Posted by: mzunguchick | February 6, 2008

The future of Kenya sits on Kofi Annan’s shoulders.

It all looks fairly worrying for Mr Annan I’m afraid. This is the front page headline in one of our local dailies today, The Standard, plus a small extract from the article;

“Disputed election too hot for rivals to handle

Finally, the hotly disputed presidential votes tally, responsible for the post-election falling out which touched off mayhem on a scale never witnessed before in independent Kenya, found its way to the mediation talks table.

They began on the presidential election dispute by looking at the state of affairs now and how to resolve the problem. Proper talks, however, begin today.

Like hot bricks, ODM is said to have dropped the matter of the allegedly stolen presidential election complete with alleged evidence and a raft of demands for electoral reforms.

Sources also intimated that the issue of a transitional government briefly featured, forcing an immediate stalemate.

For the first time, the two teams ate lunch separately.”

Now ask me how I’m feeling today after reading this? …
No, you’re right – don’t bother. I think I am beyond depression and just feel numb with despair.

Absolutely everyone is already talking about Annan’s mediation in a way that sounds like they’re giving up hope that it will work on the one hand, and on the other they all seem to be saying If Annan gives up or leaves us now, there will be outright civil war here in Kenya.

Old Kofi was looked incredibly stressed when I saw him being interviewed by the press last night, but I’m not surprised. The whole world’s eyes are firmly focused on him now, and have rested the future of Kenya on his shoulders. I bet he wishes he stayed in his bed with that flu after all and hadn’t bothered to come here in the first place.

Now he has got into talking about the real reason they are all there – the disputed election – all the parties sitting around the table have turned from pussy cats into raging bulls and there seems that there will be no let up by either side.

Outside of the talks the government is pretending everything is just ‘hunky dory’ and obviously feel if they can keep the pretense on for long enough, the rest of Kenya will be bored of it all and just give up and leave Kibaki be. Personally I think this would be a huge mistake for Kenya and its democracy. I don’t believe in taking sides but I do believe that everyone has a right to be heard and curretnly the government (who cannot give security to anyone at all in Kenya right now) is not listening to anyone and for that they are wrong. I am not saying they must agree or disagree but they must at least give people a chance and these fake talks are just that – fake.

I think Raila is right when he says that the government, and especially Kibaki, is not taking these talks seriously at all, and I think the government is just partaking in order to pacify us Kenyans. But really, does he think we do not have brains and cannot think for ourselves. I do understand Kenyans are tired of fighting and are so keen to have this whole situation resolved but can that ever happen now with all the hate stirred up to such an extent.

I read something recently that said that perhaps Kenyans had always harboured this hatred and it just took this spark to ignite it all. I think they are right to a small extent as the majority of Kenyans had always had different feelings towards different tribes but I’m not sure that ‘hatred’ is the right word. It is just like in Great Britain where you have the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English, but does it mean that absolutely hate each other – even though they have some cracking jokes against one another. However, it wasn’t that long ago that they were battling so perhaps we are not so incredibly ‘backward’ as the first world likes to think. Don’t forget we are behind in most of the education, technology, etc that the first world has to offer, but isn’t that the whole point here – do Kenyans not also deserve to find a way to get to that same place? And is not the key to that place DEMOCRACY?

I would love to hear others views on this. I don’t need a bunch of ‘hate speech’ because I shall most definitely delete it, but I would like to know what people really think of these discussions and who do we really want as our President right now. Is it still Raila or Kibaki, or perhaps Kofi Annan would be a better bet as he’s completely impartial. Perhaps another Kenyan such as Marende – the speaker for parliament – who although he was an ODM MP, from what little I have seen of him since he was voted in as speaker, he did seem to speak as the independant that he has been supposedly voted in to be – but is he really? I don’t know. What do you think?

If I get a lot of responses to this BIG question – I might set up a forum to which we can all contribute – or is there one already set up somewhere to which we can all be directed? I really think intelligent opinions of what Kenyans, or anyone else with a genuine interest in what happens to Kenya, really think could perhaps be forwarded to the mediators in case Mr Annan does bail on us, or just because I think they should perhaps know what the ‘real’ Kenyan thinks, not just the big wigs and the ‘bags of money’ CEO’s with big business interests who, don’t ever forget, will always have an alternative place to go and live, unlike the rest of us who have no choice but to stay in this our beloved home country of Kenya, and want to live once again in a land of peace and unity without fear.



  1. Great idea to open the platform for discussion: I have two suggestions for President (as I doubt Kofi will have the stomach for it after all these frustrating ‘talks’ or ‘non-talks’.

    a) John Githongo – who spoke well on BBC Hard Talk the other day. That he was going to be brought back to Kenya by ODM if they had got in fair and square, is a tribute to his impartiality (although I have read in some blogs that his alliegances have been questioned). But I think he is intelligent, with good emotional intelligence. Having a good grip on the corruption issues of this country can only help too.

    b) a team of the movers and shakers of this country – extracted from the various sectors – legal, financial, tourism, manufacturing, communications, etc etc. This team could run the country for an interim period until a ‘free and fair’ election is conducted under the auspices of an independent body – like the EU, UN etc? This election should be computerised. If India can do it with a population itd size, then surely Kenya can.

    The most important quality that either will need is the ability to command respect and lead the nation. Honesty, trust and transparency come hand in hand with this. ACTIONS will speak louder than words. And actions are required soon.

    Failing these two suggestions, mzungu chick has my vote.

