Kenyans reject Truth Commission, local trials

The Grand Coalition has come under scathing attack from angry Kenyans, who have been dismayed by the decision to have a Truth Commission instead of criminal prosecution for the perpetrators of political and ethnic clashes.

President Mwai Kibaki addressing journalists last Thursday when announcing the controversial government decision.

President Mwai Kibaki addressing journalists last Thursday when announcing the controversial decision by the cabinet.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga want to shield their key allies from both the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal constituted in Kenya. Individuals implicated in organizing, funding or complicity in violence were seen grinning behind Kibaki as he announced that he was getting them off the hook.

Opinion polls show that a vast majority of Kenyans want the ruling classes to be stripped of their positions and face criminal charges at the International Criminal Court. There is widespread belief that the international justice process will be more credible than justice in Kenyan courts.

The sad reality is that, 18 months after post election violence, nobody has been jailed with most cases ending in acquittals. This has not inspired confidence among the estimated 500,000 survivors of the clashes. Most of them still survive in squalid camps with little government assistance.

Kenyans want a radical change in their governance structure. For many years, attempts at economic, social and political reforms have either been frustrated or hijacked by the ruling elite. Politicians have vast powers to appoint cronies to state positions and to allocate resources as they wish. Economic liberalization has only benefited the well-connected and Kenyan industry is dominated by companies allied to or owned by politicians. Corruption is the order of the day as nothing works without a word from “above.”

Today, recruitment into government jobs is a waste of time as politicians manipulate the process to benefit supporters from their ethnic groups. The recent recruitment of personnel for the August national census has been marred by favoritism and bribery. Rather than benefit the millions of unemployed youth, temporary census jobs have been allocated to teachers and civil servants already on the government payroll. In several districts, youths have vowed to disrupt the census unless the recruitment of enumerators is repeated.

Over the years, little has been done to fight corruption, ethnic violence and other crimes committed by the rich and powerful. This has fostered a culture of impunity because guilty parties do not suffer any consequences. Politicians in Kenya have become demi-gods who can get away with theft, murder, incitement and adultery. Moral rectitude among Kenya’s leaders has plummeted as they engage in torrid love affairs with married women from poor families. Girls seeking assistance for school fees or jobs are forced to perform sex acts, sometimes within parliamentary offices.

The culture of evil among Kenyan leaders has sparked bitterness among ordinary people. For many years, there was little that could be done about it as the masses suffered their indignities in silence. The prospects of sending powerful personalities to the International Criminal Court offers a chance at national renewal. As stated elsewhere in this website, the international justice process offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to purge the Kenyan political system of vermin pretending to be leaders.

Though the cabinet announced that it will support criminal prosecutions through the Judiciary, few expect this to happen. If anything, most of the talk was on “forgiveness and reconciliation.” Cabinet ministers repeated similar themes throughout the weekend at various public rallies as though they had been ordered to sell the idea to Kenyans.

As a measure of how far the government was willing to go in shielding ministers from international prosecution, President Kibaki candidly revealed that they considered withdrawing Kenya from the statutes that created the International Criminal Court.

“One of the options considered was withdrawal from the Rome Statute under Article 127 and repeal of the International Crimes Act, 2008,” said the President.

There has also been speculation that, because Kenya signed the International Crimes Act after the post election violence had subsided, there was a legal argument that the new law can only be applied after its been enacted. According to the Constitution of Kenya, a law cannot be applied on crimes committed prior to its inception.

It is clear that politicians are using every legal loophole to escape justice. Among those mentioned in various human rights reports are Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Agriculture Minister William Ruto, Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama and Tourism Minister Najib Balala.

Political activist Mary Wambui, widely believed to be Kibaki’s second wife, has been implicated in organizing and funding ethnic militia.

Other prominent politicians who will face criminal charges in future include: Professor Peter Anyang Nyongo, Dr Sally Kosgey, Henry Kosgey, Elizabeth Ongoro, Franklin Bett, Kabando wa Kabando, Njenga Karume, John Pesa, Jayne Kihara, Ramadhan Kajembe and their respective supporters.

A host of councilors, security officers and political activists have been named by the Waki Commission of Inquiry and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

In the past few months, as pressure mounted on the government to act against the masterminds of political violence, the suspects have vowed to implicate both the President and Prime Minister. The argument has been that Kibaki and Raila benefitted from the violence and, therefore, cannot avoid responsibility. While Raila used mass violence to protest what he sees as electoral fraud that denied him the presidency, Kibaki was silent as violence raged on his behalf.


