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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dealing A Death Blow To Tribalism: - Introduction

What is in a question? “What’s your name? Which part of Kenya are you from? Where were your parents born? Where do you live?” all seemingly harmless questions asked without forethought of malice or pre-conceived intention of harm right?Right....that is, up until now in 2008
The mask has been lowered to reveal the ugly side of the same questions but is this the true face of Kenya or is there more to those questions than meets the eye?
Over the next few weeks I will take a 3 part exploratory journey into tribalism -the silent elephant sharing the room with families right across both the have and havenots homes of Kenya- from a very limited 21st century point of view. Those of you expecting history lessons this is not a school I am no teacher someni vijana. Those with opinions to express you are welcome whether they be divergent or in agreement with my own. Those of you with nothing constructive to add to the posts thank you for making Kumekucha traffic extremely high the past fortnight but the world wide web is unlimited don’t bother stopping to read my posts I recommend either Chris or Vikii or Taabu or Derek or Phil or Sue or Sayra or Danileve or Ritch or PKW or Kalamari's posts- any of these other excellent numerous bloggers in Kumekucha will suit you just fine
Like MLK I too have a dream-Tribalism must die a natural death in my generation
Kenya, God is on our side. Brace yourselves here we go...Kumekucha


Anonymous said...

Luke, thanx for that post and I want you to be a passive witness to some of the posts I made here last year.

That Kenya is a tribalist society.

Luke, in Kenya, everything we do is so much trivialised along tribal lines that it ends up being microscoped in certain areas to no one's benefit.

If you have ever visited Nyahururu Town, you will understand what I mean. In Nyahururu, the road that runs through the town, bisects the Kikuyu communities living there into two.

Muranga on one end and Nyeri on the other. So much so that the politics in this place runs deep to the extent that a child sent to the shops to fetch a matchbox cannot cross the road to buy it on the other side. He will return home and say there is no matchbox. That is the grim picture that we have to endure.

Then take a trip down to the Kisii using the Ntulele route along Kisii/Massai border and the problems that have been there over the years. If a cow crosses the bridge to the other side, it requires some sort of dialogue to ensure that it is returned safely without a fight.

All thes will go down to our bitter colonial past. It is so bitter that these elections only served to show the world how fragile the situation has been.

The land problem that has now been witnessed in the country was dangling like the Sword of Damocles and many of us never realised that the political comments we often make really pricked some societies that felt oppressed.

Come to think of tribalism...when NARC won over Kanu in 2002, why was there no problem and that was a time when there was a genuine reason (if there is any) for the Kalenjin communities to rise against the Kikuyu in Eldoret and other parts of the country?



Anonymous said...

Thank Luke. I feel very divided right now. I love my culture, my language, our history. But I am beginning to wish there were no such thing as tribe.

If you are a poor Kenyan, chances are you have much more in common with other poor Kenyans of all tribes, than you do with a rich Kenyan of your own tribe. These rich politicians marry across tribe all the time. Why do poor people allow themselves to be used?

I think that the number one encouragment to tribalism is the state. Why, after more than 40 years of independence, do we have a pass system? Why does the state list a person's tribe on his ID? To make it easy for people (including the state) to commit genocide?!

These are my thoughts, random though they are.

Good luck with your endeavor!

Shah said...

Tribalism in Kenya is a known fact and extends to Indians and foreigners.

I remember one time Moi commented that tribalism would bring Kenya down to it`s knees. As soon as he said that, he appointed all the parastal managing directors from his Kalenjin tribe.

Should Kenya really be heading to that direction?

Not Until such a time when Kenya will stop serving the interests of the west,and embark on nation building sharing the scarce resources.
It`s unfortunate that the western countries allow corrupt leaders to do business with them and also encourage them to siphone billions of dollars in foreing banks, while the common man survives on less than a dollar a day.
For example an MP in Kenya earns $160,000 a year equivalent to Kshs.1, 920,000 per year or $13,000 a month. plus allowances, while in a developed country like Canada MP`s and others earn as follows;
The base salary for all MPs is $69,564 per year in canada. As well, each MP has a non-taxable expense allowance of at least $22,950 per yr (it may be higher, depending on the MP's riding). MPs also get a housing allowance of $12,000 per yr. for accommodation in Ottawa .

