and the “Sunday Standard” are therefore credited for uncovering very vital information on Kenya’s history, and it is unfortunate that the series on “Kenya’s secret history”, came to an abrupt end mid last year. This letter therefore also doubles as an appeal to both Mr. Alexander and the “East African Standard”, to revive this crucial series. In addition, the public needs to make use of the vital resources at the Kenya National Archives and elsewhere, in a nationwide bid to piece together forgotten pieces of our rich heritage.


Michael Mundia Kamau

           PAYMASTER GENERAL - 26th November 2003

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             26th November 2003

                                                PAYMASTER GENERAL

All factors considered, the announcements of donor funding resumption to Kenya by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and 25 diverse multilateral donors, comes as very pleasant news to a battered nation grappling with insolvency. The National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), government can certainly relish in this moment of glory in the face of skepticism that forecast it’s downfall by June 2003. The much needed impetus that NARC needed to roll out it’s grand reform plans are now forthcoming, and in many ways, NARC’s reign begins now.

Despite NARC’s first bumpy year in power, it still enjoys a tremendous amount of goodwill. Victory in two by-elections held on 19th November 2003, strongly attest to this fact. It is vital that NARC harnesses this goodwill, as it will be the driving force behind the certain momentum that awaits the country in the coming year. It is also vital that NARC takes an early opportunity to release a detailed manifest of the anticipated changes and how they shall affect the people of this country. Finance minister, David Mwiraria, was very elated when he announced that the pledges made by the donors exceeded projections provided for in his June 2003. Minister Mwiraria requires to go a step further and give a detailed explanation to the public of the intended use of the monies.

NARC also regrettably appears to have withheld vital information from the public in the run up to the successful talks on the resumption of aid. The government should have made it clear that sweeping socio-economic reforms were in the offing. A new wave of civil service staff redundancies are slated for the coming year in the face of uncertainty and numerous pending issues from past similar redundancies. Media reports also indicate that government subsidies on agricultural inputs are to be removed and that import controls on maizemail and sugar, are to be relaxed. This is a double blow to the crucial farming sector in this country. Information on how NARC intends to address this new development is extremely important and needed forthwith.

The irony of the unfolding developments is that they shall be most painful to those that voted for NARC the most. This wicked turn of events presents the difficult and precarious situation that NARC now finds itself in. The footing that NARC began on will certainly haunt it’s efforts in these trying circumstances. On the 20th of February 2003 members of parliament voted themselves hefty general pay increments in the midst of general hardship and misery. No effort by triumphant NARC or the vanquished Kenya African National Union (KANU), was made to reverse this peculiar decision. Interestingly, the unjustifiable salary increment was the first item of discussion for the newly constituted ninth parliament !

On a different front, the country’s chief executive President Mwai Kibaki, is slowly but surely laying out his intended technocratic approach to governance. For many years prior to his presidency, he was playfully nicknamed “General Kigoiya” (a coward), but has over the months quickly taken the role of General Haraka, the ruthless, assertive and combative Mau Mau military General in Meja Mwangi’s epic novel “Carcass for Hounds”. At a service marked at Nairobi’s St. Stephen’s church on 8th September 2003, President Kibaki made it clear that he was the chief executive of the country, and would not allow for the establishment of a parallel office of an executive prime minister. Two months later on 20th November 2003, President Kibaki issued a stern warning to a section of the transport sector that was staging a strike, by stating that they would abide by the law like everyone else. This prompted a hasty retreat and an end to the strike. It was also a clear statement of President Mwai Kibaki’s authority.

President Kibaki’s technocratic and detached style of governance is proving effective no doubt, but harmony needs to be created and loopholes sealed. President Kibaki needs to explain for instance, why he did not marshall his party against the insensitive salary increment for and by members of parliament. The MP’s salary increment cannot be described as technocratic nor political nor prudent, but as pure greed. President Kibaki also needs to explain why he deemed it necessary to make a high profile visit to opposition leaning Kiambu district, on 1st November 2003, when he is yet to make numerous similar trips to several pro-NARC, pro-government districts. Was the Kiambu trip technocratic or political, and what signal is President Kibaki sending to the numerous people in this country who voted for him and NARC ?

All eyes are on President Kibaki and his government following the resumption of donor funding to Kenya. We can only hope that President Kibaki and his government also have all eyes on the Kenyan people as we go through this crucial transition period.



Michael Mundia Kamau

            RUGBY WORLD CUP 2003 - 23rd November 2003

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             23rd November 2003

                                            RUGBY WORLD CUP 2003

The 2003 Rugby World Cup drew to a spectacular, dramatic and memorable close on 22nd November 2003 with England’s stunning win of 20-17 over Australia. All factors considered, the England-Australia showdown goes down as one of the most skilful, entertaining, nerve wrecking and tense in the history of the game, and credit goes to both teams for the high and requisite levels of competitiveness. The 2003 Rugby World Cup culmination will contribute tremendously to the further growth and stature of the game, stature that is already high, given England’s elation at winning a major World Cup sporting event for the first time since the 1966 soccer world cup triumph.

England’s deserved victory is representative of successful restructuring and resurgence of the game in the northern hemisphere territory. The southern hemisphere myth of invincibility has been dealt a huge blow this past year and ironically, the southern hemisphere needs to borrow a leaf from England. Very few rugby followers took England’s re-building efforts seriously and now pay homage to a team that many have loved to hate for years. When the New Zealand All Blacks beat England 45-29 at the second of the 1995 rugby world cup semi-finals, the mood in Kenya was clearly ecstatic. When the All Blacks accomplished a similar feat four years later during the preliminaries of the 1999 rugby world cup, the mood was just as ecstatic. England does not have very many friends in Kenya, largely because of the British colonial legacy in this country.

This aside, one of the most memorable features of England’s game in 2003 was consistency. Under whatever pressure and regardless of the team they were up against, England stuck to their game plan and admirably retained composure, territory and dominance. Australia displayed this crucial aspect of sport in the final, but it emerged too late for the English surge. On the other hand pre-tournament favourites like the All Blacks and France, failed miserably to showcase their traditional specialities and strengths when it mattered. Australia and England respectively, made the All Blacks and France look disappointingly like novices. This is good for the sport because the growth and development of any sport cannot be hinged on myths and legends, but on reality. England clearly based their victory on precedents, unlike the All Blacks and France, whose cup triumphs appeared buoyed on legend.

Related to this, tribute must be paid not just to the English rugby team, but to the entire English Nation for rallying their support and confidence behind the team. The support was significant and crucial. It must have been very demoralising for the Australian team for instance, to have to bear with calls during the tournament, for a purge in Australian rugby from former high profile Australian rugby personalities ! Even if Australia had won the world cup, the victory would have been partial because of this. Criticism ought to be left to an appropriate time.

Credit also goes to coach Clive Woodward and captain Martin Johnson for painstakingly steering the team through the trying period of transition. Martin Johnson for instance knows the pain of defeat and understands the importance of endurance. One can only imagine for instance, how devastated Martin Johnson must have been at having to bear the indistinction of being the captain of the first British Lions side to lose a test to Australia last year. One could note the agony in Martin Johnson’s face during the 2003 final at moments when it appeared that the game could go Australia’s way. The support and patience of the entire English nation has been rewarded. Rookie Jonny Wilkinson must also be commended for his excellent footwork throughout the tournament: he made it look so easy ! New Zealand’s Andrew Mehterns was unable to accomplish this in 1995 as was South Africa’s Jannie de Beer in 1999. The winning drop goal must certainly rank as one of the most spectacular crowning moments in the history of sporting history. Fourteen players skillfully positioned themselves in a final assault that enabled delivery by the mailman.

England have set new standards which promise to see the sport develop in exciting new ways over the coming years. Before the soccer world cup final in 1982, the German team was derisively referred to as Karl Heinz Rummenigge and 10 robots. Twenty one years later, the 2003 rugby world cup distinguished Clive Woodward’s side as 15 fine Englishmen.



Michael Mundia Kamau

         First Lady and matters of dress - 20th November 2003

                                                                                                               Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                               P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                               00200 City Square
                                                                                                               Nairobi
                                                                                                               Kenya

                                                                                                               20th November 2003

                                                 First Lady and matters of dress

I refer to John N. Ochola’s letter titled “First Lady and matters of dress”, appearing in the “East African Standard” of 19th November 2003 (see http://www.eastandard.net/archives/November/wed19112003/commentaries/letters/letters001.htm), in which Mr. Ochola takes exception with the manner that First lady, Lucy Kibaki, was dressed at the Miss Disability Beauty Pageant held on 15th November 2003. Mr. Ochola raises valid points in his letter, that are representative of a wider and much bigger societal problem. This in itself absolves Mrs. Kibaki from blame per se, but is reason enough to spur reflection on this anti-social behaviour.

Indigenous dress codes in this country have been steadily declining over the past forty years. The tendency and bias however, is to focus and point out ills in female dress codes, ignoring the shortfalls in male dress codes. Men are hardly ever taken to task on their manner of dressing, which is seldom reflective of this country’s heritage. Whereas several women today can be said to dress in immodest and revealing clothing, most men don trendy outfits associated with the fashion capitals of this world. There is not much of a value system to speak of this country, and in such circumstances it becomes difficult to chastise or castigate any group over another.

In the absence of a soundly entrenched value system, the mini-skirts will just get shorter and the jeans tighter and more revealing. The more inherent hypocrisy and double standards cannot also escape attention. Women in Kenya choose to dress in the way they do for a number of reasons. On the one hand, a significant number of women in Kenya have acquired status over the past mainly 40 years. This trend continues on a rising scale. The statement of this newly acquired status is being made in what can be described as a rude and abrasive manner, as a result of historical subservience. It is a statement of conquest, intent and defiance.

On the other hand, women have chosen to ensnare the prey through seduction and here is where men folk must swallow their hypocritical protestations. Men in Kenya overtly like the daily stage shows of pornography and are indeed allured and ensnared by the predators. Nairobi’s Koinange street is a famous nocturnal pick up point for commercial sex workers and many a man revels in the opportunity to use Koinange street for a glimpse at semi-nudity. There would be no Koinange street if there were no takers, the same way women would not dress the way they do if it was not bearing results. Brothels in Nairobi with long histories, and where several generations of teenagers have been initiated, also continue to record booming business.

There is however a big difference between status and respectability. Whereas this country has witnessed the acquisition of status by several indigenous men and women, this has not come with respectability, and this is part cause of our frustrations. Respectability takes much more time to cultivate and evolve. The warm reception that former president Moi received at this year’s Kenyatta day celebrations for instance, can be described as respectability. It is respectability that has taken a lifetime to cultivate and in particular, a leadership career spanning half a century. It is doubtful whether there is another Kenyan alive capable of receiving the kind of acknowledgement that former president Moi received at this year’s Kenyatta day celebrations.

Respectability is also found in the solid legacies of Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, Lady Baden Powell, Kenya’s Me Kitilili, Kenya’s Moraa Okiage and Kenya’s Mary Nyanjiru. Kenyan women need to transform their status into respectability by building on the foundations laid by distinguished pioneers of women’s empowerment.

The dress codes of both men and women in Kenya today are a reflection of a society that does not want to take deliberate steps at evolving sound cultures and self-pride. We are playing by the devil’s rules and shall surely perish by them, unless we change.



Michael Mundia Kamau

        NBK MAKES IMPRESSIVE PROFIT - 13th November 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              13th November 2003
        
                                          NBK MAKES IMPRESSIVE PROFIT

My attention is drawn to the announcement of National Bank of Kenya’s financial report and accounts for the nine months to September 2003 covered in the Daily Nation of 12th November 2003 under the headline “NBK makes impressive profit”. The beleaguered  National Bank of Kenya (NBK), does indeed firmly appear on the road to recovery after announcing an after tax profit of Kenya Shillings 399,000,000 (approximately US $ 5,320,000), for the nine months to September 2003. This is commendable considering that interest rates on government treasury bills, the main investment avenue for banks in Kenya over the past eleven years, have drastically come down in the year 2003, and considering that NBK’s situation was so precarious following wanton plunder, that it forced the government to inject capital of US $ 26,000,000 in November 1998 to keep it afloat. This should certainly serve as inspiration to indigenous banks in Kenya.

There however appears to be a lot of intrigue surrounding NBK, and it is necessary that this is cleared. The announcement of NBK’s results as carried in the Daily Nation of 12th November 2003 roughly indicate that NBK’s liabilities with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), have now reduced from KShs. 6 billion at the end of the 2002 financial year to KShs. 2.9 billion at the end of the third quarter to September 2003. The same report states that the government still owed NBK a total sum of more than KShs. 10 billion. The figure for non-performing loans and advances increased slightly to KShs. 15.9 billion by the end of September from KShs. 14.8 billion realised over the same period last year.

From a layman’s point of view, if all the attached figures were to be balanced out, then National Bank of Kenya is a solvent bank. However, the Daily Nation’s “Business Week” of 4th November 2003 ( see http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/Supplements/bw/04112003/story04114.htm), states that the World Bank views NBK as "illiquid and deeply insolvent". In the same article, the World Bank urges the government to quickly institute sweeping reforms towards ensuring that NBK is “quickly privatised by sale of state-owned shares to new multilateral or developmental investors capable of providing good governance and strategic direction to the bank”.