Kibaki, Raila find Truth Commission an easy way out

This is official government policy: the perpetrators of political and ethnic clashes will not be prosecuted but Kenyans should instead forgive and forget all past injustices.


Anxious to avoid prosecuting their key allies, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga used the weekend trip to Nyanza Province to continually stress upon political and ethnic reconciliation in a move widely at odds with majority opinion in Kenya.

According to opinion polls, most Kenyans want the perpetrators of violence to face justice in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands. However, both the President and Prime Minister do not want to expose their key supporters to the vagaries of trials for crimes against humanity.

Over the past two weeks, another option has emerged which has turned out exceedingly popular with guilty politicians: a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

The government is under international pressure to act against the masterminds of political and ethnic violence. Various investigations by a Kenyan judge, the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have strongly implicated close allies of the President and Prime Minister in organizing and funding clashes that erupted around the December 2007 General Elections. At least 1,300 people were killed as half a million were evicted from their homes in tit-for-tat ethnic warfare.

The options so far have been a locally constituted Special Tribunal or to take the suspects to the International Criminal Court. The Truth Commission is now a third option.

On President Kibaki’s side, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has been named as a key organizer of ethnic violence. Others are Kibaki’s long time ally, Njenga Karume, Mukurweini legislator Kabando wa Kabando, former Naivasha legislator Jayne Kihara and a host of high ranking professionals and business people from the President’s Kikuyu ethnic group.

Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party has a large cadre of its leadership implicated in the violence, as the worst of the clashes occurred in ODM dominated districts. Leading the pack is Agriculture Minister William Ruto, Tourism Minister Najib Balala and National Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama. Other ODM cabinet ministers linked to the ethnic killings are Franklin Bett, Dr Sally Kosgey and Professor Peter Anyang Nyongo. Ordinary members of parliament elected in the ODM party have also been mentioned. Indeed, ODM has been implicated in the violence so heavily that the party sees the investigations as a threat to its future.

The proposed Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) would be similar to one formed in South Africa following the end of Apartheid in 1994. The South African Commission – headed by respected cleric Desmond Tutu – granted amnesty to those accused of human rights violations in exchange for public testimony. Members of the security forces, intelligence agencies and black liberation movements gave chilling accounts of their actions over the previous four decades.

In a sense, a Truth Commission is like a Catholic confessional: forgiveness for sins after confessing.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Agriculture Minister William Ruto have presidential ambitions in the next General Elections scheduled for 2012. They both see the Truth Commission as a way of cleaning up their public profiles in time for campaigns. Uhuru is linked to the hiring of gangs of Kikuyu youth to engage in retaliatory attacks in the Rift Valley, while Ruto is accused of organizing or at least being complicit in Eldoret where his Kalenjin ethnic group attacked Kikuyu families.

Are Kenyans willing to forgive and forget everything that happened in 2007 and 2008?

Most Kenyans in opinion polls say that they never want a repeat of the near civil war that erupted in 2008. The only guarantee of long-term peace and stability in Kenya is by removing from power those responsible for ethnic and political clashes for the past two decades. Only a credible, internationally recognized judicial process can guarantee a future free from ethnic incitement. And nothing less than the ICC will satisfy Kenyans.

Therefore, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga joint calls for forgiveness have not been taken kindly by majority of Kenyans. The move is viewed as an opportunistic political gimmick aimed at protecting the two men’s close friends from facing the frying pan of justice. Infact, Kibaki and Raila want to save their own skins because those already named in connection with the violence have vowed not to go down alone.

William Ruto and legislators from his Rift Valley province have vowed to implicate the Prime Minister should they be taken before court. Obviously, Raila would not want to be branded as an ethnic warlord, even though video tapes and newspaper cuttings show him making rather controversial statements during the 2007 campaigns. During a campaign tour of the Mount Kenya area, Raila told the Kikuyu, Meru and Embu ethnic groups that they would “shed tears” should he win the presidency.

The Truth Commission has already run into controversy days after President Kibaki appointed former diplomat, Bethwel Kiplagat as its Chair. Kiplagat worked for many years as a top civil servant in the administration of former President Daniel arap Moi.

