Wednesday, 20 July 2011


In July 2011, the website foreign policy published their annual list of failed states. Kenya was ranked 16th on that list, and this evoked a great deal of negative emotions from the Kenyan public. I mean, Kenya has its fair share of problems, but listing it with countries such as Somalia and Pakistan is unfair, surely.
I decided to do some research on the matter, and this is what I found out:
The fund for peace on its website, describes itself as “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research and educational organization that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security.” It measures pressures on a state, moreso than the states capacity to handle them. Its research is guided by 12 primary social, economic and political indicators (check them here) and I have summarized these below. The indicators are then analyzed on a scale of 1 to 10:
1. Demographic pressures
These pressures include pressures deriving from high population density, group settlement patterns, high population growth rates, natural disasters, epidemics and environmental hazards.
2. Massive movement of Refugees and IDPs

This is the forced uprooting of communities as a result of random/targeted violence causing food shortages, disease that could lead to humanitarian and security problems both within and between countries.
3. Vengeance seeking group grievances
These are groups with historical injustices, patterns of atrocities committed against groups, public scapegoating of groups believed to have acquired wealth, status or power as evidenced in the emergence of hate radio, pamphleteering and stereotypical/nationalistic political rhetoric.
4. Chronic and sustained human flight
This is brain drain and voluntary emigration of the middle class due to economic deterioration, and growth of the Diaspora.
5. Uneven development
This investigates group based inequality, or perceived inequality in education and economic status, as well as group based poverty as measured by poverty levels, educational levels etc.
6. Poverty and decline
This is the progressive economic decline, collapse or devaluation of the national currency, “extreme social hardship imposed by economic austerity programs, growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling, and capital flight, and increase in levels of corruption and illicit transactions among the general populace.”(fund for peace)
7. Legitimacy of the state
Massive and endemic corruption and profiteering by ruling elites, and the loss of confidence in state institutions.
8. Public services
This investigates whether there has been progressive deterioration of public services, such as the failure of the government to provide health, education etc.
9. Human rights and rule of law
This is the rise of dictatorships, politically inspired violence, rise of the number if dissidents and political prisoners, and the widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights.
10. Security apparatus
Private militias, army within an army, armed resistance to governing authority and elite guards beholden to the government.
11. Factionalized elites
This investigates tribalism, nationalistic political rhetoric, absence of legitimate leadership widely accepted as representing the entire citizenry.
12. External intervention
This looks at the military engagement, economic intervention by outside powers, and humanitarian intervention into internal conflict.
The fund for peace also ranks five key state institutions (leadership, military, police, judiciary and civil service). Leadership is judged to be weak, the military is poor, the police are poor, judiciary is poor and the civil service is weak.
The fund for peace then releases its findings in the July of the next year, after analyzing thousands of reports. Hence the results that were released in July 2011 were for the year 2010. Kenya’s performance from 2007 to 2011 is as follows: 2007-31st, 2008-26th, 2009-14th. 2010, 13th, 2011-16th.
Keeping in mind that the lower the ranking a country is, the worse the conditions in this country are (Somalia is position 1), it is obvious that Kenya’s position deteriorated progressively from 2007 to 2010, but improved slightly in 2011, mainly because of the free and fair referendum, and the promulgation of the new constitution. The enshrinement of the bill of rights and devolution of government will undoubtedly lead to the improvement of the Kenyan situation.

However, the issue of refugees and IDPs, factionalized elites and external intervention are not improving, in any case the factionalized elites (tribalism, nationalistic political rhetoric and absence of legitimate leadership widely accepted as representing the whole citizenry) the situation is getting worse despite the best efforts of the national cohesion commission.
Some of the challenges that stand in Kenya’s way to improving its standing on this list this year include:
• The ruling of the international criminal court on whether the six cases will be confirmed and criminal proceedings started. Whether or not this happens, justice must be achieved for the more than 1000 Kenyans that lost their lives in the 2008 post election violence. Failure to do so, whether by the ICC or the local judiciary will be a win for impunity and injustice. If the perpetrators of the 2008 violence are not prosecuted, what will stop such violence from occurring in the general elections of 2012?
• Secondly, the implementation of the constitution must be achieved within the stipulated time by all costs. This will ensure that we don’t go for a snap election that we are ill-prepared for. Thirdly, the campaigns for the elections will have to be conducted in a way that respects peace, justice and harmonious coexistence between the different communities, tribes and religious groups living in Kenya.
• Fourthly, the famine that is currently ravaging parts of northern Kenya must be addressed, the influx of refugees into Kenya from Somalia must be mitigated, and the refugees who are currently living in Daadab must be housed in proper conditions, and their health, food, security and clothing situation also addressed.
• Fifth, the runaway inflation, deterioration of the Kenyan shilling and rising cost of living addressed. This will ensure that the economic situation of Kenyans does not worsen.
• Sixth, the corruption that always takes place in the two years preceding a general election must be addressed and culprits taken to court, so as to give the public confidence in the government, as well as enable the state to provide the basic services to Kenyans.
In conclusion, the failed state index which did not receive the attention it deserved from Kenyans raises a lot of pertinent issues for all Kenyans to interrogate. The immediate future for Kenya is exciting yet fraught with danger. If there had been no elections in 2012, Kenya’s ranking would have undoubtedly improved. However, that, together with The Hague, drought, tough economic conditions, and slow implementation of the constitution means that we have to be very involved and wary as we move forward.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011