On top of their base salaries, some members of parliament receive extra pay:

Prime Minister $75,582 per year Kshs. 906,984 far much less than an MP in Kenya a third world country that gets AID from Canada.
Cabinet Minister $50,286
Secretary of State $37,715
Leader of the Opposition $53,040
Other Party Leaders $31,820
Parliamentary Secretary $11,322
Speaker of the House $53,040

Considering Canada is a developed country, Should Kenyan corrupt leaders really be our custodians?

It`s a shame and i would urge the western world to think about the common man first, before doing any business with this power,money hungry people who have no value for human life.

I would also urge the educated people hiding abroad should to go back to Kenya and build the nation.

Moi regime is over i`m sure the majority of the intellectuals run away during Moi`s regime.

Anonymous said...


My name is Simon Seis, and i said above that the country is gone and the only way is for kibaki to call for a re-run. I dont think he will do that because we are dealing with a man who has no idea how to face a problem head-on. Kibaki fears unrolling his popular long sleaved-shirt because he hates them getting dirty.

Who can save us out of this mess? As a devout catholic I just through away my sunday best and decided that hata kanisa ikae. I was so disgusted by my role model's(H.E.Njue's) stand on this issue that I vowed never to help in my parish or even help serve the mass. Its that bad. In short, the church took their stand ages ago and i refuse to be part of it.

Xris my question again to you, has this but just slightly changed your perception against say a kyuk, luo or a mkamba? I hope it hasn't because just 5years ago i couldn't notice that i work with a mkamba and that my boss is a luo with a very friendly kyuk messenger. But there we are, thanks to Mr Kibaki

Anonymous said...

Thanks Luke. I share your dream.

I see nothing wrong with our diverse ethnicities and good governance along with the equitable distribution of national wealth would go a long way in reducing ethnic hatred.

Why in this day and age does poverty of the North Eastern - Nyanza type still exist?

Why in this day and age does famine of the Turkana type occur every other year?

Anonymous said...

This, fellas, is the kind of introspection that's going to help us move forward as a country. We're victims of our own short-sightedness: seeing our neighbour through the tribal prism is defeatist. Lets keep it coming until we get the message to sink into our psyches.


Proud Kikuyu Woman said...

I share your optimisim Luke. But lets not wait for tribalism to die a natural death. It has formed this habit of hibernating until the rains of elections fall. Lets kill it and confirm its dead. Now, that is the answer, how? is the question.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

@ proud kikuyu woman can u have such a nick n wish tribalisim to die a natural death????


Anonymous said...

There's hope Luke, some us have a rainbow ancestry that owes no allegiance to meaningless tribes. The only homegrown language my siblings and I have ever known is Kiswahili. Proud kikuyu woman, why don't you lead by example and be a proud KENYAN woman?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

11:28 AM

Simon Says,

My reply: Up yours!!

Dont you see the mood of the country?

1.) Kibaki is not going to compromise.
2.) That makes kumekucha the only voice available to wanjiku
3.) We are in a homestretch with kibaki so much so that he should eat alot of sea fish otherwise his heart will just stop beating.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this simply great post. I have an observation.Please don' call it tribal. It is an observation.
Has anyoe seen any similarities between our kiuk brothers and British colonialist? Here it is:
Everywhere the british colonised they gave a british name i.e. New York (people from yorkshire in north England), New Jersey people from jersey - Channel islands UK), Manchester Alabama (people from Manchester North East England) etc.
Our kiuk neighbours have the same colonising behaviour! Where they settle in becomes a New Kiambaa in Eldoret, Nyakinywa in Kolongolo Kitale, Gituamba in Mt. Elgon, in Kisauni, Kisumu, Homabay etc. They do not intergrate into existing community. The areas they join already had names but they kiuks delete these already existing names and rename these areas. This is colonisation! Neo-colonialism - Ukoloni mamboleo.
This does not help in intergration with the location community as the new neighburs are issolated and belong to a different group with a new name and agenda.
has anyone observed this? I stand corrected.