Critics say that Kiplagat never uttered a word objection in the 1980s and 90s when detention, torture and assasination was rife. Already, some victims of the 2008 post election violence have vowed not to appear before the Truth Commission citing its composition and its intended purpose of giving politicians an easy way out. Most of the Truth Commissioners have had little visibility in the past, even less on human rights advocacy.

Meanwhile, a group of dissident politicians have exposed a government plot to withdraw Kenya’s membership from the International Criminal Court. Former legislators Paul Muite and Koigi Wamwere says the Kenyan government wants to withdraw from the ICC in order to protect ministers likely to face trial for crimes against humanity.

Muite and Koigi were speaking in Mombasa during a court case where former Laikipia West member of parliament, G. G. Kariuki is charged with incitement. Kariuki told a recent public gathering that Kenyans should unite and overthrow the government.

Ethnic warlords find Truth Commission an easy way out

Faced with criminal charges for the deaths of 1,500 people, Kenya’s ruling elite now find the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission a convenient means of escaping jail.

Since it became obvious last year that punishment had to be meted out on those who planned, financed and executed post election violence, there has been loud disagreement over what to do with the perpetrators. The dilemma is over whether to have a locally constituted Special Tribunal or whether to just take the suspects to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are for a local tribunal. In fact, both men want Kenyans to “forgive and forget” the whole mess – their mess.

With a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), all one has to do is confess all the gory details of their crime and get an amnesty! With such confessions, the culprits of post election violence will sanitize themselves early enough for the 2012 General Elections! How convenient!

It is unfortunate that a respected personality such as Bethwel Kiplagat can propose the TJRC as a means of solving Kenya’s woes. Doesn’t he realize that people responsible for killings and rape will literally walk away scot free? But then, Ambassador Kiplagat has vested interests in the formation of a TJRC for he is slated to become a top commissioner, if not its head. But is it possible that this hitherto respected personality could stoop so low as to demean the concept of justice just for the sake of getting a job? Well, among Kenya’s cruel and corrupt elite, greed and avarice know no limits.

Other people proposed for the TJRC include former Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi and Presbyterian Church of East Africa clergyman Timothy Njoya. The rest are: Dr Maria Nzomo, Dr Elizabeth Muli, Tom Ojienda, Timothy Njoya, Dr Joseph Aluoch, Betty Murungi, Margaret Shava, Thomas Letangule, Abubakar Zein Abubakar, Joyce Miguda Majiwa, Tecla Namachanja, Maj Gen (rtd) Ahmamed Sheikh Farah and Dr Daadab Mohammed.

This list of names consists of people who have been hobnobbing with the political class for countless decades. Many in the above list have previously gotten high profile jobs thanks to lobbying by their political allies. Clearly, Kenyans should not count on the impartiality of the TJRC and its formation will promote impunity because those who have committed crimes against humanity will never be punished.

The best way – indeed the ONLY way – of ensuring that the events of 2007 -2008 are not repeated is to prosecute those implicated in funding, planning and participating in violence. Right now, the only mode of justice that Kenyans want is for the International Criminal Court to take over all cases and issue life jail terms to the likes of William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta and their cronies, most of whom are easily identifiable.

Kenyans are looking upon International Criminal Prosecutor, Louis Moreno-Ocampo for the much needed purge of an oppresive ruling clique.



Former UN chief Kofi Annan has now sent the envelope containing the list of post poll violence perpetrators to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Read this breaking story and reactions by Kenyans >>


Ethnic violence culprits escape justice again

One and a half years after the devastating violence that followed the December 2007 elections, not a single person has been prosecuted and jailed for the deaths of at least 1,500 people during a three month orgy of killing, looting and rape.


Lack of political will among Kenya’s ruling elite has bogged down the prosecution process, meaning that those behind the killing and destruction will not stand trial any time soon. Meanwhile, the desire among western powers for stability in Kenya explains why the International Criminal Court at The Hague gave one more year for Kenya to establish a tribunal to prosecute those who planned, financed and participated in the clashes.

Kenya’s ruling elite were behind the violence whose victims were mostly slum dwellers and impoverished peasants. There is clear evidence of top politicians making hate speeches, administering oaths and paying youths for the mayhem. The two leading presidential candidates in 2007 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga – kept silent as fighting raged in their names.