  2. I support the idea of a forum. Useful also if the practical proposals can be shared with Kofi over a cup of coffee.

    1. hypothesis: Kibaki will hold on to power, talks or no talks, chaos or no chaos. It is upon us to see how we can politely persuade him to ‘share power’. If we force him, he could turn nasty (Mugabe!)and we’d suffer. We must have seen how vulnerable we are in the last month. I dont think kibaki will cede an inch to Raila – there seems to be real hatred between these two guys. Can ODM prop up an alternative? Musalia , perhaps.
    This will be a medium term solution, to hold the country together.

    2. Change the constitution – Is it possible for us to forget DEMOCRACY? No Kenyan ‘tribe’ has a word that describes ‘democracy’. Ancestrally, we did not have ‘democracy’, but rather, semblance of Absolute Monarchs. We still show lots of preference to this system from our actions, as we usually kind of identify ‘royal family’ and keep sending them to parliament, son after father, wife after husband… Can we identify a ruling pedigree (Mzungu chick, throw your hat in the ring!) and crown them King/Queen, and subsequently on the family line? This democracy thing is getting too alien for Africa.

  3. well the same democracy was alien to koreans at some point! there is nothing alien about people wanting to live their lives freely and to have equal opportunities to self-actualize. dismissing democracy with such simplistic talk of no venercular equivalents and harking back to pre modern time institutions and systems, i think is akin to throwing reason out with retrogressive birthwater

    mc, i’ve said on your blog that we need to overhaul our governance infrastructure if we’re to make progress as a society.history is replete with ‘nice’ individuals who mutated to ogres once they tasted the ‘coolness’ of unfettered power-vindicating the author of a slogan i saw on here last week.

    i mention korea coz what has happened out there is an example of exactly why a ‘working’ democracy is worth fighting for. like they did, we need to recognize that we have an opportunity to correct what is/has been wrong with our system-and we know what that is. big question is, is there goodwill amgonst our leaders to do this? as i see it, that is what will determine whether these talks will midwife a ‘live’ kenya that can survive for a long long time or a still born-no matter who/what we put up there.

    my 2 cents

  4. Twiga – Totally agree with you on the “Honesty, trust and transparency” – that is definitely what we need to be fighting for here.

    Ajna – Personally I don’t think power sharing is an option for us now, as supposedly the last government in which Kibaki was President was to be a form of a power share government within the NARC party, and as we all saw, it certainly did not work that way, and that is one of the reasons we are in this predicament in the first place.

    Changing the constitution is key, and I definitely agree with Zed on this one – we may not have a vernacular word for ‘deomcracy’ but certainly a monarchy system is the last thing we need. That is already what we already are involved in – with the same families keeping power for the last 40 odd years and it is most definitely what we need to get rid of.

    Zed – i know nothing of Korea so can’t really comment on it, but I certainly agree with you that we need to take this opportunity to correct our system and that a ‘working’ democracy here is most definitely worth fighting for.
    (PS. thanks for vindicating me on the ‘power’ thing – I just thought it’d make a nice bumper sticker for all those navy blue Mercs running round town! He He!)

  5. I’m not Kenyan – I only love the place – but I am Irish, and I well remember the peace talks in Northern Ireland. There were many impossible days, and we never thought we’d get to the stage we’re at now. There was a lot of eating meals in separate rooms, falling out over teh tiniest of forms of words. It takes a catalyst of some kind – the US senator Mitchell was ours. i hope Kofi Anan can be yours.

    And remember, the northern Ireland thing was trying to sort out peace after decades of a guerilla war. Kenya is in better shape than that

    So what I’m saying, I suppose, is take hope. Hope for change, as that other famous Kenyan is saying all around the primaries in the US just now. There’s no need to despair yet

  6. I take zed chastity on ‘simplicity’, but; has democracy as it were in Europe, America, (and now korea) worked anywhere in africa?. We need, and must fight for all liberties and freedoms inherent in a functioning democratic state, but africa got to invent its own version that works. You are not honest, in my view, if you dismiss the african cultural, even tribal disposition. Of course my qualification in this debate is that, I am Kenyan of african extract.

  7. Hey, Ajna, I don’t know. We Irish used to be all ruling families and high kings. In lots of ways we still are, though the ruling families have expanded a little to mean ruling parties. it’s democracy our way. and it involves a lot less fighting than it did before.

    You could call it a loss of culture, or an imposition of an external system. You could legitimately say both of those things about the coming of democracy to Ireland (cause i’m not qualified to talk about Kenya)but I think it was worth it. It hasn’t turned us into americans. it hasn’t changed the good things in our culture. It hasn’t even changed most of the bad things.

    It’s just cut down on the killing here

  8. Sheila – Thanks for kind words of hope. Most definitely much appreciated and required right now!

    Ajna – I agree that we should never dismiss tribal disposition but what we must do is create a much more equal Kenyan – whichever tribe you are from don’t you think?

    As Sheila said we just need to ‘cut down on the killing’.

  9. Thursday
    At least some people in Kenya are talking sense, the businessmen who had a meeting called by the Safaricom boss.
    They are least realise that if the ODM and Govt. don’t get their act together, there will be “no country to govern; and no people to tax”.
    And these businessmen can’t all be members of the Mount Kenya Mafia, can they?
    Maybe Kibaki/Raila will realise that it is not just the ordinary people of Kenya who are suffering. Without them, there is no business becuase there are no workers.
    And maybe even the MKM will put pressure on Tweedledum and Tweedledee to find a solution. Stranger things have happened.

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