Taabu said...

Nice pitch Bw Luka. But here we go again and true to tradition Kenyans never disappoint. Look how is parting you on the back and see the hack saw hidden in the palm. Jinjoism and grandstanding are our hallmark. Well you sumed it all WHAT IS IN A NAME? In my mind it is a cluster of letters cobbled together to spell an indentity (artificial that is). But some are trying too hard to literally measure as TRIBAL GATEKEEPERS. Who is fooling whom here? I don't know, anyone out there please help.

uncle joe said...

It is not with surprise that I read the view that Mwai Kibaki is not the legitimate president of Kenya. This view is so pervasive that even many who supported the president have been deceived into taking it up.That it is so widespread is a tribute to the ODM’s knack for lies and its efficiency at pushing them as truth. It is also in no small part a result of the political ineptitude of the PNU and State House.The view is predicated on two strands of thought. The first, published by the ODM and a perpetuation of its hateful and divisive anti-GEMA strategy, declares that President Kibaki won only one of Kenya’s provinces and is therefore not the true president of all Kenya. The second, declares the election stolen by the incumbent, and rather cheekily insists that the extension of his tenancy at State House is a ‘coup’.

National Support
This first argument is only one of the few in the litany of lies the ODM has rammed through a servile, biased media. The facts speak for themselves, Mwai Kibaki won 4 out of Kenya’s provinces and MPs running on pro-Kibaki platforms won more than 100 seats with victories in every single province. None of his rivals even came close to the same level of support. Kibaki also won a sizeable number of votes even in the provinces where he was overall second best, reaching the 25% mark in every province but Nyanza, where he still managed to poll 17% of the vote. The ODM candidate on the other hand posted a measly 2% and 5% in Central and Eastern provinces, and managed 25% in only six of the provinces.

‘But the bulk of the president’s votes were GEMA votes,’ comes the reply. Well, that may be true but the formulation GEMA itself makes into one what are properly a multitude of ethnicities. More importantly however, our democracy as currently fashioned makes no demands on the ethnicity of voters desiring merely that the victorious candidate have the approval of at least 25% from five provinces to underline his nationalist credentials. To reiterate, it is not communities, faiths or regions that vote. It is individuals.

This is no trivial point. The ODM has taken even before the election to making the case that their candidate was the People’s Candidate, Kenya’s candidate. That was all very well for that period when presentation and marketing were more important than truth; but in this the post-election period, the party and its supporters would do well to realise that by any estimation fully 4 million Kenyans declared their support for each of the two leading candidates. So it is that even now,as the party and its supporters persist in saying that the Kenyan people have been robbed, the Kenyan people are angry, they must remember that there are some Kenyans a substantial number, a majority even who actually voted for Kibaki - and who rejected the ODM.

For starters, it is most irresponsible, if typical of the ODM to neglect to take into account the votes of these 4 million, they are after all just GEMA, Gikuyu, Embu, Meru, Mbeere, Tharaka; you know those people, not Kenyans. This diligently crafted Us vs Them dichotomy explains why the ODM’s leaders have not yet seen fit to visit, or even declare peace with the communities that are being victimised by the outbreaks of violence- communities which in the pre-election campaigns they worked very hard to demonise. When it is not demonising them directly, the ODM and its agents continually seek to invite the GEMA to join Kenyans in voting ODM, proposing all the time that to vote differently is unKenyan.