Even today, inter-ethnic relations in Kenya are fraught with tensions, as politicians are not eager to unite the people. Politicians have boycotted peace meetings called to reconcile warring tribes because it is easier to campaign on a platform of ethnic nationalism rather than a campaign of unity. Indeed, majority of Kenyan leaders are mere ethnic warlords with no interest in national unity. They want to isolate their tribes in order to enhance their own power and eventually pass the baton of leadership to their children. In effect, what we are seeing in Kenya is the rise of a feudal class that wants to monopolize political and economic power for generations to come.

For sure there is more-than-enough evidence to begin criminal prosecutions against those involved in the political and ethnic clashes. Thanks to the media, there are acres of tapes showing looting and actual killings taking place. Politicians were recorded preaching ethnic incitement to their followers. Others were taped threatening those ethnic groups that they thought would vote for rival candidates.

The Majimbo (federalism) debate stoked ethnic tension prior to the 2007 elections. Anyone with a political knowledge of Kenya would have known how the concept of Majimbo was used to perpetrate ethnic killings in the 1990s at the Rift Valley and Coast Provinces. To bring up the same debate in an election year was not only naive but extremely reckless. The consequences were easily predictable, especially with millions of unemployed youths eager to take over the properties of people perceived as “outsiders.”

Kenya’s politicians are split among themselves over whether to establish a local tribunal or to let the International Criminal Court do the work. And it all has to do with the 2012 Presidential elections when President Mwai Kibaki will be stepping down.

On the one hand, Kibaki and Raila want a local tribunal because they think that they can manipulate judges and intimidate witnesses, resulting in acquittals and light sentences. On the other hand, a second group of politicians led by William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta fear that a local tribunal will turn them into sacrificial lambs. Ruto led fighting in Eldoret on behalf of Raila while Uhuru organized retaliatory attacks by the Kikuyu ethnic group on behalf of Kibaki.

Ruto is loudly complaining that Raila has abandoned the youth who fought for his premiership. Ruto says that both Kibaki and Raila should face trial as everybody else was fighting for either of the two men. Ruto believes that Raila has a soft spot for Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, and having Ruto in jail would automatically clear the path for Mudavadi to succeed Raila sometime in future.

On his part, Uhuru believes that his political rivals want him jailed. His rivals in the Kibaki camp for the 2012 presidential elections are Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and former Justice Minister Martha Karua. It should be noted that Karua and Uhuru’s rivalry grew because Uhuru thought that Karua as Justice Minister was going to ensure that Uhuru was knocked out of the presidential succession race.

Uhuru and Ruto want the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take over the cases for several reasons:

  1. They perceive that the ICC will be much more fairer as it does not have a vested interest in the 2012 elections in Kenya.
  2. Court cases at the ICC take years to conclude. By 2012, the cases will not even have began and when they do, it is possible that either Uhuru and Ruto will be president and will therefore use state resources to escape prosecution.
  3. It will not be possible to take the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to The Hague to testify whereas a local tribunal will easily be accessible to IDPs.
  4. If the worst comes to the worst, Ruto and Uhuru can implicate both Kibaki and Raila at the ICC. Should we have a local tribunal, it will be very difficult to bring charges against the President and Prime Minister but the ICC is not intimidated by titles. After all, the ICC currently has a warrant of arrest for President Omar al Bashir of Sudan.

As for the Kenyan people, what do they want?

Kenyans want the entire political class to be taken to The Hague as this will ensure justice for the hundreds of thousands still suffering the effects of post-election violence. There are fears that, unless something is done stop to ethnic warlords, the next General Elections of 2012 will be the end of Kenya as we know it.

Just to show that Kenyans want The Hague Option, the Standard daily reports that the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) is questioning how a Parliament housing the perpetrators of the 2008 violence can agree on a law to incriminate itself. Many in the House have been named as purveyors of ethnic strife.

The NCCK’s Secretary General, Peter Karanja, has scoffed at the one year extension given to the Kenyan government by the ICC saying the repreive is a delaying tactic against justice.

Budget mess ruins Uhuru presidential bid

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential dream has hit the rocks following his approval of a Ministry of Finance budget despite massive discrepancies estimated at Kshs9 billion (US$114 million).

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta

In a country where few people understand the government financial system, Uhuru is already being accused of having stolen the Kshs9 billion. His appearance before the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee has provided ample speculation among the public that he is guilty of looting the Treasury.

The affair is reinforcing a belief that the Kikuyu elite surrounding President Mwai Kibaki is intent on grabbing the country’s resources clean and dry. Both the president and Uhuru are from the Kikuyu tribe.