Two contradictions here are immediately noted. Firstly, National Bank of Kenya has been brought back to life by a distinguished team of indigenous managers and there is therefore no need for “multilateral good governance”, and secondly, if National Bank of Kenya is  "illiquid and deeply insolvent", as the World Bank puts it, then no “multilateral or developmental investors” would want to have any dealings with it, and NBK should therefore be liquidated for the common good.

It appears that the World Bank is fronting for a select consortium of foreign businessmen interested in acquiring a controlling stake in National Bank of Kenya and indeed Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). The government also needs to explain why it has not settled it’s debt of US $ 133,000,000 to the National Bank of Kenya despite making a pledge to do so in April this year. The cabinet has so far resolved to convert a huge outstanding loan owed by the giant Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN), into equity, and injected a sum of US $ 26,000,000 in the state owned National Housing Corporation (NHC). There has been however no further mention of NBK from the cabinet.

Over and above, it appears that literally all state owned firms have been targeted for strategic takeovers by World Bank and IMF fronted business consortiums as a condition for sustained donor funding, and the government needs to clarify this and dispel speculation.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                  INDEPEN CENTS - 12th November 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              12th November 2003

                                                    INDEPEN CENTS

Kenya’s National Security Minister, Dr Chris Murungaru, announced on 11th November 2003 that this year's Independence Day celebrations of Kenya at 40 will be celebrated over 12 days of pomp and pageantry. An elaborate program and budget incorporating both the government and the private sector, has been put in place to cater for the event.

It completely beats reason why the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government, would want to host such a wasteful event in the face of unfulfilled pledges, dashed hopes and growing frustration. The year gone by can hardly be described in any other way. It would have been much more logical if NARC had used the occasion of our 40th anniversary independence celebrations to reflect and reconcile with the electorate over the years gone by.

NARC has lost credibility before it has even built it. It has become sickening to keep on hearing and reading all ills in this country blamed on the previous KANU regimes. When taken to task on literally everything, NARC and it’s supporters conveniently invoke “years of misrule under the KANU regime”. Part of NARC’s brief is to discard with the  culture of consumption and evolve a culture of productivity. It is difficult to see how this will be achieved with twelve days of unnecessary expenditure ahead, and it will be interesting to see who and how NARC blames this time.

The events of the past week have been a tale of mismanagement, misdirection and ineptitude. On the 6th of November 2003 the high profile Othaya Bursary Fundraiser scheduled for 29th November 2003, was abruptly cancelled after blatant contraventions were exposed. President Mwai Kibaki would have been the guest of honour at the event, in open contravention of the The Public Officer Ethics Act which bars public officers from organising or officiating at such fund raisers. It was further established that invitation cards for the function were embellished with a gold copy of Kenya's official coat of arms, which is also against the law.

On 8th November 2003 a fund raiser for the South Imenti Sustainable Education Fund in which Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Kiraitu Murungi played a key role, was held in contravention of The Public Officer Ethics Act. Curiously, Hon. Murungi made very derogatory remarks earlier this year when he said that former president Moi should retire to his farm from where he can look after his goats and see good governance practised by the newly elected NARC government.

On 8th November 2003 it was reported that three cabinet ministers had been summoned to appear before the parliamentary Public Investments Committee over a contentious US $ 20,000,00 tender for dockyard cranes. On the same 8th of November 2003 one person tragically died and two others were hospitalised in critical condition, after consuming the banned local alcoholic spirit, “changaa”, at the homecoming party of NARC Ikolomani MP Dr Bonny Khalwale. In attendance were two cabinet ministers and one assistant minister.
On 9th November 2003 Vice-President Moody Awori was the guest of honour at a fundraising rally in aid of Ruiru Prison Staff Training College, adding to confusion surrounding the new law which restricts leaders' participation in public fund raising functions.

Earlier, on the 26th of October 2003, “The Sunday Standard”, drawing from state sources such as the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), revealed that ten months after the NARC administration took power with the promise of economic prosperity, the average Kenyan was worse off than at any other time in the past five years (see http://www.eastandard.net/archives/October/sun26102003/reports/report26102003011.htm).

Inspite of all this and much more, the NARC government still deems it necessary to throw a lavish and expensive bash over the period of twelve days in December 2003. How it is that NARC perceives a celebratory mood, is inconceivable.

This country will discover it’s too late when it’s too late. This casual and lethal approach to governance will supposedly be blamed on KANU once more. Where KANU cannot be excused however, is in it’s failure to transform itself into formidable and unified opposition. KANU’s downfall presented it with a prime opportunity to rebuild. It emerges that KANU is just as divided, discordant and in disarray as the ruling NARC coalition. Leadership and politicking in this country have terribly lost direction and the people of Kenya continue to find themselves in the same familiar forsaken state.

NARC seems determined to crown it’s first disastrous year in office with a grand bash under the theme "A New Beginning for a Working Nation." Nothing could be further from the truth as this country continues to slide deeper and deeper into obscurity, ineptitude and inevitable doom. A case in point is the shocking September 2003 revelation by the head of the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA), that a big percentage of high school students had resorted to chewing on a combination of hair gel and ballons to get intoxicated. What it is that could be driving us to such desperate levels is what should be the central concern of this country, and not unnecessary partying.



Michael Mundia Kamau

  "MAU MAU FIGHTERS NOT THE REAL HEROES" - 9th November 2003

                                                                                                               Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                               P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                               00200 City Square
                                                                                                               Nairobi
                                                                                                               Kenya

                                                                                                               9th November 2003

The Managing Editor
Sunday Nation
Nation Media Group
P.O. Box 49010
00100 GPO
Nairobi
Kenya

Dear Sir

RE: "MAU MAU FIGHTERS NOT THE REAL HEROES", LETTER TO THE EDITOR APPEARING IN THE SUNDAY NATION OF 2ND NOVEMBER 2003

My attention is drawn to R.A. Massie-Blomfield's letter titled "Mau Mau fighters not the real heroes", appearing in the Sunday Nation of 2nd November 2003 (http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/02112003/Letters/Letters021120030.html), and take exception to Mr. Blomfield's belated attempt to both potray the Mau Mau movement in a negative light and glorify the fallen British Empire.

In his brief misguided remarks, Mr. Blomfield puts aside a hundred years of historical injustice in the country now known as Kenya and attempts to blacklist a movement that inspired the likes of Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X. By extension, Mr. Blomfield condemns a government that continues to host the privileged white community in Kenya, world renowned intellectuals like Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X who have been instrumental in easing global racial tensions and influencing integration, and the Kenyan nation at large, which held it's breath in May and June of 2003 at the prospect that the long lost one time Mau Mau leader General Stanley Mathenge Mirugi was alive and well.

Mr. Blomfield claims that he loves this country, that we owe Mau Mau nothing, and is of the opinion that the British Empire has no equal in world history in terms of humanity and benign dedication to the welfare of its subjects. These sort of remarks are not helpful at all in healing old wounds and in moulding our fragile country into a nation that encompasses diverse cultures and races. On the 23rd of September 1999 (http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/230999/Letters/Letters5.html), the Nation Media Group was indeed kind enough to publish a letter I wrote to you carrying these very sentiments.

Where was Mr. Bloomfield in the year 1890 when Fredrick Lugard of the Imperial British East Africa Company began harassing the Kikuyu for their women and food ? Where was Mr. Bloomfield in the year 1892 when the British administration kidnapped Kikuyu chief Waiyaki Wa Hinga and buried him alive along the coast of Kenya, for defying Lugard's demands and burning down his fortress ?

Where was Mr. Bloomfield in the year 1905 when the British, determined to build the Kenya-Uganda railway line and reeling from the Nandi resistance, tricked Orkoiyot Koitalel arap Samoei into a meeting for an agreement, where Colonel  Richard Meinertzhagen and his troops callously shot Samoei and killed him during the conference ?

Where was Mr. Bloomfield in the year 1953 when "The Kapenguria six" led by founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta ,were sentenced to jail and hard labour at a stage managed trial presided over by Judge Ransley Thacker, with stage managed witnesses like Rawson Macharia whose false testimony has been an open secret ever since ? In this particular regard, Mr. Bloomfield contradicts himself by stating that "one of the best things the British Government did was to ensure that the Mau Mau rebellion was put down and the country handed over to a lawfully elected government", ignoring the unlawful treatment that the lawfully elected government was subjected to.

Race relations are still a sensitive, hostile and unaddressed feature of Kenya today. Very little effort has been made at fostering lasting integration, which has invariably led to the divergent moulding of three distinct races in Kenya : African, Asian and Caucasian. Though the roots of this are historical, no effort has been made to re-write history. The move towards evolving an intergrative nation representative of our different backgrounds, will contribute to all of us "loving" this country as Mr. Bloomfield puts it, rather than misguided sectarian attacks.

The White and Asian communities are still privileged and protected communities in Kenya, thanks to the patronage of the "lawfully elected governments" of Presidents Kenyatta and Moi as Mr. Bloomfield would put it. The two communities have not been targets of ill-conceived schemes by the likes of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Idi Amin in Uganda or George Speight in Fiji. The white community continues to own expansive tracts of land across the country when this country is faced with a crippling land crisis, which Mr. Bloomfield is taking for granted.

All of us in this country have a duty and responsibility to address this and other crucial aspects of our history, such as those raised by Mr. Bloomfield, in a sane and objective manner. It is from here that the healing process can begin. Attempts to re-create the fallen and detested British Empire will only compound our problems. So many old and painful wounds remain unhealed and untreated, as this country embarks on and embraces a third generation of leadership.

We need to stop taking this country and ourselves for granted and firmly set foot on the road to recovery, healing and sanity. This road more than the road to the visa offices of the U.S. Embassy and British High Commission, is what holds the key to our future.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                     AFTER 12.30 - 25th October 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              25th October 2003

                                                      AFTER 12.30

It was interesting to see how former President Moi was warmly and wildly applauded at this year's Kenyatta day celebrations on 20th October 2003. It was as much  appreciation for Daniel arap Moi's long and useful legacy to this country, as it was spite at the current regime over frustrated expectations. Either way, President Moi was deserving of this show of acclaim.

This is not the first time that President Moi has been accorded such warm shows of acknowledgement in his brief ten months of retirement. On March 22nd 2003, Moi was greeted with chants of "Nyayo !", "Nyayo !", at the burial of the wife of former Democratic Party (DP), strongman, Hon. Njenga Karume ; On August 15th 2003, Moi was also cheered at the burial of veteran freedom fighter, educationist and administrator, Dr. Julius Gikonyo Kiano ; One week later on August 22nd 2003 at Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's memorial service, Moi quickly ducked a crowd that insisted that he address them ; One week later in Nakuru on August 29th 2003, Moi was not so lucky when an adamant crowd chanting "Bado tunakupenda" (we still love you) and "tupe mawaidha" (give us advice), prevailed upon him to address them.

All the above incidents are in sharp contrast to the humiliating manner that Moi was bid farewell ten months ago on 30th December 2002. It appears that it is dawning on a Nation that it acted in haste, emotion and misjudgement during the general elections. 20th October 2003 was a poll of resounding magnitude for the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) and the legendary Daniel arap Moi.

Disenchantment runs deep. NARC is failing miserably in it's endeavour to transform itself into a movement that will bring change to this country. NARC continues to renege on just about all of it's election pledges. It is however less difficult to forgive unfulfilled promises, than it is to forgive inaction. No effort is being made by the government to explain and remedy broken promises. In place, the country continues to wallow in misery. The government is turning a blind eye to the crippling problems facing this country with the hope that they shall sort themselves out.

The leading local carrier Kenya Airways announced plans to lay off 900 plus of it's labour force at a time when the government is expected to be generating employment. A police helicopter fitted with a powerful floodlight has been doing night flights around the city of Nairobi in a manner that compares to an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie, while crime on the ground continues unabated. A batch of special bonds worth US $ 32,000,000 contentiously issued by the deposed KANU government last year on 9th December to pay a group of powerful contractors, were quietly listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange on 2nd September 2003, following instructions from the Capital Markets Authority (CMA). Beneficiaries of the US $ 32,000,000 special bonds include contentious firms that Energy minister Raila Odinga has labled "Cowboy Contractors". A week later on 9th September 2003, it emerged that the cash strapped Nairobi City Council spent a staggering KShs. 3.7 million (approximately US $ 49,333), on departed Vice-President Michael Wamalwa’s funeral. All civic leaders were given the princely sum of KShs. 42,000 each to cater for their accommodation for two days plus KShs. 3,000 each for their cellphone airtime. On 6th September 1999, then President Moi was severely criticised for retaining 27 ministers and 15 ministries in a then much awaited cabinet reshuffle. On 18th June 2003, President Mwai Kibaki increased his cabinet to 27 ministers with the addition of an old confidante to the cabinet. So where is the goodwill and real change in all this ? In 1996 Yoweri Museveni was elected president of Uganda on the memorable platform of "No Change", which is exactly what the NARC government has done.