This is part of the reason for the renewal in Kikuyu nationalism, a whole community has been forced to the wall by the invective of three years and two political campaigns. We stand in our millions -along with Kenyans of every ethnic persuasion in rejection of ethnic chauvinism- and declare to the ODM that we are adamant in our support for President Kibaki and that we too retain the inalienable right to the appellation, Kenyan. We respect that there are those, our brothers and sisters from across the country, with different political persuasions, but never in a million years would we think to pretend that those opinions made them less Kenyan than we are. If it is the sheer numbers in Central Kenya that intimidate the opposition into taking this position, also published as the 41 versus 1 strategy, then the ODM have to now get to their grassroots and urge a population boom. Anything else hurts all of us, and the victims of this hatred will not just be the Gikuyu. The economic and social effects of this policy of excluding one group from the whole will be profound, and as many in Western Kenya are finding, life without the other is not exactly a bed of roses.

The end of this hatred is especially urgent for ODM for, in light of the premeditated and barbaric ODM action in the Rift Valley and across the country, it is unlikely that too many Kenyans, even those who had previously aligned themselves with the party will be particularly drawn to it and its divisive politics any more. The consequences of all the strident screeching about Majimbo and the theory that the Gikuyu hogged all the country’s resources have finally manifested themselves.

Election irregularities

I find it most unfair to look merely at one set of election irregularities while turning a blind eye to the other. Such a predisposition is not only unhelpful, but declares a bias that precludes a just assessment of the elections. It is not unlinked to the over-arching theory of Gikuyu hegemony as it dictates that only one side in the election had the wherewithal to interfere with the vote.

The media and observers seem to have focused merely on crimes committed during the final vote tallying while ignoring the fact that there were several irregularities in ODM zones.

For starters, there was no free will in the vote in Nyanza. Long before the election begun, candidates who would have stood against the ODM nominees were compelled to stand down and those who resisted were demonised and accused of perfidy to the tribe. There were prior to the elections, outbreaks of violence against the disloyal, outbreaks which led to the displacement and non-participation of such persons. There are also credible reports that women and those from communities likely predisposed to vote different than the ODM were obstructed from exercising their voting rights by hooligans either inspired by or hired by the ODM. As the ODM candidate demanded at a campaign rally in Eldoret, ‘hatutaki madoadoa’.

Even worse, and as confirmed by KEDOF in their final vote report, agents representing parties allied to Mwai Kibaki and Kalonzo Musyoka were denied entry into vote counting and vote tallying centres, including most famously Nyayo Stadium where what had been widely billed a close race between Raila Odinga and Stanley Livondo was turned into a rout of suspiciously monumental proportions. This as Uhuru Kenyatta complained, came after Livondo and his group were locked out of the stadium.

Some have asked why the government did not then use the police to back up the blocked voters and insist that the opposition agents be allowed entry at these events. The truth is that the tense pre-election atmosphere did not allow for any use of force by the government, indeed any such moves would have been seen as persecution and would have cost the government votes at the election. Those asking this forget that there were already killings in Nyanza of police personnel prior to the election and that it is this state of violence that ensured that Kibaki and Kalonzo affiliated agents were wary of performing their duties there. Importantly also, any such interference would have undermined the independence of the ECK which was the organisation charged with the proper conduct of the elections. The instruments of legal and legitimate use of force are restricted to use in the protection of the polling station and its environs from the vagaries of the contestants and their agents.

Finally, it is most categorically not true that it is impossible to conduct a re-tally of the forms sent to Nairobi by the poll centres around the country. The agents of all the parties contesting the election carry with them copies of the results announced in these centres and should retain copies of the electoral forms. These can be availed for a national re-tallying, which as the Justice Minister Martha Karua told the BBC’s Hard Talk, the government is very willing to facilitate when ordered by a court of law. Karua herself was part of a group of politicians including George Nyamweya, James Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o who sat through the night of the 29th of December with ECK officials and went over the vote tallies from across the land. They subtracted the entire element of suspicious added on votes that the ODM had complained about and Kibaki’s total was adjusted accordingly.