As a matter of fact, the President is Uhuru’s baptismal godfather. It is Kibaki who proposed the name “Uhuru” when the Deputy Prime Minister was born to Kenya’s founding President, Jomo Kenyatta in the years leading to independence from British colonialism.

Uhuru has resisted calls for his resignation, saying that the Kshs9 billion discrepancy was a “typing error.” Uhuru is reading political motives behind the affair and believes that his political opponents for Kenya’s presidency stand to gain from the budget scandal. Uhuru’s allies say that the Deputy Prime Minister was misled by officers in the Ministry of Finance. Some in the pro-Uhuru crowd have even stated that the budgetary discrepancy is a plot to tarnish Uhuru with corruption allegations.

Uhuru’s likely challengers in the quest to succeed President Mwai Kibaki include Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Martha Karua, who recently resigned from her position as Justice Minister. Karua is especially bitter with Uhuru for getting President Kibaki’s silent endorsement merely because of his family background. Karua had stuck with Kibaki for over a decade and is convinced she is a far worthy candidate than Uhuru.

Though it is possible that Uhuru’s problems could be political, concerns are rising with regards to Uhuru’s suitability as a cabinet minister let alone President. It is unthinkable that such a huge error could have gone unnoticed. If true, then Uhuru is careless and he merely appended his signature without bothering to check the details. This bodes ill for a man who wants to be entrusted with the instruments of state.

Uhuru has never quite captured the popular imagination of Kenyan voters. He is seen as a child of priviledge whose actions and demeanor are symptomatic of Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders. Uhuru is hoping to exploit the Kikuyu vote to ascend to the presidency but this alone will not be enough. Uhuru is already forging alliances with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Agriculture Minister William Ruto in order to gain ethnic votes from the Kamba and Kalenjin tribes.

As the budgetary scandal unfolds, Uhuru’s personal characteristics are once again in the spotlight. Ever since Uhuru was plucked from obscurity in 1997 by former President Daniel arap Moi, questions have been raised regarding his college years in the United States. Details remain scanty but it is just a matter of time before Uhuru’s opponents get hold of the damning information and unveil it to the world.

It is being alleged that Uhuru is a heavy drinker of potent wines and spirits, making him an unreliable leader similar to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Alcoholism made Yeltsin’s government a case study in chaos.

Yeltsin would get so drunk that he could not walk out of the Presidential jet on arrival at foreign cities. Russia suffered economic and social decline as majority of people followed the President’s footsteps by drowning their sorrows in cheap brews. Those who could not afford the bottle drank perfume to get high. Russia got out of the mess only after Vladimir Putin took over in the year 2000.

Uhuru is believed to have spent hundreds of millions of the Kenyatta family fortune to pursue his presidential bid. By the year 2012, Uhuru’s total spending since 2002 is expected to exceed Kshs 1 billion (US$12.6 million).

The Kenyattas are hoping that they are not simply throwing money down the drains. Or in Uhuru’s case, down the throat.

Mungiki: Truth and fiction

As we drove along the highway up and down the ridges of Central Kenya, discussion inevitably veered towards the Mungiki, the Kikuyu and Kenyan politics.

The slums of Kenya provide a fertile recruiting ground for Mungiki. Picture by Kibera Slum Foundation

The slums of Kenya provide a fertile recruiting ground for Mungiki. Picture by Kibera Slum Foundation

Those in our group and who were not Kikuyu wanted the police to wipe out the group from the surface of the earth. They accused human rights organizations of frustrating the government’s War on Mungiki.

Our Kikuyu driver however gave a fresh insight into Mungiki, a group that has rocked the Kikuyu heartland of Central Kenya and parts of the Rift Valley.

“What you are seeing is a social implosion among the Kikuyu,” explained the middle aged driver, “there are too many people trapped in poverty, violence and hopelessness, that is why the young people are joining Mungiki. There is no other way out …”

Few people seem to understand the Mungiki phenomenon. Even the government does not understand what it is up against. As far as the police are concerned, any poor Kikuyu aged 15 – 45 is a prime suspect, especially if working in the matatu industry. What exactly is the truth about Mungiki? Who are they? What do they represent and what are their plans for themselves and for Kenya at large?

What is Mungiki?

Mungiki began as a traditionalist African sect founded by one Maina Njenga around 1985. Interestingly, Mungiki did not begin in Central Province but actually began in the Rift Valley, specifically, the areas around Laikipia and Baringo before spreading to parts of Nyandarua. As a matter of fact, among Maina Njenga’s childhood neighbours were families from the Kalenjin ethnic group.