What's more is that we should brace ourselves for harsher and sterner change. The mood in town is upbeat given the almost certain announcement of resumption of donor funding on 5th November 2003. What we however appear to have forgotten is that the resumption of donor funding has for many years been pegged to amongst other things,  a major reduction of fiscal expenditure, part of which includes a major reduction of the bloated civil and civic workforces, the privatisation of key state corporations such as the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited, and the Kenya Railways Corporation, and the general liberalisation of the economy to allow for more entrants and wider participation. For the first time since the introduction of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN), ten years ago for instance, the government this year enforced a tax return by all legible individuals, as a prelude to widening the tax collection bracket in line with IMF and World Bank demands. Africa is the last frontier, and these are just measures to further entrench geo-economics. Many of the implications are going to be painful to a Nation that is struggling with it's self-awareness. The NARC government does not at all appear to be preparing the public for this milestone, and this is unforgivable.

This is all the more reason that NARC needs to quickly transform itself into a movement and move around the country creating renewed hope and entrenching change. There is so little time to accomplish the monumental tasks at hand. The president must lead by example and must not be seen to be detaching himself at State House, Nairobi. If the president and NARC found it in the themselves to traverse the length and breadth of this country preaching pre-election anti-KANU sentiments, they most certainly must find it within themselves to traverse the entire country once again and for all, preaching pro-NARC and pro-change sentiments. How can the people of this country suddenly lose value overnight ?

Whatever the circumstances however, Daniel arap Moi is not likely to make a comeback. He is now basking in the glory of a retired elder statesman. It was unimaginable that Daniel arap Moi would one day be spoken of in the same breath as Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere, but this is now proudly the case. Daniel arap Moi had inaccurately been compared to Robert Mugabe, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Milton Obote, Siad Barre, Mobutu Sese Seko, Kamuzu Banda and Jean Bedel Bokassa. 20th October 2003 was a well deserved tribute that must have also taken Daniel arap Moi  himself aback. It is unlikely that Moi's legendary patience contains the rather menial figure of 10 months. 20th October 2003 proved for one and all that there is life after 12.30 i.e. December 30th 2002. Daniel arap Moi has made his peace............the question is, have the rest of us ?



Michael Mundia Kamau

                    NEWS SHOT - 20th September 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              20th September 2003

The Chief Executive
Baraza Limited
P.O. Box 56985
Nairobi
Kenya

                                                    NEWS SHOT

This letter is written in appreciation of "News Shot", the Kenya Television Network's (KTN) premiere review of the week's main political events aired on the Friday evening news at 9.00 p.m. It is a timely and innovative move on KTN's part, coming at a time when leadership in this country is taking a back seat at the expense of politics.

Emmanuel Juma and the News Shot crew are setting new and very high standards in political journalism in this country when it is needed most. It is amazing how the News Shot crew is able to piece together the week's main political events, draw parallels, draw from precedents and spice up the brief segment with satire, cynicism and rib cracking humour and sarcasm. It is interesting how something so involving can be made to look so easy.

Politics made easy is what KTN has branched into, to the benefit, pleasure and delight of the public. KTN is breaking down and simplifying politics in Kenya, making it possible to understand and decipher matters of National importance much more easily. Numerous issues have been covered in News Shot to date, all of which have succeeded in exposing Kenyan politics as two faced and self-centred.

The segment on the Hon. Koigi wa Wamwere and his association with the banned Mungiki sect on Friday, 19th September 2003, for instance, is a classic depiction of the total disregard and contempt that Kenyan politicians have for morals, and good governance in general. Legend has it that former Uganda president Milton Obote trashed the Ugandan constitution before his troops stormed the Kabaka's palace, terming Uganda's constitution "a mere piece of paper". Milton Obote with that action, it is said, threw Uganda as a whole into the waste paper basket. The reckless actions that Kenyan politicians are engaging in, are a prelude to Kenya being thrown into the waste paper basket as well, and KTN must be commended for sparing no effort to expose this. The "hard tackling" referred to by the Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri is of no value to the people of this country.

KTN has made it possible for Friday evening to be looked forward to. Since it's inception and for 14 years now, KTN has boldly led the way in innovative media reporting in this country. This tradition must be maintained. KTN has never shyed away from controversy and it is from this that it's following has been built. We had become accustomed to drab pro-establishment broadcasts, but KTN changed this with hard hitting journalism. KTN established a tradition of being firm, hard, fair, within the rules, and above the belt. This put it on the collison course with the establishment and at times it appeared that the broadcasting house would be shut down.

KTN's commitment to professionalism and detail have made it a cradle of sorts in career advancement. Some of those who have worked at the station include Joseph Warungu, Editor of the BBC's flagship programmes Focus on Africa and Network Africa, Zain Verjee, an anchor for CNN International (CNNI) based at the network's global headquarters in Atlanta, Jeff Koinange, CNN's bureau chief in Lagos, where he is responsible for co-ordinating all news output from West Africa and also for covering events from throughout the rest of the African continent, and Isaiah Kabira, Director of the Presidential Press Service (PPS), in Kenya.

KTN is good for this country and is playing a vital role in the crucial transition that we are undergoing. This transition involves those of us at home and the vast numbers of Kenyans abroad, which is why it is necessary for KTN to now have a fully fledged website on the internet. This will enable Kenyans abroad to share in the value of News Shot, and KTN as a whole. Keep up the good work.

Emmanuel Juma for Prime Minister, Executive Prime Minister !


Michael Mundia Kamau

                  SAIF SAAEED SHAHEEN - 31st August 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              31st August 2003


                                               SAIF SAAEED SHAHEEN

Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar (formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya ), made history on 26th August 2003, by winning the gold medal in the 3000 metres steeplechase final at the  9th World Athletics Championship in France, and in so doing, winning Qatar’s first ever World championship medal. What would have been a Kenyan gold medal for the taking, became a Qatari gold medal for the making.

Saif Saeed Shaheen’s high profile defection and accomplishment, is bound to prompt several other Kenyan athletes to make similar choices. The list as it already stands is alarming and growing. In addition to Shaheen, there is his compatriot, Ahmad Abdullah Hassan (formerly Albert Chepkurui), Wilson Kipketer of Denmark and Wilson Kirwa of Finland. The need to institute direction in Kenyan athletics and reverse this disturbing trend, is critical. Athletics is a source of great pride to this country and just about all that this country appears to have left. We should have presided over it’s growth as a National treasure and institution, but have instead presided over it’s decay.

Kenya’s disastrous outing at the 2003 World Athletics Championship is a culmination of years of sporting mismanagement in this country. We ought to have learned from our equally lacklustre outing at the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, but didn’t. At both events, Ethiopia easily triumphed over us, raising serious doubts about the pole position we have held in athletics in Africa for several years. One is bound to question if our dominance would have been the same over the past 40 years had not Ethiopia suffered years of misrule under Emperor Haile Selassie and later, Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam.

This country by now ought to have had a fully fledged world renowned athletics institute patronised by many the world over. This country by now ought to have had an attractive package for athletes, present and retired, similar to that currently enjoyed by our members of parliament. This country by now ought to have had full scholarship programmes for outstanding athletes, starting from our elementary schools and running all the way up to our tertiary institutions. Anywhere in the world that a Kenyan goes, he or she, is likely to be asked whether they can run, a distinction that is fast moving to our Ethiopian neighbours.

Saif Saeed Shaheen, Ahmad Abdullah Hassan, Wilson Kipketer and Wilson Kirwa, among others, were certainly aware of these serious lapses and it must have been what made them defect. For instance, it is said that Saif Saeed Shaheen is guaranteed a monthly salary of US $ 1,000 from this day on until his demise, which is the kind of salary earned by only a select few in Kenya today, and the kind of pension in Kenya received only by retired senior managers, retired senior executives, retired senior civil servants and retired parliamentarians. Saif Saeed Shaheen is not likely to have been either in Kenya’s current constricted condition. The grim reality is that the wife and children need to be catered for and the rent needs to be paid, a grim reality that a Nation has failed to address for the the past forty years.

It has not been all bad. Legendary Kenyan athlete Kipchoge Keino, is today the Chairman of the prestigious National Olympic Committee of Kenya (N.O.C.K.). This is a befitting reward for the National icon that Kipchoge Keino is, a man who brought so much pride and honour to this country. I was one of those who grew up being encouraged to ”run like Kipchoge Keino” (”Kimbia kama Kipchoge Keino”, we used to be told in those days”). In the same token, Kenyan marathon star Paul Tergat is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nation's World Food Programme whose assignments take him all the way to the White House. In stark contrast however, Naftali Temu, the first athlete to win an Olympic Gold for Kenya, died a forlorn death on 10th March 2003 at the Kenyatta National Hospital. Temu’s desperate situation was salvaged by the waiving of his medical bill by the government. Ben Jipcho, silver medallist in the 3000 metres steeplechase at 1972 Munich Olympic games, was profiled in the media a number of years back as a groundsman at the grand Moi International Sports Complex in Nairobi. The very fine line between prosperity and despair in Kenyan athletics is clearly apparent. Unfortunately, most athletes end up in the latter category, after dutiful service to an unappreciative Nation.

Athletics in Kenya today should be what baseball is to America, soccer is to Brazil, boxing is to Cuba, and rugby is to New Zealand, but it is instead a conduit for individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of the sport. And enrich ourselves we do. Sports officials in Kenya enjoy some of the best standards of living, and there is a need for a revolution in Kenyan sport if there is to be meaningful change.We should be at the stage where we comfortably win 12 to 15 gold medals at any major world event because we have the potential, potential that is wasting away. This translates into global careers for several hundred of our sportsmen and sportswomen, revenue and goodwill from proteges the world over, and revenue and goodwill from tourism in general. Opportunities are staring us in the face as we desert our country for menial careers in the the west, middle east and far east.

The irony of sport in Kenya is that it has never lacked support. A profound and lasting statement of this was made by our founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta before he died on 22nd August 1978. Mzee Kenyatta had a premonition of his death and that is partly the reason he gathered his large family for a final meeting in Mombasa on 14th August 1978. On the day before he died, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, found it in him to host the triumphant Kenyan contingent just arrived from the 1978 Commonwealth games held in Edmonton, Canada. Many remember how cheerful and energetic Kenyatta was on that memorable day, which concerned those aware of his ill-health. Kenyatta in a most powerful and final way, made a final statement and wish for the country that he loved so much.

Our second president, Daniel arap Moi continued with this tradition in the 1980s especially, when he would attend crucial continental soccer meets with his then trademark white stetson. Our third and newly elected president, Mwai Kibaki, looks intent on maintaining this tradition. President Kibaki was present when Kenya beat Cape Verde on 5th July 2003 to qualify for the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament, after a ten year Kenyan absence from the tournament. So where is the problem ?

The problem is with us the people. We are the ones who have failed to lend our support and goodwill to sport in Kenya. It is impossible to build the required structures without public goodwill and support. Saif Saeed Shaheen, Ahmad Abdullah Hassan, Wilson Kipketer and Wilson Kirwa may have betrayed their country for forty pieces of silver, though no more than the rest of us. It is depressing to note the ease with which we have let the Manchester United / Arsenal craze take root in this country. What are these teams and what do they mean to this country ? Why don’t we support local soccer and sport with the same frenzied passion ? I pay tribute to the European soccer leagues which Manchester United and Arsenal are part of, to the extent that they have considerably helped to improve African soccer standards, through the numerous African players that play in them. We should however be applying pressure on the Kenya Football Federation (KFF), to create opportunities for Kenyan soccer players in the European soccer leagues, as is the case with Cameroon, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa, in place of our continued zombie-like support for Manchester United and Arsenal.

The game of pool can also be regarded as another sport that has taken root in this country with remarkable speed over the past six years. There is no real value that pool is adding to this country, but if you want to be regarded as somebody in this country, it would be safe to learn how to play pool. It’s amazing how desperate a people we are inspite of all it is that we claim to be. There is no shortage of crowding and queues in this country. There are queues at all banks, queues at public phone booths, queues to purchase air time for our cell phones and queues in cyber cafes. One would imagine that this is a very prosperous Nation, what with all the money transactions and communication that take place. This country however, is still in dire straits with limited indications of improvement in the near future. The one place where the queues and crowding are lacking and where they are crucially needed, is in the development of sport in this country.



Michael Mundia Kamau

                     NARCOTICS - 17th August 2003

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                              00200 City Square
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              17th August 2003

                                                         NARCOTICS

Kenya marks the 25th anniversary of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's death on 22nd August 2003 in a unique three pronged fusion. It is the day in 1978 that Mzee Kenyatta passed away, the very same day in 1978 that former Daniel arap Moi ascended to the presidency, and the day in 2003 that the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), gets to preside over this important day in Kenya's history for the first time.

It will be interesting to see how the NARC government marks the commemoration given the romanticism with the Kenyatta era it has shown so far. For instance, the Central Bank of Kenya has released currency notes bearing Kenyatta's potrait in a purported to save the cost of printing new currency notes. The absurd thing about this move is that brand new currency notes with Kenyatta's potriat have been printed for denominations that belong to the Moi era. When President Kibaki toured Mombasa earlier this year he was criticised by certain coast members of parliament for being entertained by primary school children late into the night, reminiscent of the Kenyatta era. The 22nd of August 2003 nevertheless is an ideal opportunity to do a critique on the three eras that will be fused together on that day.