Saturday, 16 July 2011


The civil society, according to the London school of economics, “refers to the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, and market, though in practice, the boundaries between the state, civil society, and market are often complex, blurred and negotiated . . . civil societies are often populated by organizations such as registered charities, gnus, community groups, women’s organizations, faith-based organizations, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy groups.”
A simpler definition by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is, “the arena, outside of the family, the state, and the market where people associate to advance common interests.
Going by these definitions, then civil society is very wide, and pervasive in all societies, Kenya included. In Kenya, the civil society has played a big role in the fight for a new constitution, democracy, the accountability of the government and fight against corruption. The line between civil society and government has often become blurred, and sometimes the civil society bigwigs have ventured into politics. This has led to the credibility of the civil society being eroded, as these organizations have at times become too cozy with the politicians, promoted foreign interests, alienated the people from the political process, spread half truths and propaganda (case in point the evangelicals during no campaign for the 2010 referendum), and been used by unscrupulous individuals purely to canvas for support from donors while the ultimate use of these funds is not clear to Kenyans.
Yet, looking at the new constitution and its provisions on gender, the minority tribes and devolution of power, it is clear that the civil society is a force to be reckoned with. In the era of internet, they can easily educate, some would say indoctrinate Kenyans on their ideologies and world view, sometimes in competition against the government, the traditional media(radio, television and print), and advance their agenda in politics. It would be foolhardy to assume that all civil society groups work for the interests of Kenya all the time, for example many faith based organizations were against the appointment of Dr Wily Mutunga as the chief justice, despite; he being a member of the civil society, and most Kenyans approving of his appointment.
Before we accept what the civil society groups have to say, we need to interrogate them. Some of the questions we should ask an activist or civil society hack before we swallow what he has to say include:
• Where do you get your backing (financial, moral or ideological) from?
• Whose interests are you promoting in your advocacy?
• What methods do you use to achieve your interests and aims?(whether lobbying, sending emails, use of the traditional and new media)
• What role, if any, do Kenyans play in the formation of your visions and goals?
• Whose support are you focused on acquiring, the politicians, the diplomatic corps or the Kenyans?
In my view, with the democratization of the country, privatization of the media, achievement of the new constitution and enshrinement of freedom of expression and association, the aims of the first wave of civil society has been achieved. The days of unity and solidarity in the civil society ended with the Moi regime in 2002. Expect to see much more disagreements, plurality of opinions, difference of opinions, pursuing of selfish interests from the civil society. The civil society will start working against each other, in terms of their goals and ideologies. Our view of civil society has to change. The days where Kenyans seek the truth from NGOs are behind us. We have to analyze every civil society organization as a single entity, loosely affiliated to other bodies from the same background.
In conclusion, the role of civil society in Kenya, in my view will change under the new constitutional dispensation to a more vibrant, diverse and multifaceted affair. There will be “fake” civil society groups, those with interests that are downright selfish and contrary to the expectations of Kenyans, much more opinions will be thrown to us, and the rights and freedoms we enjoy under the new constitution will be used both for us, and against us.
Will this lead to a better Kenya? Hopefully it will, but the challenges are rife.