1990s: Ethnic clashes

In the 1990s, Kikuyus living in the Rift Valley came under heavy attack for opposing President Daniel arap Moi. Families were killed, homes burnt and farms looted. Mungiki mobilized groups of Kikuyu youth for self defence. The attempt won the group much admiration especially amongst the displaced Kikuyu. Many of the displaced moved into urban slums in Central Province and Nairobi. By the late 1990s, Mungiki had grown so much that former President Moi began warning against it.

1997 – 2003: Economic and social crisis

Kenya underwent a severe economic and social crisis in the late 1990s. The government was broke, civil servants were laid off and private sector companies were leaving the country. Economic liberalization meant that price controls were lifted on basic commodities. Globalization and the influx of foreign values put further strains on Kenyan society.

Jobs were impossible to get and professionals left the country in droves. Public schools were privatized and the children of the poor ended up on the streets. Public clinics were shut for lack of drugs and doctors. The police were affected by the economic downturn and crime went out of control. In the slums, the State ceased to exist.

Amidst this situation, Mungiki emerged to control crime, collect garbage and provide justice in domestic and other disputes. Mungiki provided informal jobs for its members in transport and retail business. In return, residents of the slums were obliged to pay Mungiki a fixed amount of money for each household, business and motor vehicle.

2002: Politicization of Mungiki

In 2002, Moi was grooming Uhuru Kenyatta to succeed him for the presidency. Uhuru had little chance of winning and in desperation, Moi convinced the Mungiki leadership to back his choice. Uhuru was defeated by Mwai Kibaki, his baptismal godfather.

2003 – 2009: Kibaki restores state authority

Once in power, Kibaki attempted to restore the authority of the State but Mungiki had gotten used to operating in a lawless environment. To Mungiki, the State was interfering with their livelihoods. In 2007, Kibaki’s administration launched the War on Mungiki. It is believed that thousands of Kikuyu youth have been secretly killed by government forces.

What is Mungiki’s agenda?

The goal of Mungiki is to overthrow the current political and economic elite and replace them with a system of government modelled along African values. Mungiki blames the government, the rich, the church and the politicians for misery in Kenya. Most Mungiki members live in absolute poverty. Many others have been victims of ethnic clashes where they lost everything they owned. To them, Mungiki offers a sense of security in numbers.

Does Mungiki want to kill other Kenyan tribes?

There have been few instances when Mungiki attacked other tribes. This was during the ethnic clashes of the 1990s and during the post election violence of 2008. Mungiki were responding to a perception that Kikuyu peasants had been abandoned by their leaders.

All Kenyan tribes are affected by poverty. What is special about the Kikuyu?

Since the 19th century, Central Province has seen extensive violence against its people. The British sent soldiers to push the Kikuyu out of fertile land to make way for coffee and tea plantations. The Mau Mau war of the 1950s is still a case study of colonial repression. Thousands of Kikuyu were detained and tortured. Their families were confined into fortified villages whose conditions resembled those of concentration camps. Since independence, the crime rate in Central Province has been noticeably higher compared to other parts of Kenya. The ethnic clashes of the 1990s created a generation of angry Kikuyu youths willing to use violence.

Because of historical reasons, a group like Mungiki was more likely to emerge among the Kikuyu than among other Kenyan tribes.

Is Mungiki owned by politicians?

Most Kikuyu politicians are from the upper and middle classes, whereas the membership of Mungiki is predominantly from the poor. The two classes see each other as a problem but their interests occasionally converge. A good example is the post election violence of 2008, where Kikuyu politicians sought help from Mungiki following the government’s failure to stop ethnic clashes.

Does the Nairobi Chronicle support Mungiki?

No, we do not support Mungiki. However, abducting and killing its members will not solve the Mungiki menace. Experience from Latin America shows that condoning government death squads is a mistake because they eventually start targetting anybody opposing the government. In certain countries, death squads turned against their former masters.


The roots of Mungiki are complex, and stretch back a hundred years. It has to do with colonialism, Mau Mau, poverty, oppression and globalization. Mungiki is the product of a failed state under the leadership of a cruel elite.

Political earthquakes as Uhuru and Ruto get cosy

Though there have been rumours about it, there’s now confirmation of an alliance between Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in readiness for the 2012 General Elections.