It has been eight months since the NARC took over power in Kenya in dramatic albeit smooth transition. It is a moment whose significance we cannot fully appreciate this early in NARC’s reign, but which will sink in with time. I was so convinced that the Kenya African National Union (KANU), would romp to victory in December 2002, and even went ahead to put it in writing (see http://kenyapage.net/letters/uncle-dan.html). Everything that there was to go by from experience pointed to a KANU victory. The years 1992 and 1997 were two pre-eminent examples. The events of 2002 in themselves also reeked of a plot to keep KANU in power : the merger of KANU and Raila Odinga’s National Development Party (NDP), the re-deployment of District Commissioners thought to be sympathetic to the then opposition, the setting of election day as Friday, 27th December 2002 smack in the middle of the Christmas holidays when many Kenyans travel upcountry, the premature proroguing of parliament and subsequent dissolution of the Constitutional Review Conference, reports of widespread buying of voters’ cards, the delay in printing and delivery of ballot papers and the refusal by the then government to order for transparent ballot boxes, the sacking of Cabinet Ministers and Assistant Ministers, top amongst them Vice-President, George Saitoti, who rebelled against President Moi’s choice of successor, President Moi’s own son Gideon Moi being elected unopposed to his father’s Baringo Central seat after his opponents stood down, the last minute use of government securities to pay off contractors aligned to the then KANU government, and last minute key appointments of KANU loyalists to head state corporations and foreign missions.

An opinion poll that indicated that NARC would romp to a landslide victory in the 2002 general election could not be taken seriously because a similar poll conducted before the 1992 general elections showed that President Mwai Kibaki, then a presidential candidate on the Democratic Party ticket, would win the presidential elections of that year.

KANU fully deserved what it got especially as details of the 2002 general election continue to emerge. But this is as far as it goes so far : the 2002 general elections was more about KANU’s loss than NARC’s victory and this applies as much to the 3,646,277 people who voted for President Mwai Kibaki, as it does to the 1,835,890 people that voted for Uhuru Kenyatta.

NARC was borne out of bitterness and frustration from personal failings, rather than a movement to bring about change in Kenya. This is the delicate reality that President Kibaki and his government must deal with when approaching matters of governance. It appears that this is the primary reason that President Moi chose to relinquish power in the manner that he did, realising that the system he had inherited from Mzee Kenyatta and that he had presided over for 24 years, had grown out of control and become unmanageable

Daniel arap Moi cannot escape blame for the ills that have bedevilled this country for the past several years, but neither can Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, and the rest of us. For every Kenyatta Day, there is a Moi Day, for every Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, there is a Moi International Airport, for every Kenyatta High School, there is a Moi High School, and for every Kenyatta Stadium, there is a Moi stadium. It beats logic therefore to attempt to erase Moi’s legacy and at the same resurrect Kenyatta’s through the use of currency notes, for instance. If this country owes Mzee Jomo Kenyatta alot, it owes Daniel Toroitich arap Moi just as much.

The distasteful manner in which NARC and the rest of us chose to bid farewell to Daniel arap Moi on the 30th of December 2002, shall live to haunt us. Here was a man who kept this country going not for 24 years, but for 35 years, because he could have chosen to align himself with forces opposed to President Kenyatta. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, present at the December 30th 2002 swearing in ceremony knew this, and it must have been what prompted him to take the unusual step of silencing the crowd, “Nyamazeni !” ( ”Be silent” !). Newly sworn in President Kibaki himself unfortunately did not deem it fit to pay tribute to the man whose rule had enabled him to become president. Daniel arap Moi could have chosen to be like President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and alter the constitution in his favour, but didn’t.

Many would be quick to point out that had he done this he would have been met full strength with the people’s wrath and would have eventually suffered the fate Liberia’s Charles Taylor did this past week. Daniel arap Moi is no such reckless individual and even if he were, he would have been met with feeble resistance. So early into NARC’s reign, we are waning on our commitment to bring change to this country.
At the beginning of this year, the public took it upon itself to stamp out corruption by confronting it head on. Incidents of Traffic policemen being apprehended by members of the public for allegedly soliciting bribes from Public Service Vehicles for instance, were widespread, and for a brief fleeting moment, we were finally on the right track. “Cops” have however long reverted to their bad old ways with patrols openly harassing, intimidating and soliciting bribes from members of the public.

If Daniel arap Moi was the impediment that stood in the way of change in Kenya, then we would have by now made miraculous progress. The vicious manner in which we hounded him out of office was totally uncalled for. He took with the grace and patience that has defined his life, the grace and patience that is both his gift and curse. His gift in that it has built him into what he is today, and his curse because of the extreme provocation and nonsense he has had to endure all these years, including 30th December 2002.
It appears that Daniel arap Moi made a definite decision to relinquish power a long time back. His relinquishing of power on 30th December 2002 and events over the past eight months should prompt a wide revision of history books and his era in particular. I was one of those who for many years viewed Moi as an incorrigible African despot, bad for Africa and Kenya in particular. For many years also, I contemptuously dismissed the view that Moi was a well-intentioned individual, and that it was those around him that were a menace. My views on these matters have changed drastically over the past eight months.

Moi’s realization that he was dealing with a system that had become incorrigible appears to have dawned on him many years ago. Eight years ago a scandal was reported in the media regarding non-remittance of allowances for the presidential escort, that led to the redeployment of the then Head of the Presidential Escort, and a reshuffle in certain key police positions. Moi was understandably stunned beyond comprehension and is said to have remarked, “You mean I am being guarded by hungry people ?!” The perpetrators of such acts were Moi’s trusted aides, men whose careers he had accelerated, and this deadly lack of responsibility and commitment must have been of great concern to Moi. The scandal where individuals close to Moi allocated themselves large tracts of the Mt. Kenya forest under the deception that it was for legitimate use by a foreign based reputable organization that had met all laid conditions, also comes to mind. Moi gave his signed authority, revoked it after the scandal broke, but was no less pained.

The lack of appreciation appears to have extended to unexpected quarters. In his semi-satirical, semi-serious comic column of 4th January 2003, leading Kenyan cartoonist “Maddo” of the “East African Standard”, quotes Moi as saying “But I am not a candidate” in response to an election request for money from Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Uhuru Kenyatta’s wealthy mother and keeper of Mzee Kenyatta’s vast estate.
O
n the 12th of January 2003 the East African Standard through it’s “Sunday Standard” paper carried an extensive and informative feature on “Moi’s final days in State House”. Some of the things reported were very alarming and a sure indicator that KANU had just about lost direction completely. It is reported that two Cabinet Ministers visited Moi at his private Kabarak residence on Christmas eve 2002, and three days before the general election, no doubt to beg for funds. Moi is quoted as asking them who it is that was campaigning for them in their absence at this crucial time ! This is no doubt admission on even Moi’s part, that KANU was in turbulent waters. The “Sunday Standard” account also revealed how a self-proclaimed KANU activist paid Moi a similar desperate visit on the same day and how a sublimely confident Kenyatta camp had even started making arrangements for the change of curtains at State House, Nairobi !

Legend has it that for several years Moi implored those around him and especially those from his Kalenjin community, to make use of the opportunities they had to build a sound base. It is said that he staked his personal career and that of his government to extend favours to individuals who abandoned him in his hour of need. Kenyatta also suffered the same fate and one notes a striking similarity in the two men and their careers. Legend has it that a powerful Cabinet Minister during Kenyatta’s time once held up an entire Kenyan delegation  ready to return home, as he was holed up with a woman an exclusive suite of a prestigious New York Hotel. Kenyatta certainly got to hear of such incidents, and was greatly displeased. Legend also has it that despite propping up several individuals to fame and fortune, the two people that Kenyatta could rely on to be reached at short notice, were Daniel arap Moi himself, and former powerful Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, which certainly endeared him to the two men. This is probably what kept Kenyatta working to the last day. Legend has it that Kenyatta asked about the whereabouts of his former powerful Minister of State, Mbiyu Koinange, just before he passed way in the early hours of Tuesday, 22nd August 1978. Kenyatta asking for a key state operative just before he died, is an indication that Kenyatta worked to the very end.

What was the so called “Project Uhuru” therefore ? One can safely say that it was a decoy to facilitate the smooth exit of Daniel arap Moi from power and relocation to the less strenuous fringes of public life, and the launching pad of the political careers of both his son and that of his former boss, comrade and friend, scions to two vast and wealthy empires. Apart from incumbency, Moi did not put any real input into the just concluded general election and 1,835,890 votes is therefore a huge credit for Uhuru Kenyatta. It turns out that Moi’s threat of “making the opposition tremble”, was a ploy of a larger well planned scheme. The end was however bitter for many of the 1,835,890 people who voted for Uhuru Kenyatta, and especially the small pocket around former President Moi. I at first thought that the media was exaggerating when it reported that highly placed individuals weeped openly as Moi boarded an Air Force helicopter after relinquishing power on 30th December 2002, until I later saw the former powerful Head of the Civil Service weeping on a clip aired on the Kenya Television Network (KTN). These must have been among the individuals who did not heed Moi’s advice over the years.

On Sunday, 16th June 2002 much of Kenya was set ablaze when Senegal beat Sweden through Henri Camara’s golden goal that saw Senegal proceed to the quarter finals of the world’s biggest sporting event, the Soccer World Cup. The spontaneous outpouring of emotion, joy, pride and happiness across the country was something to behold and remember. This was something for Africa, by Africans, for Africans. One would have thought Senegal was Kenya and Kenya was Senegal, as crowds of people jogged around major towns in Kenya chanting “Senegal !”, “Senegal !” One would have thought that Senegal had won the World Cup. A part of Africa had been redeemed by Senegal’s great feat, and there was holding back.

Six and a half months later on Sunday, 29th December 2002, it became clear that then NARC presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki and his NARC party had garnered an unassailable lead against his chief opponent Uhuru Kenyatta and the then ruling party, KANU. Nothing close to what was witnessed on the 16th of June 2002, was however seen on this momentous day on 29th December 2002, save for muted chants of “Rainbow !” This is a clear indication that NARC is not a movement. The people of Kenya felt more passionately for a conquering African soccer team, than it did for it’s own popularly elected government.

The challenge before the democratically elected NARC government therefore, is to mould the fiercely patriotic Nation that Kenyatta and Moi were unable to. Launching a new fleet of buses for the Kenya Bus Services Limited in November 1999, Moi partly said to the crowd present that “Kenya hi, ni Kenya yenu” (“this is your country, and treat it as such”). I take him much more seriously now than I did then. This must form the theme and central drive of the NARC government.

This country appears to have lost all sense of itself. We are today an amorphous and directionless society desparate to fill the gaping voids in our lives. Unfortunately, Daniel arap Moi found himself the target of this vicious and misplaced animosity. Many like myself are beneficiaries of his reign having acquired our education, skills and training during his era, but do not see it that way. If we did not make greater strides, then we have only ourselves to blame. We must take stock of our actions and failures and avoid this repulsive culture that has taken root in this country of blaming imaginary forces.

One of the areas that NARC will encounter difficulty is in the sensitive area of employment. For five years I headed a small family business that I credit with making me who I am today. One of the most difficult, disappointing and unforgivable experiences I encountered in those five years was the perception I got from people that this was dead end career. I could read the disregard from those around me however hard I worked, however professional I tried to be. Those I expected to support me the most supported me the least. The business has since gone under like so many other African businesses in this country, but I am grateful for the experience it gave me. It was a big blow to my beliefs, nevertheless. The 1970s and 1980s were a period when we fondly and proudly saw ourselves and referred to ourselves as “miro” (black). I blame myself and the family for not driving hard enough to keep the business going, but must nevertheless point out that this country has not moulded an image of self pride.Even those with the best paying plum jobs are forever bickering about economic hardship. The word “small” has no place in this country because all of us a “Big men” in a Nation that tortures under the weight of our inflated egos.     

We all ride around in the same expensive vehicles regardless of the neighbourhoods we reside, we all have the same expensive cell phones, we all drink the same alcoholic beverages, expensive or otherwise, and all run into each other at the same brothels. Practically everybody is attending night school nowadays, but the commensurate improvement in proficiency and delivery, is sadly lacking. One would have thought that the added education and training would make us better people, yet we still hurl vicious diatribes at each other for no good reason. This is a country where everybody is somebody and everybody nobody. This is the country that the NARC government inherits and one can only hope that they are aware of this, and are up to the monumental task that lies before them.

We can blame colonialism, Kenyatta or Moi, but we are in a mess that needs correcting. Last year I stood with a friend at the local shopping centre having an informal discussion. Disillusioned with what this country had come to, my friend referred to a time in the near future when things would grind to a halt in this country, when a respected old man in the locality emerged from a local pub and proceeded to urinate smack in the middle of the shopping centre during peak hours. My friend and I stared in shock and disbelief at this spectacle and after it was over my friend remarked to me in the typical blend of Kiswahili and English spoken in this country, “No, infact, hi kitu ime simama !” ( “It has ground to a halt !”).