The general elections are supposed to be held sometime next year, and as a result, the field of presidential candidate is growing by the week. The constitution of Kenya article 137 has the qualifications that one must fulfill so as to allow them to get nomination, and because clause 1) (c) allows the nomination of independent candidates, and nomination of two thousand voters, virtually any Kenyan can declare interest.
Kenyan citizens have greeted some of the candidates with ridicule and brushed them away without scrutinizing them, and their policies. This is a negative attitude that promotes propaganda, weakening of the debates between candidates, tribalist chiefs being approved by Kenyans almost unquestioningly, and an unhealthy dependence on opinion polls to tell us who the best candidates are.
I think we should carefully scrutinize the presidential candidates before writing off or rubber stamping anyone as the winner, and some of the things we should look at are as follows:
1. Principles and beliefs
Every person has their own principles that they fight for in their lives, whether it is fighting for gender equality, rights of the disabled, marginalized communities or even acquiring as much wealth s possible. Thus, every candidate will base their candidature on a certain agenda based on their beliefs, whether it is kufuata nyayo, economic development or equality.
It is important that we scrutinize each candidate’s principles and beliefs, so that we can see how these are in line with the national values, interests and vision 2030.
2. Professional and economic background
This is important so as to give us inkling on what special interests, if any, the candidate would represent once in government, and what special abilities the candidate will bring to the office. A farmer by profession would be expected to bring that expertise to the job, while at the same time focusing more on the agriculture sector.
3. Ideological leanings
Ideology is becoming an increasingly important part of Kenyan politics. Whether this is ultimately a positive or negative development is a topic for another day, but each candidate must tell Kenyans where he stands in terms of role of the government in promoting development, the role of faith in the state and drafting of laws and policies, their policies towards the LGBIT group, and what they think the role of Kenya should be in the international relations,
4. Track record
The track record of the candidate in terms of what they have done in their previous capacities to promote democracy, human rights, peace and unity among all Kenyans, and respect for the rule of law, has to be investigated. Those who were silent during the fight for democracy, and against the dictatorship of Kenyans first 2 presidents, and to some extent even the second, cannot be trusted as courageous, principled and democratic candidates.
5. Organization of the campaign
The way the presidential candidate organizes his campaign tell a lot on how they would run their administration. How the candidate uses social media such as facebook or twitter, handling of propaganda and attacks from other candidates, and coherence and realism of the campaign promises, as well as the efficiency of their campaign can tell us how the candidate would handle opposition, use new technology in governance of the country, and run the cabinet.
6. Brushes with the law, if any
Many Kenyan politicians have spent their time in court, either for corruption charges, allegations of crimes against humanity, fighting for democracy and freedom, or organizing protests against dictatorial regimes etc. we should look at these brushes with the law so as to gain insight to the personal characters of the candidates, and their track record in fighting for the democracy (or against it) that we take for granted.
7. Transparency about campaign funding
The campaign websites of every candidate should tell us how they have acquired their funds. This is important because it will show us which candidates promote transparency. It will also educate us on any special interests either inside or outside Kenya, including the business class, religious groups, trade and labour groups.

It is my view that should we scrutinize each candidate this way, we will make much more informed choices on our government, as well as reduce tribalism and ethnic chauvinism. It will also remove the joy riders who may seek to use the pluralism and relative ease in which someone may vie for the most powerful political office in the land.
We as Kenyans must remember is that the constitution stipulates, in article 38 (3), (c) That every adult citizen has the right without unreasonable restrictions to be a candidate for public office, or office within a political party of which the citizen is a member and, if elected, to hold office. We should not discriminate against any candidate who has declared interest for the seat on any ground including race, sex, ethnicity or religion, as long as the said candidate fulfilled all the requirements of the constitution, and is a responsible leader.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Governments the world over, and especially legislators in national assemblies are always accused by their constituents of neglecting them once elected. Kenya is not spared in this. Kenyan mps have time and again, increased their salaries, fought efforts to pay taxes, approved the discredited director of public prosecutions and generally thumbed their noses at the Kenyan voter time and time again. What makes legislators act this way?
According to Jean Jacques Rousseau, there are three voices that tell every legislator in all governments what to do in their job:
• What the government(executive) wants
• What the legislator wants
• What the people want
In a perfect democracy, the executive creates and implements the policy that originates and serves the public interest, while every legislator’s interest and want is the representation of the people who elected him to parliament. Hence what the people want what the legislator wants and what the executive wants is one and the same thing. But Kenya is not a perfect democracy, and the interests of the executive and the parliamentarians have many a time drowned out the public interest and general will.
Why is this?
Some of the reasons why this happens are as follows:
We vote in governments based not on the general goodwill and on the interests of good governance and visionary leadership. Presidential candidates are elected mainly on tribal basis. Their own ideologies, characters, principles and values are further down the pecking order. Hence the government becomes lopsided towards a certain region, and some tribes feel included at the expense of others. However only minority elite from the ‘ruling’ elite benefits from this government while ordinary Kenyans interest suffers.
In parliament, debate and checking of the government becomes a tribal affair, and going against the tribal line is considered treachery. As a result the public interest suffers.
Secondly, our reasons for electing parliamentarians are not worthy or parallel to the general will. In all constituencies the clan, tribal or religious interests come first, while the richer the contestant, the more likely the chances of election. As a result, murderers, drug lords, launderers and land grabbers ascend to parliament. There is no way such people would pass legislation that could lead to their prosecutions or arrest, despite them being in the public interest. Watu wa mtaa are also likely to go into parliament, despite their lack of knowledge on political science, law, foreign policy or economics. The voters have to start analyzing the contestants, their sources of wealth and their principles and visions for them rather than the above mentioned characters.
Most important, we must start viewing ourselves as stakeholders who deserve honourable, visionary and driven leaders in government. We must start viewing ourselves as individuals, not tribes. Kenya is made up of 40 million people, not 43 tribes. That is the mantra we must carry as we choose our leaders to the two arms of government, the executive and the legislature.