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta

By any standards, campaigning three years before an election is premature at best and callous at worst. It does appear that Kenyan politicians learnt nothing from last year’s near civil war and the political chess game continues.

Amidst these moves, the plight of Kenyans is hopelessly forgotten. Alignments are shifting like the ocean waves as political heavyweights weigh their options. Millions of shillings are exchanging hands as people who struck billions in previous administrations gear up for the big race.

The likes of Martha Karua, high in ideals but low in finances, can only hope to cut a deal with the big boys. Will she be satisfied with the post of Prime Minister or Vice President in a Uhuru-Ruto or Saitoti government? Or will she link up with current Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka?

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were on opposing sides during the 2007 General Elections. In reality, they have more in common with each other than with anybody else. They were both mentored by ex-President Daniel arap Moi in the KANU party. They are both approaching middle age and wish to seize the reigns of power before old age catches up. And to achieve their goals, they are willing to do whatever it takes.

Bearing in mind the enmity between Ruto’s Kalenjin tribe and Uhuru’s Kikuyu ethnic group not so long ago, the alliance has been received with disbelief. Both Uhuru and Ruto are implicated in ethnic massacres, with Ruto linked to Kalenjin warriors and Uhuru accused of planning reprisal attacks in Nakuru and Naivasha. Both of them are likely to face the International Criminal Court to answer charges of crimes against humanity. Today, the move by the two not-so-youthful politicians to join forces has rocked the country’s leadership from State House to the grassroots.

Luo Nyanza, long considered Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s backyard, has not been spared the onslaught of the Uhuru – Ruto alliance. Already, several Members of Parliament from Raila’s Luo tribe have responded amiably to overtures from Uhuru – Ruto. Politicians who lost their seats in the last election, and who blame Raila for their predicament, have seen an opportunity to hit back at the Luo titan.

The rapprochement between Uhuru and Ruto has perplexed ordinary people from the Kikuyu and Kalenjin tribes. It was just the other day that the two tribes were butchering each other with machetes, bows, arrows and stones. Churches were burnt, homes looted, women raped and children killed. In some places, hostility is so high that the two tribes dare not live together. This may frustrate the works of Uhuru – Ruto.

It is highly unlikely that Ruto can get Kikuyu votes because they believe Ruto incited the Kalenjin against them. Hundreds of Kikuyu were killed in Ruto’s parliamentary constituency as he insisted that there would be no peace until his preferred candidate, Raila Odinga, assumed the presidency.

While the Kikuyu have a vast array of presidential candidates to choose from, including Uhuru, Prof Saitoti, Vice President Kalonzo and Martha Karua, the Kalenjin can only choose between Raila and Ruto.

Though they voted massively for Raila in 2007, the Kalenjin are disappointed. Grievances include the Mau Forest issue, failure to shield Kalenjin militants from prosecution and failure to provide top jobs to the Kalenjin elite. Rising costs of farm inputs coupled with plunging prices for farm produce have forced the Kalenjin to explore other leadership options. Currently, they have Ruto, or a person close to Ruto such as Uhuru Kenyatta. However, Uhuru does not inspire much confidence among Kenyans.

As the Uhuru – Ruto axis of evil shapes up, other presidential candidates are not taking chances. Professor George Saitoti is currently on a behind-the-scenes campaign to recruit leading politicians from Central, Eastern and Coast provinces. With immense financial reserves, Saitoti has no problem inducing followers with gifts. His current position as Minister for Internal Security is also serving him well, as it grants him access to President Mwai Kibaki.

Martha Karua is however not doing well. She simply lacks the financial clout of Uhuru, Ruto and Saitoti. She is fighting a brave campaign traversing all provinces in Kenya but, short of cataclysmic change, the most she can expect is to bargain for a seat from the top guns.

As events unfold, where is Kalonzo Musyoka?

Kalonzo is said to be playing it cool. Despite vilification from Raila’s ODM, Kalonzo’s cards are looking pretty good. Kalonzo is not tainted with corruption scandals or ethnic massacres. A trained lawyer, Kalonzo is diplomatic, smooth talking and amicable. In the 2007 campaigns, Kalonzo talked of getting to the presidency through a miracle that will take him past every other challenger. Perhaps, Kalonzo is taking a back seat knowing that in Kenya, anything is possible.

After all, if Uhuru and Ruto can come together in spite of everything, who knows what the future has in store?


Previous article: Why Uhuru and Ruto will face The Hague