Michael Mundia Kamau

            LOVE BREWED IN AN AFRICAN POT - 21st July 2003

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             21st July 2003

                                     LOVE BREWED IN AN AFRICAN POT

East meets west, north meets south, 67 plus 28, is the contemporary equation of love. In one stroke Peter Mbugua has acquired a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a godmother, a lover and a friend, and Wambui Otieno, a husband, a wife, a son, a grandson, a brother, a daughter, a grand daughter, a cousin, a nephew, the works.

Peter Mbugua and Wambui Otieno’s wedding is a mixture of absurdity, daring, boldness and recklessness. But this country today can be described in as many ways, so the wedding of the year fits appropriately into the script. A finger pointed at Mbugua and Wambui is a finger pointed right back at ourselves.  A pat on the back for Mbugua and Wambui is a pat on the back for ourselves. Wambui Otieno and Peter Mbugua have done us the good tiding of dusting the mirror on the wall, and gone the extra mile of washing the dirty linen in public.

Yes, this is one occasion where dirty linen needs to be washed in public for a nation to heal itself. The revelations being made are curious and an indication that we are dealing with a much bigger problem than we care to realise. In exasperation, for instance, Wambui declared that there are several middle aged and older women with live-in “boy” companions. A women’s lobby referred to it as “thousands”. Wambui went on further to state that at least she had the decency to wed an individual over the age of eighteen years, unlike many prominent women who had boyfriends under the age of eighteen years ! My! My!

I do not why we even try to pretend anymore that we are a God fearing, upright, moral, just, and conservative society. The “thousands” being referred to above probably never fail to attend church every Sunday. Are what we have today churches or cults ?

These cross generational liaisons are a clear indication of the lacking work ethic in a nation that probably needs it now more than at any other time in it’s short history. It’s one thing to want the best in life and work towards it, and an entirely different one to want the best in life and not want to make any real effort towards getting it, which is what we can be described as. These obsession with short cuts is what will ultimately spell the doom of this country. No able bodied young man or woman has any business being a gigolo or mistress, but this is the road we have chosen.

Promiscuity and immorality both in the church and outside is a fact of life in Kenya. The revealing manner in which women dress up leaves no doubt about their intentions. Women’s empowerment should not be about seduction but about induction, dignified induction. Vulgar, obscene, pornographic publications litter the streets of major towns in Kenya today, making nonsense of Attorney General Mathew Guy Muli’s 1985 ban on pornography. It is against this backdrop that Wambui and Mbugua are getting some of their most vehement criticism.

It is also curious to note vehement criticism of Wambui and Mbugua from Wambui’s “single” mother daughter and Mbugua’s “single” mother. The irony here is that Wambui passes as respectable, having been a widow. Wambui’s children are publicly hurling insults at her appearing to have forgotten that if it wasn’t for her, they would not be what they are today ! They had opportunities that Mbugua and many of the rest of us never had, and probably never will. It’s all one big drama unfolding and a country sees it failings of the past 40 years on display. At the back of the stage obviously, is a Pandora’s box begging to be opened. Wambui and Mbugua have opened the floodgates and a number of marriages  similar to theirs will almost certainly follow in the near future, as we re-invent ourselves in the wrong way.

The weekend of 19th and 20th July 2003 will certainly rank as one of the most memorable in Kenya’s history. A Nation reveled in a satirical spectacle and was roundly entertained. This could not have come at a better time given the difficult times and prospects. Many are entertained and laughing. But as we laugh, let us remember the famous phrase in “The Government Inspector” , “ What are you laughing at ?………………. you are laughing at yourselves !




Michael Mundia Kamau

         MPs’ rage over fund is justified - 26th June 2003

                                                                                                               Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                               P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                               00200 City Square
                                                                                                               Nairobi

                                                                                                               26th June 2003

The Editor
East African Standard Limited
P.O. Box 30080
Nairobi

Dear Sir

My attention is drawn to the East African Standard editorial of 26th June 2003 titled
“MPs’ rage over fund is justified”, and while in agreement with your view that the reduction of the Constituency Development fund comes as a drawback, take exception with the rather unkind reference to National Bank of Kenya in the last paragraph.

After an extensive analysis of how the reduction of the Constituency Development fund from KShs. 20,000,000 to a paltry KShs. 2,000,000 , will be more strenuous than beneficial, your editorial concludes thus :

“While other developments are being suspended, billions have been committed to rehabilitating dying institutions like the National Bank of Kenya. Yet the NBK is owed billions of shillings by known borrowers. It would have been wiser to have these people pay up and the cash spent on development.”

The use of NBK to drive home your point is harsh, unjustified and misplaced. For one, NBK is by no means a “dying” bank and has begun to re-emerge strongly after a long and punishing lull. The Management and Staff of NBK fully take credit for this, and it is unfortunate for your editorial not to recognize this.

This has been made possible by extraneous measures such as the increase of the authorized share capital from KShs. 3,000,000,000, to Kshs. 12,000,000,000, by the creation of 1.2 billion non-cumulative preference shares. That the books of NBK were in mess, cannot be in dispute, but neither can the efforts being made
to revive it.

National Bank of Kenya finds itself in the difficult situation it is today largely because of gross mismanagement. Plainly put, NBK was crudely looted by a clique of powerful well connected individuals in the system then, with the connivance of helpless staff who had little or no means to fight the onslaught. The public could have stepped in to fight this evil, but it didn’t, because we partook in the plunder from the fringes. One system plundered, a different one attempts to re-build.

Secondly, your editorial is wrong in referring to the government’s injection of funds as “rehabilitation”, as the government is paying back money borrowed from NBK in the first place. The government is making good it’s debt to NBK in the same way that it recently did to teachers.

The term “rehabilitation” is better used when looked at in the context of Finance Minister David Mwiraria’s budget day swipe at the banking sector, and the announcement of measures aimed at curbing excesses in the industry. These are measures that certainly pass as “rehabilitative”

In another measure to “rehabilitate” the banking sector, the Finance Minister announced a reduction of the cash ratio from 8% to 6%, and significantly reduced the paid up share capitals for financial and non-financial institutions. This particular aspect will further help tidy up the books of NBK. The government is also clearly moving way from treasury bills as an expensive financial instrument of public borrowing, and instituted protective measures for depositers by the proposed pegging of interest rates to market parameters.

These are measures geared at creating cheap and accessible credit for the general public as a tool of economic revival and prosperity. We may just be gearing up for an era of fierce competition and entrepreneurship never before seen in this country. Free market policies by far look like what will carry the day in this country.

In such an environment, no one can be dismissed, least of all and in this case, National Bank of Kenya Limited, which has extensive banking experience in this country. Mainstream financial institutions such as Barclays Bank of Kenya Limited, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Limited, Kenya Commercial Bank Limited and National Bank of Kenya Limited, have in a big way already experienced a major exodus by a marginalized and ostracized public. Little effort has been made in recent years to induce and build a retail customer base and this has seen to the growth of several Savings, Credit and Co-operative Organisations (SACCOs), across the country. Where one of the big four should have had a branch, now stand two, three, or even four SACCOs. This country is evolving without us even realizing it.

Thirdly, finally and in direct contradiction of remarks carried in your contentious paragraph, known borrowers appear to have started paying back : this very week your sister media house Kenya Television Network (KTN), carried a segment of how corporate mogul Ketan Somaia had entered into an agreement with NBK over the repayment of a sum of KShs. 14 million he had guaranteed for a borrowing by Block Hotels. Ketan Somaia has agreed to pay the sum owed in monthly installments over a period of time.

It must also be said that the MPs have no moral ground crying foul over the reduction of the Constituency Development fund allocation. It is they that moved with surprising speed to increase their emoluments immediately after the ninth parliament was convened ! It is they who also arm twisted Finance Minister David Mwiraria to prepare supplementary budgetary estimates earlier in the year, to cater for the purchase of Motor Vehicles worth KShs. 3.3 million for each of the 210 members of parliament. This is obscene.

Members of Parliament ought to have set the right tone in the direction this country should now take by moving rapidly to institute the implementation of the Constituency Development fund at the initial recommended amount of KShs. 20,000,000, instead of starting by increasing their salaries. Then we would have taken them seriously.

The headline of the East African Standard which carries the said editorial reads “Ministers in Sugar Scam, say 93 MPs”, a backdrop to an industry on the brink of disaster and staring more than six million people, indeed an entire Nation, in the face. I would be more than gratified to hear that the funds destined for National Bank of Kenya have been redirected to salvage the sugar industry, the civil service, or small scale enterprise, but certainly not the fabled Animal Farm, that is fast manifesting itself in the MPs demands, cries of wolf from the
tourism sector, and protection of lions over and above the Maasai community.


Michael Mundia Kamau

                      UNCLE DAN - 25th December 2002

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 58972
                                                                                                             00200 City Square
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             25th December 2002

                                                       UNCLE DAN

Daniel Toroitich Kapkorios arap Moi's long and illustrious reign as Kenya's president draws to a colourful end in January 2003. The cloud that defied nature makes as graceful an exit as did an entry. The pastoralist who remained sedentary for 24 years, embraces motion once again. So much can and will be said about Daniel arap Moi, a clear statement of his stature and dominance, and an indication that it is not just an individual retiring, but a collusus and institution. A nation pays homage to a career patiently and meticulously built, a journey well travelled.

President Moi is not done however, no doubt the cause of terror, fear and panic to his detractors. Whether in the form of the proposed Moi foundation or otherwise, he will still continue to exert considerable influence in public life. Ranking top amongst his immediate priorities will be the gradual transfer of power and influence to the third generation of Kenyan leaders. The head of the new government is almost certainly going to be President Moi's chosen successor, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. That Moi would have his way was a foregone conclusion a long time ago.

Uhuru Kenyatta has a monumental task ahead of him and he appears to have been working on it. Young , intelligent, wealthy, cosmopolitan and cocky, Uhuru is remarkably fluent in English, Kiswahili, and his native Kikuyu. The majority of Kenyans his age and younger cannot match this, myself included. He has admirable public speaking skills and a good presence. His parents and mentor, Daniel arap Moi, no doubt trained him well. In this regard one notes the deep admiration that Uhuru had for his late father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. He speaks just like him and until very recently kept long hair brushed backwards just like his father, unlike many of the youth today who dress, attempt to behave, and attempt to talk like they were in Manhattan or Detriot. His publicists must have prevailed on him to have a haircut to enhance his image. Most Kenyans nowadays anyway, relate to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as distantly as they do to past legends like Luanda Magere and Laibon Lenana. Uhuru Kenyatta it emerges, has character and is ready to listen and learn. This has become evident over the past four months and are no doubt some of the traits that endeared President Moi to him.

Most definitely, President Moi will move fast to seal loopholes in Uhuru's presidency over the coming six months, courtesy of a crash course in African politics. Working behind the scenes as president emeritus, Moi will ensure that the new government quickly gets a foothold. There will certainly be clumsy and tense moments when Moi and Uhuru will clash during this period, just like Mandela and Mbeki did, but these will be dealt with and kept out of the public eye. Uhuru's presidency, courtesy of Moi of course, shall be further bolstered by the likely resumption of foreign aid to Kenya in the coming year, and a likely visit to Kenya by President George W. Bush of America.

President Moi with his numerous guessing games already has third generation Kenya in motion. He has taken advantage of our vanity and perceived genius to put together a spectacular transition. No one for instance, has given him credit for his decision to retire as scheduled when he had all the potential to rule for another ten years. This is ironic because Moi has long been regarded as an intellectual minnow. Daniel arap Moi is class act, a sophisticated operative if ever there was one. If we cannot draw inspiration from him, then there are absolutely no other quarters we can draw inspiration from. Vanity has driven people mad in this country.

Uhuru's presidency is going to be fast and we should brace ourselves for speed over the coming years. Already the Chinese have a trade centre on prime real estate in Nairobi valued approximately at one million US dollars, with a similar showy China trade complex under construction right next door. Uhuru Kenyatta inherits this and much more. This country and world is changing fast, we just don't realise it. Many will be left behind and the sooner we adapt, the better.


Michael Mundia Kamau

                PRESIDENT WANJIKU - 8th August 2002

                                                                                                          Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                          P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                          00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                          Nairobi
                                                                                                          Kenya

                                                                                                          8th August 2002

                                              PRESIDENT WANJIKU

The stage is being set for the most interesting Kenyan general election since 1963, with the public being treated to continuous drama in the sense that events are not taking the anticipated turn, and in the sense that the leading presidential aspirant is a novice from the former first family that appears headed back to State House. The evening 9 O'Clock news and indeed the dreaded mid-day 1 O'Clock news have lately become a spectacle to watch and listen to, revealing a nation in it's true perspective.