That is the only way to ensure the public interest is not drowned out in government when the budget, laws and policy are being enacted.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

8 ways kenya can assist south sudan after independence

South Sudan will become a republic on July 9th, 2011. This momentous occasion is a moment that should be celebrated by all Africans, and especially those from the horn of Africa, because a peaceful and hopefully prosperous south Sudan offers a lot of opportunities for them. 
however, there is a lot of apprehension regarding the future of South Sudan, due to the many challenges it faces as it becomes a republic, including low education standards, poor infrastructure, unemployment and poverty, tribal dissent from some of the lesser tribes, murmurings of high level corruption in the government, and arrogance, bad relations and clashes with North Sudan. 
For South Sudan to safely navigate these problems the assistance of South Sudan's neighbours to the south and east will be crucial-Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda must be with South Sudan every step of the way. I will focus on what Kenya can do to assist South Sudan:
  1. Offer financial support to South Sudan. Kenya's infamous 1 million aid grant to Japan should be replicated here. most of south Sudan's industry need a lot of investment, and Kenya's generosity should come in handy to help South Sudan build schools, dispensaries, pay teachers and train the south Sudanese professionals 
  2. Fast track inclusion of South Sudan to the East African Community fold. This is the biggest way that Kenya can assist this new country. the free movement of finances, people and goods across the borders will help create employment and exploit opportunities in both countries and hasten the development of South Sudan
  3. Construct transport infrastructure especially pipelines to exploit oil from south Sudan. South Sudan depends too much on the north for infrastructure such as pipelines to transport oil to the ports. Kenya and more likely, Uganda, should help construct these pipelines so as to ensure the relations between north and south are not so lopsided in the North's favor.
  4. Advise the south to avoid tribalism. There have been murmurings in the south that the 'big tribes' are monopolizing the national cake and positions in government. Kenya has had major problems with ethnicity, and it the South Sudanese should be advised to promote devolution of government, appointment of technocrats on merit, regional balancing and promoting national identity so as to reduce instance of tribal conflicts
  5. Kenya should continue being a mediator between north and south, keeping in mind that Bashir is increasingly isolated internationally, much of the oil that Khartoum used to exploit lies in the south and border demarcation in parts like Abyei is not yet complete
  6. Fighting corruption. Kenya has fought, and many will say, lost the war on corruption and South Sudan can learn on how to form anti corruption commissions, empowering the judiciary to try the perpetrators of corruption and institute checks and balances on the executive so that corruption can be fought within and outside government
  7. Kenya should also promote closer military and political ties to strengthen South Sudan's defense forces, institutions such as judiciary and parliament, as well as the executive. This is necessary so that it can fight the enemies of peace and prosperity from the north that are located in and out of North Sudan Kenya should also invest in South Sudan's banking sector, infrastructure, telecommunications network and other industry so that to ensure economic development that can help reduce poverty, unemployment and possible civil strife in South Sudan
In conclusion, Kenya has a lot to do to ensure south Sudan’s future is bright and hopeful…teaching them to avoid our mistakes, and using our economic and human infrastructure to guide them step by step.