President Daniel arap Moi in another one of his unorthodox moves, takes this country on yet another excursion. The public could however be spared the baseless hue and cry from the president's lieutenants and other pockets of dissent. The three major issues at hand are that President Moi is going against the wishes of the majority by supporting the candidature of Uhuru Kenyatta for president, that Uhuru Kenyatta is young, inexperienced and totally unsuitable for the job, and that there appears a pact to sustain and switch top leadership between two prominent families. None of the three issues or otherwise bear any substance because Uhuru Kenyatta's candidature is representative of how we govern ourselves. The unfolding events in Kenya provide a prime opportunity for us to re-evaluate ourselves which we shall however not take.

This is not the first time President Moi is being unorthodox. This country for instance remained without a vice president for a full fourteen months between 1998 and 1999. President Moi was also behind the well orchestrated and contentious queue voting resolution of 1988. There is no issue here as President Moi is just being himself, who he has always been. The one thing you can be sure about with Daniel arap Moi, is that you cannot be sure.

Secondly, Uhuru Kenyatta's youthfulness and inexperience cannot be made an issue as his is not the first such high profile appointment or candidature. The late Professor Josphat Karanja was appointed vice president in 1988 above much more experienced politicians. Professor George Saitoti, appointed vice president one year later, was himself inexperienced at the time having been an elected parliamentarian for only one year, and after his opponent had been prevailed upon to step down in his favour. These are certainly not the qualities that a vice president should possess and the vice president stands accused of double standards. He is also certainly a beneficiary of the warped system that he now attacks.

Thirdly, the issue of political inheritance is not new to this country and cannot be fronted as an issue. K.A.N.U. Secretary General Hon. Raila Odinga appears to have forgotten that his brother Hon. (Dr.) Oburu Odinga is a direct beneficiary of this, and that he himself by extension, is also a beneficiary of political inheritance. Hon. Musalia Mudavadi also appears to have forgotten that he inherited his father's parliamentary seat when he was very young and inexperienced. Other examples are Hon. Noah Katana Ngala, Hon. Joseph Nyagah, Hon. George Khaniri, Hon. Ngengi Muigai and Hon. Vincent Maitsi.

Hypocrisy and superficial standards are on display and no one can throw the first stone. There never have been standards in Kenya and the self proclaimed Rainbow Coalition is certainly not going to institute them in a record five months. It is interesting for instance, hearing Hon. William ole Ntimama propagating decorum and rationale. Where were these in 1995 when he walked into the Chief Magistrate's court with an army of Maasai morans terrifying both her and the public ? The more crude and least scrupulous a person you are in Kenya, the greater a chance you stand of succeeding.

Secondarily, what we are witnessing in the ruling party is open mutiny and rebellion against the party boss, the placating terms being used to describe it notwithstanding, and something only quite seen once before in Kenya's history. The outcome is something we shall have to await though the insurgents have certainly dug a significant number of political graves. Those defying Chairman Moi are beneficiaries of a system that he has fortified over the past 24 years, and that has now developed a life of it's own. To defy him therefore is to defy an order.

The order that Kenya is today is an impoverished society polarised socially, economically, racially, ethnically, culturally, politically, religously, academically, geographically, intellectually, ethically and morally. Anything goes in Kenya today and the one standard that there is, is that there are no standards.

Alot of hope for change had been placed on the constitutional review process, Wanjiku's constitution as it were. The entire process from it's constitution to it's now near conclusion, has been mired in controversy and irregularity : contentious expensive purchases of luxury vehicles and cell phones, a secret meeting of select commissioners at an exclusive resort, a secret visit of select commissioners to State House, and a chairman without executive authority over his commissioners. The constititutional review commission is infact apt personification of how the system has developed a life of it's own. The public cannot therefore expect anything meaningful out of the Constitutional Review Commission of Kenya, and it should indeed be disbanded in public interest.

Wanjiku's constitution, Wanjiku's presidency, and Wanjiku's country, have once again been wrenched from her hands and put on hold. There is dire need however to increase our efforts towards Wanjiku's presidency and Wanjiku's country as the deprivation and poverty that we live in cannot sustain for very long. The repressive policies implemented by the colonial administration and sustained thereafter by two successive governments in independent Kenya, have developed a life of their own, which should be a pointer to how critical our situation is.


Michael Mundia Kamau

THE CENTRAL BANK OF KENYA (AMENDMENT) ACT 2000 - 21st April 2002

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                              00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              21st April 2002

                           THE CENTRAL BANK OF KENYA (AMENDMENT) ACT 2000

The High Court of Kenya ruling last week in favour of the Central Bank of Kenya (Amendment) Act on interest rate controls, adds another episode to the desperate quest for economic revival in Kenya. The Donde Bill, as the Act is otherwise popularly known, is now set to be re-tabled in parlament for a vote on it's commencement date. The bruising battle is however not over and the Banking sector will most certainly respond with a counter offensive.

Interestingly, the Donde Bill has lacked all along in critical public support and lobbying, yet it is designed to benefit the general public and hypothetically spur economic growth. It is on this basis that we need to question the real extent to which the Bill actually has a bearing on the public. No doubt, cheap and readily accessible credit is as much a factor in deflation and economic growth, as it is in inflation and economic recession. The major reason that the Donde Bill lacks in public support is simply and plainly, poverty. The majority of Kenyans live below the poverty line. Different estimates put it at between 60% and 70%. The figure in real terms could be as high as 80%. Retail banking in this country therefore remains severely underdeveloped and continues to be marginalised as years pass by. A People's bank like the Kenya Commercial Bank requires savers to maintain a minimum balance of 1,000 Kenya shillings at all times, a figure is set to rise to 3,000 Kenya shiilings in June 2002. Just about the whole country is hard pressed and in debt, and can simply not afford the luxury of an idle 1,000 Kenya shillings lying somewhere, let alone 3,000 shillings. Functions for most account holders have been reduced to mainly withdrawals. Banks are mainly making their money from corporate clients and huge government deposits.

The issue in as much as it is high interest rates, is also the gross undevelopment of vibrant financial markets. The Donde Bill thus requires expanded outlook and incorporation. Many Kenyans are marginalised from retail banking and have developed alternative avenues of finance and investment. These are co-operatives, land buying companies and welfare organisations. The latter is where highest activity and following is. Members pay small monthly contributions and fall back on welfare contributions every so often. Welfare organisations are an invaluable mode for small savings, providing relief all across the country. Co-operatives and land buying companies on the other hand are riddled in perennial controversies and clashes, and appear to have a bleak future.

Another powerful interest group consists of small scale businessmen and women variously referred to as the "Mama Mbogas". Their influence and wealth is taken for granted, but it is formidable. Many of us so called progessive types for instance, stay on rental properties constructed and owned by "Mama Mbogas". These are people who can quite easily raise sums of 200,000 Kenya shillings (approx. US $ 2,500), at short notice, even in these difficult economic times. These are individuals whose finances are not however active in the wider financial market due to reasons of either mistrust or lack of proper inducement. The Donde Bill by extension, should be revised to enforce state and private sector support and development of welfare organisations and "Mama Mbogas" as this is where the economic mainstay of this country lies. Sound economic policy papers are not lacking. State sponsored intiatives like Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965 on African Socialism and Sessional Paper No. 1 of 1986 on District Focus on Rural Development are in existence, but dormant and neglected.  What's to say that the Donde Bill will be any different ?

Donde Bill or no Donde Bill, the revival and growth of this economy ultimately lies with the people. It is decisions that we make or do not make that will determine our destiny. Arising out of technical problems for instance, mobile phone provider, Safaricom, recently revealed that it had a base of 440,000 subscribers. This would put the subscriber base of the other mobile phone provider, Kencell, at about 300,000. The cheapest calling card on the market costs 250 Kenya shillings, which means that at any one moment (roughly, three times a month), 555,000,000 Kenya shillings (approx. US $ 6,937,500), is being spent on conversations we can do without. Add to this the time and resources that are are spent on fundraisings for weddings and sending our children abroad inter alia, and it emerges that we do not need the Donde Bill in as much as we need to change our economic ways. So many Kenyans are unnecessarily in financial debt and crisis.

Economic change must also extend to the management of our resources. Money seems to have lost all sense of value in Kenya over the past several years. Prior to the 1997 general election, the deputy leader of government business sought parliamentary allocation of two billion Kenya shillings ( approx. US $ 25,000,000). There is absolutely no way that a Kenyan election of whatever scale can cost that much. In November 1999, A.I.D.S. was officially declared a National disaster at a weekend parliamentary symposium in Kenya 's coastal city of Mombasa that cost 300,000,000 Kenya shillings (approx. US $ 3,750,000). It was amazing to see certain wealthy parliamentarians with distinguished career track records and sound investments, scrumbling for state sponsored flights to Mombasa that they should have been able to pay for themselves. In November last year, the Presidential entourage to America was involved in an accident when the British Airways carrier that they were in, knocked down two flag poles each reportedly costing ten million Kenya shillings (approx. US $ 125,000 each). That we do not seriously question and follow up on such issues is an indictment on our sincerity and integrity in bringing about change to this country.

The Donde Bill therefore is not the single redeeming solution to this country's economic problems. Our situation is more complex and requires much more than the statutory regulation of interest rates. In as much as the Kenya Government has sought and gotten debt relief from the Paris Club, so also should the Donde Bill seek out to facilitate in the short run, as long term solutions are sought.


Michael Mundia Kamau

                       CHAIRMAN MOI - 30th March 2002

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                            00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                            Nairobi
                                                                                                            Kenya

                                                                                                            30th March 2002

                                                  CHAIRMAN MOI

The most significant Kenyan Political event of the year 2002 took place on 18th March 2002 in the form of the historic merger of the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) , and the opposition National Development Party (NDP). The general election, when it comes, will be an endorsement of March 18th 2002. Much more significantly, March 18th 2002, represents the revision of Kenya's political landscape not just for election 2002, but for the next ten to fifteen years. Re-alignments of a very crucial nature have been set in place and shall be solidified over the coming years. Election 2002 and to a large extent 2007, has been decided.

It now appears almost certain that President Daniel arap Moi shall relinquish power as sheduled after the 2002 general elections and settle firmly in his role as chairman of the ruling party. Public speculation for a long time has been that Moi would galvanize a two thirds majority in parliament and change the constitution to allow him extended rule. Judging by the outcome of March 18th 2002 and judging by manoeuvres to extensively increase the powers of the KANU chairman and reduce that of the president, this does not seem likely. It is further instructive that Moi as newly re-elected chairman of KANU, is deputised by four rather nondescript and inconsequential vice chairmen. President Moi is set to preside over the affairs of this country over the coming several years in his role as "Chairman of the Board". Still in good health and still energetic, we are sure to hear and feel the presence of "Sharemani" (a local pronounciation of the word Chairman), over the coming years.

One of the most spectacular casualties of the March 18th 2002 merger was without a doubt Vice President Professor George Saitoti a.k.a George Kinuthia Muthengi. Very few outsiders can credibly claim they saw Saitoti's fall coming, and I'm not one of them. The fact that Moi himself had to publicly shut down his vice president ("kimya professa") , is an indication that all has not been well behind the scenes. It is safe to conclude that Saitoti was being put to a test that he has miserably failed. One very important aspect of African politics is that you should never confront, upstage or humiliate the Big Man in public. George Saitoti did just that on March 18th 2002 and one therefore wonders what atrocities he has been commiting behind the scenes. Daniel arap Moi himself underwent numerous trials as vice president, which he passed : removal of crucial state dockets from his portfolio, checks at road blocks, house searches by the Kenya Police which he was supposed to be head of, slaps from senior police officers he was supposed to be boss of, and occupation of the vice president's official seat by junior state officials / proxies at public functions. In Andrew Morton's "Moi, the making of African Statesman", it is described how delegation upon delegation would be granted audience with President Kenyatta at State House, Nakuru, as vice president Moi waited his turn. As the day drew to a close, Kenyatta would ask the Provincial Commisioner (PC) , whether there was anyone remaining to see him, and the PC would sigh and reply, "Yes, just Moi". Kenyatta would then proceed to address Moi in kikuyu, "a language Moi followed with difficulty", and proceed on to be entertained by kikuyu traditional dancers with Moi by his side. Kenyatta invariably fell asleep half way through the entertainments with Moi still by his side. Welcome to Africa, Professor Saitoti. President Moi appears to be parting ways with his VP of 12 years, the same way he parted ways with his VP of 10 years, 14 years ago. Who therefore is the chosen one ? Who therefore has Moi decided is capable of handling the rigours of African politics ? Only time will tell

Daniel arap Moi in his vintage style,  has moved two steps ahead of time, taking full advantage of our slumber. We had this coming, didn't we ? No one's really been focused on the issues and we are paying the price for this. The fact of the matter is that March 18th 2002, is part culmination of many years of scheming , underhand plotting, and re-aligning. The year 1994 will for instance, be best remembered for extensive de-controls and widespread liberalisation. Exciting new possiblities emerged with the de-regulation of foreign exchange regimes, tight travel guidelines and general enhancement of free market policies. If ever there was a Kenyan dream team , it was that of Hon. Musalia Mudavadi and Micah Cheserem, Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor respectively, in those days. Suddenly, every other Kenyan was making frequent trips to Southern Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and Europe. The good times were here. As we travelled by day, the political establishment met by night at the famed State House boiled maize evening eating sessions, assesing the situation. Eight years down the line, "The Dubai Express" is in heavy debt and reeling in anguish, as the political establishment concorts mergers, and still meets for the famed State House boiled maize evening eating sessions.

Even the severe economic recession that this country is reeling under, has been stage managed to ensure that we are soundly in check and immobilised for present and future years to come. Daniel Arap Moi is a man of action and fully capable of reversing the economic downturn. In the space of two years, he has played host to two US Secretaries of State from both sides of the political divide : Madeleine Albright in October 1999 and Colin Powell in May 2001. If this isn't performance, then I don't know what is. Over the last three years, the US government has been constructing a State of the Art Embassy (read facility), on the outskirts of Nairobi, whose projected cost is two billion Kenya shillings (approx. US $ 25,000,000). The Americans appear intended on a major future presence in this country. It is Daniel arap Moi's regime that has facilitated this, an edifying statement of his importance and effectiveness. Kenya today, and in particular the capital city Nairobi, is like a scene straight out of Antiquity : chaos, discord, corruption, desparation, bribery, uncertainty, insecurity, hustling. It will take about twenty years to get ourselves on the right track and focused, and twenty years is what anyone would want. Far from drawing to a close, the Kenyatta - Moi Axis is further entrenching itself in Kenya.

Prsident Moi has been travelling the globe rather extensively over the past few years in a manner reminiscent of the early years of his presidency. In the early years of his presidency, we would make notes of where he hadn't been to, rather than where he had been to. Then as of now, Moi was building crucial alliances for the future. The difference of course, is that Moi then was forging useful contacts that would solidify his presidency as opposed to now, when he is forging useful contacts that will solidify his life in retirement. Moi has also been warmly hosted by two US presidents from both sides of the political divide over the past two years : Bill Clinton in February 2000 and George Bush in November 2001. Moi indeed looks set for high profile international assignments after retirement, that will rank him alongside Nelson Mandela, Quett Masire and Jerry Rawlings, as a distinguished retired African Statesman. "Baba Mupendwa" ("Our beloved President"), is on a roll.

One of Moi's fortes as always, will be his connectivity with the people. Many fondly remember how he would stop his motorcade in the early years of his presidency to "meet the people". I was party to several such encounters through which Moi moved millions with his humility. At such gatherings , Moi delivered many inspiring talks that spurred Nationalism and Patriotism. The admiration and awe that the public had for Moi in the initial years however turned into hatred and detest. Before the 1992 general election, I was in a group of people that hurled insults and derision at President Moi, telling him that his time was up. The presidential escort was furious but he restrained them, smiling nonchalantly at us. Ten years down the line, most of us that were in the said mob of '92 are on our knees, and even if we wanted to, we cannot re-enact the scene. As recently as  three years ago during his address to the Nation on Kenyatta Day, and at the time of the threatened strike by teachers, he resoundingly displayed this erstwhile humility when he made an appeal to "Waalimu Wenzangu" ("My Fellow Teachers").  At the state opening of parliament this year, Moi took the initiative and trouble to approach, greet and chat up leading opposition figure Hon. James Orengo in a gesture that pleasantly caught many off guard.

He is however watching and observing, from which the chosen successor shall emerge. All the apparently childish gimmicks he has pulling off lately are designed to accomplish a purpose. When he landed in Nairobi from a US trip in November last year and immediately boardeda flight to attend a graduation ceremony at Egerton University, one can be sure he made a careful check of who was with him on the flight to Nakuru, and who opted to take a breather. When he further recently sprung a surprise by changing the check out point for Kenya's delegation to the Commonwealth Summit in Australia  from the Presidential Pavillion to Unit 2 of Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport, one can be sure he carefully noted the response. Kenyatta observed him, now he observes.

One Man's triumph is however the misery of 29,999,999 other Kenyans. Three generations of Kenyans have been lost, and if we are not careful, a fourth one is on it's way. As Moi has moved on, the rest of us have receded. The year 1994 witnessed widespread economic liberalisation in as much as the year 1992 witnessed the institution of widespread press freedoms. It was ecstatic to pubicly read brutal accounts of state misdeeds in the early years of relaxed press controls, especially for those, like myself, who belonged to multiple generations that considered this a far cry. I remember reading "The Africans" in December of 1985 in silent subdued terror, fearful of the dreaded Special Branch, Kenya's version then of Papa Doc's "Tonton Macoutes", and Amin's "State Research Bureau". The novelty of "seditious publications" has however long worn off. The government is aware that that many Kenyans cannot afford twenty Kenya shillings (approx. 25 US cents), on a publication, and even if they did, they're ineffective.

Publications though are very important, as they document events. A number of years back , I was rummaging through old stuff in search of a misplaced document and came across old editions of publications such as "Joe Magazine", "Nairobi Times", "Viva", "Weekly Review", "Drum", "True Love", and "Men Only", and was drawn to an article in "True Love" that reminisced a nasty road accident in Nairobi in 1974, where the purported rescuers looted the victims of valuables. Nothing has really changed in Kenya, it's only gotten worse.

It's only gotten worse because we've been chasing the wrong values. We've never given ourselves a chance and have been continously chasing the White and Asian dream. After de-segregation, many Africans justifiably rushed to put their children in institutions such as Prince of Wales (today's Nairobi School),  Duke of York ( today's Lenana School), Delamare Girls (today's State House Girls High School), and Duke of Gloucester (today's Jamhuri High School). But the White and Asian Nations moved on to Hillcrest School, Rusinga School, Oshwal High School and Aga Khan Academy. We are chasing an elusive dream and it's time to build our dream, the Black Dream.

The epic Devonshire White Paper of 1923 explicitly stated that "Kenya was primarily an African country, in which the interests of the natives were to be held paramount". Many of us natives do not how much we owe Colonial Secretary Devonshire. The Devonshire White Paper, if nothing more, should be the guiding light this Nation. The Deonshire White Paper, like the US first ammendment and Bill of Rights beforehand, must be point of reference in this country's endeavours, otherwise we should revoke it posthumously. Even in this unsettling times and given the proverbial second chance, many of us would still choose to be born Kenyan, regardless of tribe, but Kenyan. That's just how deeply many of us feel for our roots, and just how seriously we are called upon to start addressing the plight of this Nation.

From one of us must and will emerge the epitomy of a Kenyan, proud of his heritage, aware of his past and ready for the future. From us needs to emerge the personification of standards, the future, "Bakenya" ("Patriots"), "Bakulu" ( "Leaders"). From us needs to emerge Kenya.


Michael Mundia Kamau

       General Stanley Mathenge Mirugi - 23rd January 2002

                                                                                                           Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                           P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                           00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                           Nairobi

                                                                                                           23rd January 2002

The Group Managing Editor
East African Standard
P.O. Box 30080
Nairobi

Dear Sir

This letter is written in deepest appreciation for the three part instalment on General Stanley Mathenge Mirugi and the discovery that he is still alive in Ethiopia. The East African Standard and Joseph Karimi have unravelled a mystery and done this country a service beyond even their comprehension and ours. The discovery of  General Mathenge is both joyous and sorrowful. On the one hand it is extremely gratifying to know that a great son of this country is still alive and well, and on the other, it is a stark reflection of how utterly callous, misguided and ungrateful a society we are.

General Mathenge's discovery will certainly spur a great deal of public debate and hopefully reflection. These are greatly troubling times for this country whose roots are are in the injustices and wrongs perpetrated against the likes of General Stanley Mathenge Mirugi. So much media attention is being paid to initiatives like the constitutional review process forgetting that had it not been for the sacrifices of the likes of General Mathenge, there would have been no constitution to review in the first place. It is time to spare a thought for the past without which there is no future

The prognosis on Mau Mau is incomplete and different schools of thought view Mau Mau diffrently. The leadership struggle in Mau Mau itself is also unclear. The East African Standard account has it that General Mathenge deputised Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi while another has it that General Mathenge was toppled as the head of Mau Mau by a more radical leaning faction of Mau Mau led by Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi. However, the fact that the British decalared a state of emergency in 1952 is a pointer to the impact of Mau Mau. The fact that the British brought in the UK based Lancashire Fusiliers, is a pointer to the effect of Mau Mau. The fact that the British carried out massive and expensive bombing sprees over the Aberdares, is a pointer to the force of Mau Mau.

The British intended to grant indepedence to Kenya in 1973, and probably even later. It is not unimaginary that we could have been granted independence at the same time as Zimbabwe in 1980, or even South Africa in 1994, given the docile, accomodating nature of Kenyans. The impact of Mau Mau was however swift and unexpected and forced the British to review their stand regarding Kenya. Whatever extended colonial plans that may have been had were cut short and replaced with neo-colonial ones. When we go about our daily business, we must bear this in mind. When we pride ourselves in the breakthroughs we have made as a Nation, we must bear this in mind. Many of us have gone to school and are able to fit in and adopt in many places in this world. We must pay homage and thanks to those who made this possible. The rot has sunk to unthinkable levels such that no mention or inclusion of General Mathenge is made in Mau Mau suits for compensation against the British government, yet he has been alive all these years.

No one can escape blame for the callous manner in which we have downplayed Mau Mau and the heroic freedom struggle. On December 12th 1963 itself, Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta in the company of the Duke of Edinburgh, snubbed Mau Mau fighters who walked towards him to exchange greetings. No effort whatsoever has been made to recognise the movement and it's contribution to the freedom struggle in this country. Nothing personifies this more than the fact that General Mathenge and others have been kept quietly next door to this country all these years. Nothing personifies this more than the fact that Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi's remains are still buried at Kamiti maximum prison. What kind of a people disowns it's past ? One can safely conclude that one of the pre-conditions for independence was the systematic erasing of Mau Mau and all it stood for

General Mathenge's discovery and his response clearly manifests the noble ideals that Mau Mau stood for. No wonder Mau Mau has been trampled on so, because their ideals have no place in present day Kenya. One definitely reads embitterment in General Mathenge's detached manner, embitterment with a society that they sacrificed so much for, and that has turned it's back on them. One also notes a very refined sense of ideals and principle. We have not once heard General Mathenge raise issue or cry foul all these years. He has gracefully accepted that they were betrayed and opted for quiet retirement. He is not like so many Kenyan politicians who are demanding rewards for their role in the so called second liberation. Mau Mau stood for something which was fullfilled, though not quite in the anticipated way.

General Mathenge should be allowed to live in quiet retirement in his new found life and beloved family. Plans to bring him back home are premature and misguided. General Mathenge is a wounded man who may never heal. All of us have betrayed him and must pay the price. Any attempt to get the truth out of him must be approached with utmost caution without unsettling the delicate balance of his life and family. He can only be requested to talk willingly and only willingly, beyond which a hasty retreat must be made.  General Mathenge is an old man incapable of supporting undue stress and strain. We appear to have murdered a freedom movement and must not extend this to a gracious old man


Michael Mundia Kamau

             Jaramogi Oginga Odinga - 20th January 2002

                                                                                                            Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                            P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                            00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                            Nairobi

                                                                                                            20th January 2002

The Editor
East African Standard
P.O. Box 300080
Nairobi

Dear Sir

I read with great interest your timely 8th year commemorative feature on the passing away of legendary Kenyan leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga

It was particularly gratifying to note the efforts that have been taken to preserve the rich Dhuluo heritage alongside Jaramogi's illustrious legacy. Key in this regard are the inclusion of key Dhuluo legendary figures such as Gor Mahia and Luanda Magere in Jaramogi's museum. Importantly not forgotten also, are the standard uniform/colours of the Kenya People's Union (KPU), Jaramogi's brainchild.

It is pointed out in your feature that Jaramogi's key speeches both locally and abroad are preserved on video cassettes, and this is certainly a point of public interest, as I am one amongst several who would want to purchase a copy of the same. A number of years back I disappointingly tried to purchase a copy of "End of Empire" a feature on Kenya's road to independence from Granada Television of the UK, and abandoned the undertaking realising it would cost me the equivalent of about 15,000 Kenya Shillings to obtain the video cassette, in addition to several other displeasing conditions ! Our own heritage should not cost that much to obatain and I trust that Jaramogi's family has factored this in.

This country owes Jaramogi Oginga Odinga alot for his role in the struggle for independence and a just society. This came at a high cost as pointed out in your feature. For us to turn back our backs on this country's hereos, is to turn our backs on ourselves. If Jaramogi is nothing, then so are we.

One of his widows Betty, correctly points out that Jaramogi was in a class of his own. Over the last nine years I have had occasion to view some of Jaramogi's key speeches, courtesy of the Kenya National Archives. What emerges amongst other things, is a brillliant eloquent orator with powerful delivery, focus and substance in his stand. That Jaramogi was ahead of his time is not in dispute. That Jaramogi's famous clash with Mzee Kenyatta in 1969 was key in regulating the excesses of the regime then, is also not in dispute.

Every effort must be taken to preserve the legacy of Jaramogi and all our other founding fathers. If we abandon this undertaking, then we abandon ourselves, and must face the consequences. Tom Mboya's mausoleum is in disarray and this truly regrettable considering his equally huge contribution to this country's history. Indeed, the same would have applied to Mzee Kenyatta's and Jaramogi's mausoleums respectively, were it not for their wealthy and powerful families.