Artistry: Richard Gizbert - Updated

Artistry: Richard Gizbert - Updated

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Kenya is at a crossroads at the present. Despite having passed a new constitution last year, many Kenyans and politicians are still stuck in the old way of thinking about the role of the citizens, the government, the politicians and other social and political institutions in the development of the country. As a result, the corruption, impunity, tribal alliances, arrogance, selfishness and gender chauvinism that characterized Kenyans and their institutions persist despite the best efforts of many of its citizens and the new constitutional dispensation.
But the Hague confirmation trials, worrying economic trends and deficits, upcoming general elections and campaigns, implementation of the new constitution and its attendant appointments and acts of parliament, insistence of the police to treat the big fish as though they are above the law and tough economic conditions in much of east Africa and the world have led to a lot of political brinkmanship, tensions, lies and generally a feeling that a big chunk of the political class is insistent on not implementing the new constitution, or ignoring it in both letter and spirit so as to conserve their ill gotten wealth and connections in economic and political sectors.
Hence Kenyans must be extra vigilant to ensure the new constitution is implemented, as well as ensure that the economic troubles facing the citizenry are addressed. We must be prepared to play a bigger role in government affairs and politics if we are to ensure that the monumental challenges facing us are to be successfully navigated. But how do we do this? Below are some steps I think we should take to enable us to be better equipped to bring about change in Kenya.
Think as citizens
Time has come for Kenyans to start thinking more as citizens as an identity, before other defining characters such as professions, tribe and gender. We all are part of the land, and we have to think, talk and act as shareholders of this country. We have delegated power to the government to perform legislative, executive and judicial functions to ensure that our future as a country is guaranteed, and we can live in a peaceful and prosperous country. We are the ones with the power, ability and responsibility to bring about change to this country no one else!
Read and understand the new constitution
The new constitution, especially chapter 1 which talks of the sovereignty of the people and supremacy of the new constitution, and chapter 4, that is the bill of rights, is a must read if we Kenyans are to understand what its spirit and letter says, instead of always relying on the politicians to interpret it for us how they want it. Not only must we read it, but we must understand its limitations and strenghts. This will then enable us to fight for its implementation, weed out those leaders and Kenyans who are against it, and change our mindsets from old Kenya to new Kenya.
Political action
Kenyans must be prepared to actively participate in politics if we are to take the space that the tribalists, thieves and looters are incapable of occupying, those of the sensible, selfless and patriotic citizens. Signing online petitions, emailing, posting and writing to our politicians, joining politically inclined groups and people, taking part in marches for peace and democracy in Kenya-all these actions are necessary in this exciting but risky times if we are to ensure that a new Kenya is born as a result of the new constitution and changing of Kenyans mindsets.
This means that Kenyans should also engage more in seeking solutions for the problems we face, talking with each other across tribes, religions and races to find common ground as well as promote national unity, and educate each other on what we need to revolutionalise our country in the way that the constitution cannot.
Avoiding beliefs contrary to the roles of a citizen, and values of the constitution
We have to disengage ourselves emotionally from our political, social and religious leaders when looking to create a new Kenya. This will enable us to critically analyze the leaders, their policies (or lack of), their beliefs, track record and ideological standing on the role of government, ethnicity and citizen in making a great nation for our children to live in.
We also need to stop believing in the lies and wishful; thinking that leads us to abdicating our roles as citizens in creating a new Kenya, such as: “what Kenya needs is a benevolent dictator”, “we need someone new to vie for president.” As much as these sentiments may have persuasive points, the most important and integral person in the fight for a new Kenya is YOU, and any ideology that leads to the aloofness of YOU from the civic duties of building a new Kenya can only have negative consequences.
Any misplaced affirmative action based on gender or race that will lead to contradiction of article 27 (5) that says no person should discriminate directly or indirectly on any grounds including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic/social origin, color, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth…must be shunned as we look for the next president of this nation.
Conversing and teaching each other
We must share ideas, educate each other on the new constitution, our hopes and dreams for the future we want to grow old in, our perceptions on the past, and the divisions that have led to the making of Kenya. The social media has a big role to play in this. We must use facebook and twitter for more than leisurely activities since they are powerful mediums that can help us talk with each other and share information across borders and large distances.
We must also educate our parents even as we reject any tribal or racial chauvinism that may be residual on our elder’s feelings, beliefs and ideas. We are from different times, and since firm rejection of ant discrimination of any grounds speculated in article 27(5) of the new constitution, e must take what is good and reject the bad ideas from our elders.

Every generation has a mission, and our mission is to ensure that a new Kenya whose values and foundations are based on the constitution that was promulgated on August 2010. We must not cower from it.