It is crucial that we give consideration to these neglected facets of our heritage.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Mundia Kamau

                    Annus Horribilis - 17th December 2001

                                                                                                             Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                             P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                             00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                             Nairobi
                                                                                                             Kenya

                                                                                                             17th December 2001

                                                        Annus Horribilis

The year draws to an agonising close with next to no enthusiasm for the coming year and the stark realisation that it will get worse. The socio-political and economic ravages of this past year have left us a great deal more disjointed and less focused on any meaningful objectives. In line with tradition at this time of the year, there will be countrywide calls for renewed vigour from political, religious, business and community leaders, directed at an indifferent and impassive society. Almost all Kenyans have lost faith in the system and in ourselves, and the real challenge is to re-gain back our badly brutalised self-esteem and self-worth.

This Nation continues to fall apart and nothing in Kenya seems to make sense anymore. This point was driven home to me at a personal level a few weeks back when I was up late at night and happened to switch on the television as Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), was closing down transmission. KBC traditionally plays the National Anthem when opening and concluding the day's transmission, and it hit me how I no longer even knew the six verses (three Kiswahili, three English), of the National Anthem, and less even, the National Pledgeof Loyalty. Earlier this year further, a public procession in Mombasa led by government officials was photographed with the Kenyan flag hoisted upside down. In the depiction of Frantz Fanon, a Nation is assessed by such measures.

A third and crucial eye opener in the year 2001 was the controversy surrounding independence hero Kisoi Munyao's inability to foot his bill at Kenyatta National Hospital and his bail out. A curious debate on how the country had forsaken it's heros ensued. The debate however forgot to highlight one crucial detail. Several Kenyans have pin-ups of role models. If these pin-ups are are anything to go by in terms of our standing as a Nation, then we don't have a Nation, and at best, constitute an assembly of persons. The pin-ups largely comprise Bruce Lee, Mike Tyson, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jnr. , Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Muammar Qaddafi, Boyz II Men, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Diana, Princess of Wales, Tupac Shakur, R Kelly, Koffi Olomide, Wenge Musica, Brenda Fasie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Don Williams, Michael Bolton, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Sir Alex Ferguson and Zinedine Zidane. For good measure, arising out of the just subsided bloodshed in the slums of Kibera, an individual fleeing the clashes was photographed donning a t-shirt of deceased American rapper, Tupac Shakur. If one really wants to what is happening in Kenya, the places to go are the slums and downtown areas, and not Kenyatta avenue, Digo road, Nkrumah road or Oginga Odinga street.

The hardships that continue to be faced in this country are a culmination of years and years of mismanagement and lack of proper planning. Many of us have been born and thrust into a world that teaches and trains us to expend the least and expect the most : no room here for John F. Kennedy's famous call, "ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your country". John F. Kennedy's timely call must infact form the basis of recovery for this Nation.

There was a time several years ago when many of the values we still cling on to dearly made sense. Formal training and education for instance, ensured that one secured a comfortable position in life. Such examples are epitomised by pioneer African elite such as Mbiyu Koinange, Dr. Njoroge Mungai, Dr. Julius Gikonyo Kiano and Eliud Mathu, who attended Columbia University, Stanford University, Berkeley University and Oxford University, respectively. The trend has been maintained but with much less rewarding results. One of the most telling signs in this regard is the fact that university graduates now reside in slums. Despite this, the perception still held is that the highest level of an education in the most prestigious of an institution should be pursued at all costs, as this will ensure occupancy of the plum spots once held by those above. The result however is a society in deep financial crisis, deep debt and deep depression.

In contrast the preeminent category of Kenyan African elite obtained only an enabling education. These include Mzee Jomo Kenyatta himself, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi himself, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala. That the Kenyan society does not reflect on this is tragic. The stuff of what made men like Jomo Kenyatta is the stuff of what should be inspiring us to bring about change in Kenya. Kenyatta's training and exposure enabled him acquire a job as a water meter clerk with the then Municipal council of Nairobi in the 1920s, with a motor cycle to go with the job. An African riding a motor cycle in the Kenya of the 1920s can be equated to an African owning a private jet today. Whichever way one looks at it, Kenyatta was headed for big things. As his agitation for independence grew, so did the efforts to contain him : it is said that the colonial government even tried to entice him by offering him a job as a Provincial Commissioner. Kenyatta paid a price for his life long stuggle however, part of which was fifteen year European sojurn on the brink of disaster, and a seven year jail term. Mandela like Kenyatta, also had options. As an Attorney at law, Mandela would have gone places either way.

The battles fought by Kenyatta and Mandela were waged at a different time with diffrent goals, and prevailed because of their mettle, character, sacrifice, commitment, resilience and perseverance. It is this that badly lacks in our society today, especially amongst the priveleged, educated elite. Kenyatta sacrificed the comfort and prestige of a motor cycle, for the discomfort and indignity of a hard cold prison cell. Try and argue this to Kenyan parliamentarians who this year voted themselves a generous housing and mortgage scheme in the face of abject poverty. Not one dissenting voice was raised against the contentious and ill timed mortgage scheme, yet many opposition parliamentarians make claim of being the forebearers and custodians of the second liberation. Curiously, there was no voice of dissension even from Kenyatta's kin in the August House.

This country is at greater risk of being exterminated by intellectual poverty, than by material poverty. A good number of us are banking on next year's general election for change, but it's plain to see that it has been won long before it has been contested. The election is a foregone conclusion but even then, it should not form our primary focus. This country is deprived of a spirit and of a soul and it is for us to develop this in the coming years. This country lacks the thrust, drive and intellect that drove men like Kenyatta, and it is for us to re-constitute it. Kenyan pin-ups must don Kenyan households twenty years from now.

The epic "Thriller in Manila", between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, was fought twenty five years ago. Ali won the title but both men won the fight in a bruising battle that expended both their energies. Ali was drained of physical energy, and noting this, his trainer Angelo Dundee, prompted him to dig deep into his reserves. Ali did just this and from the 10th round till the end, Ali fought and thrust ahead through sheer will power, tact and determnination. Ali later said that he had never felt closer to dying. This country is in the 10th round.


Michael Mundia Kamau

                 $ 102,000,000 - 18th November 2001

                                                                                                              Michael Mundia Kamau
                                                                                                              P.O. Box 17510
                                                                                                              00500 Enterprise Road
                                                                                                              Nairobi
                                                                                                              Kenya

                                                                                                              18th November 2001

                                                  $ 102,000,000

The economic downturn in Kenya continues to leave a trial of devastation with the latest victim being confectionary giant House of Manji, put under receivership last week. Over the last three weeks, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company reported a loss of five billion shillings in it's recently concluded financial year, and another age old giant, Kenya Bus Services Limited, laid off 1,400 workers. Certainly, the latter two corporations have little reason for being in their kind of predicament given the strategic positions they hold in their respective markets.

In spite of the the general economic malaise no solution appears forthcoming from the government or the people. This country has a serious attitude problem so that even as we stare doom in the face, our focus is on less pressing issues. Ask the average Kenyan what he or she thinks is the problem and a finger will very likely be pointed at the government. Much as this may be the case, we must also challenge ourselves to account for the gains we have managed to make left on our own. A case in point is the remarkable speed with which cell phones have been purchased over the past one year despite persistent cries of strained finances. It is estimated that 480,000 units have been subscribed. In the last year the cost of a hand set has come down significantly from about 12,000 Kenya shillings per unit (depending on the model ), to 5,000 Kenya shillings per unit. Assuming the 480,000 subscribers have each paid 5,000 Kenya shillings for their cell phones over the past one year, then this works out to revenue of 2.4 billion Kenya shillings ( approximately US $ 30,000,000). If we further assume that every cell phone user spends 1,000 Kenya shillings per month on calls, then this works out to 5.76 billion shillings ( approximately US $ 72,000,000 ), spent over the last one year. US $ 102,000,000 is alot of money by any standard, comparing monumentally with the US $ 20,000,000 sought by Kenya from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and we cannot claim that there is no money in Kenya. No wonder the two cell phone providers in Kenya can afford to sponsor  golf tournaments and produce expensive one year commemorative brochures.

The value of cell phones and the role they play in modern communication cannot be downplayed. Were it not for cell phones,  we would probably have never known what transpired aboard the airlines that crashed into the world trade center twin towers and the pentagon. Were it not for cell phones, it would have been harder to rescue survivors from the site of the collapsed twin towers. In spite of this and much more, a small impoverished Nation like ours seriously needs to question the efficacy of committing US $ 102,000,000 to mobile phones while numerous other undertakings of a much more pressing nature, remain unattended to. The very determining of where to start in the re-birth of our Nation is a daunting task given the vast problems we are faced with. Do we start with unemployment, with income generation, or with sensitisation ?
This notwithstanding, had we saved up that US $ 102,000,000 over the last one year and divided it equally among the eight provinces ( US $ 12,750,000), it would have impacted significantly, put to proper use. We would in many ways be, set for life.

It is crucial that we start being guided by such indicators and not by wishful thinking. This country has quite easily raised US $ 102,000,000 over the last one year, but we don't have much to show for it. Desperation is taking root like never before. I recently encountered a compatriot in his late 50s in the process of desparately disposing some of his assets to pay off his electricity bill and avoid disconnection. According to him, he had been abruptly retrenched and left in a difficult position. The striking thing was his polished english and mannerisms that were no doubt acquired from an institution like Alliance High School, Mangu High School, or Maseno High School, pedigree institutions then and now. Not too long ago also, a young polished lady, about 24 or 25, entered the early morning bus that I was in and started preaching to us, something not uncommon in Kenya today. Her english and mannerisms were also very polished suggesting that she had either attended an institution like the Kenya High School or Limuru Girls High School. Nothing seemed to make sense until she asked that we pray, prayers that were partly for those "recently retrenched".

The prosperity of a few in the face of the wider despair of the Nation is not however restricted to the two cell phone providers above. Depleting incomes have amongst other things, resulted in the emergence of budget meals that go under varying local pseudonyms such as "chafua" , "poesha" , and "special" , that retail for between 10 to 25 Kenya shillings . The retailers of these products have ingeniously devised ways of meeting a need at minimal cost and reaping from it, and are indeed living the Kenyan dream. A number of years back, I watched a television series of Charles Dutton's "Roc" that focused on the dealings of a drug peddler whose operations were devastating the local neighbourhood. When confronted, the drug dealer said he was living the American dream "the only way he knew how". In the same way, those behind "chafua", "poesha" and "special" are living the Kenyan dream "the only way they know how" , with networks that spread far and wide. They do not speak or write fancy english, or engage in inspirational albiet ineffective bourgeois discussions on ways of reviving the economy. Indeed, it is they if anyone, that need cell phones to effectively co-ordinate their operations.

The perceived enemy as mentioned above, is usually seen as the government. The government indeed apparently lost a crucial vote in parliament in August of this year, that would have seen to the re-establishment of an anti-corruption and the resumption of donor funding, a defeat that was welcomed as a sign of the waning influence of the government on it's hold on this country. Nothing could be further further from the truth, and the stage is being set for something very dramatic in Kenya.

President Daniel arap Moi has just returned from an eight day trip abroad, a loud statement of the confidence on his grip on power. He recently appointed the son of a bitter political opponent as chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), breaking new frontiers in expediency. The Matiba family whose son Raymond is the said new chairman of KTB, badly needed something like this to help revive the family owned Alliance Group of Hotels, currently under receivership. In this regard, President Moi has surpassed even his former boss, President Kenyatta. After a bitter confrontation with his former vice president Oginga Odinga in Odinga's Luo Nyanza in 1969, Kenyatta never set foot in Luo Nyanza again until his death in 1978. It is hard to imagine that Kenyatta would have appointed any of Odinga's sons to any government position, let alone that of chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board.

The ruling elite in Kenya are also closely linked with the two mobile phone providers and technically therefore, partly have US $ 102,000,000 in their cash reserves, in a pre-election year. How do you beat this ? Further, President Moi's government is perenially being attacked for it's inability to effectively deal with donor agencies, yet the chief executives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank  made a cordial stopover in Kenya in February this year, hosted by none less than President Moi himself. The scheming at hand is very sophisticated and beyond the comprehension of many of us, myself included. As this goes on, we are busy deceiving ourselves with hastily hatched commercial ventures. The capital city Nairobi has for instance been transformed into a myriad of small busines outlets called "Exhibitions". Many  are being set up on whims, and are owned and manned by largely ill equiped, ill advised, ill trained and inexperienced individuals. We somehow hope to achieve in one day what it has taken the Coca Cola Company 115 years and 34 promotional re-launches , to achieve.

If we are so hot at addressing issues, why were we so silent last year at the height of water rationing, when trucks were rushing all over Kenyan towns selling us our very own "clean soft water " ? ( another thing is that the English language is undergoing remarkable transformation in Kenya ! ). If we are so hot at addressing issues, why are we letting the plight of Kenya's 43rd tribe, Street families, get out of hand ? It is because we are not starting from and with basics. It is because we are jumping the gun. It is because we need to re-invest US $ 102,000,000.


Michael Mundia Kamau