When it was found that the vote still indicated a Kibaki victory, the ODM side sought the very next day to reverse their previous urge for the expeditious publication of the result (remember the ODM had on the 28th and 29th been putting pressure on Kivuitu to announce the victor) and instead began a campaign (Raila even stormed Kivuitu’s home at 0700) to have Kivuitu delay the announcement. Commentators seem to have forgotten that Musalia Mudavadi had already announced the election for the ODM or that there were riots in Kisumu that demanded the election result be announced. Now it seems we only focus on the pressure from the PNU and ODM-K, forgetting all the time the even greater pressure from the ODM the previous day.

As the leaked memo from World Bank country director Colin Bruce avers, the facts are clear. The ODM is only too aware that such a re-assessment would make clear that they lost the election, and are as a result wary of appealing to the courts for such a re-tallying. Mwai Kibaki is the legal, but also the legitimate president of Kenya, which fact will soon be proved in a court of law

Anonymous said...

@uncle joe, your folly and breathtaking ignorance would be hilarious were it not so depressing.

Taabu said...

Uncle Joe said

....Mwai Kibaki won 4 out of Kenya’s provinces and MPs running on pro-Kibaki platforms won more than 100 seats with victories in every single province...

Well Bw Walker you must have over indulged on the beverage bearing your name. Otherwise you are an alien from mass enjoying giving uninvited lectures to earthlings. Congratulations for the eloquenlence albeit of the street creed. Remove the element of hatred from your post and you will surely remain objective. Failure to which yours amounts to engaging in reverse logic and running on empty with reasoning by displacement as your forte.

FYI a wrong is a wrong is a wrong and two wrongs never made a right. Or do they from your planet of residence? You lecture on simple majority is so BASE it beggers light that is suffocated by the heat you generate under your own collar. You chose to sink deep into monologue bereft of relevance to the original post.

Take a walk and smell the coffee, Kenya belongs to all of us who are mere biological accidents polpulating this beautiful geograpgical accident. Remove the blinkers and address the root cause and stop enjoying the circular motions that make you superlatively rebrand your starting point after every revolution. You are a master of and double speak suffering from an acute bout of SUPERIORITY SIMPLEX. You never heal a wound by ignoring, or do you?

Anonymous said...

Kenyans dont be optimistic.

Tribalism will go on as long we remain primitive in the head. I have been indeed wondering why most of the bloggers are influenced by their tribes, although they are educated and are exposed to the world.

No!No! primitivity has nothing to do with education at all. To fight primitivity you need to get a good upbringing. Either self or by parents. Few Kenyan parents are able to enlighten us on the topic TRIBALISM. We can make it ourselves. BUT Moi knew that tribal conflicts were good for his survival. He introduced 8-4-4 and killed High school, which enabled us move to all corners of Kenya to know how Mwangi, Makau, Odhiambo,Salim, Ontomwa, Arap Ruto, etc is surviving.

I have realised that people like Kibaki, Murungi, Karua, Murungaru have never stayed in Kakamega or Kisumu or Voi for a month. They dont actually know Kenya and dont trust them either. You remember the Meru headmaster who suspended the new Form Ones because they were not circumcirsed? Is this HM or Principal an educated and an enligtened person? He has a degree from KU Ok, but is his head really working, fellow Kenyans?

Tribalism can die a natural death when we reintroduce A-Levels, in which the students are expected to visit schools outside their provinces. There are many other ways, but do our politicians have interest? Kibaki definitely doesnt have. And he must go, the sooner the better for Kenya, ALL Kenyans.


Anonymous said...

To Uncle Joe, Figure you are one of the many kiuks that have refused to call a spade a spade. Kenyans just didnt want to do another 5 years under kibaki. Nothing to do with his tribe but his record in office meant that people were not happy with im and wanted a change.

You can spin and spin the story however you like but my friend, Kenya will not be the same again. We have lived in peace all years round and this group of thugs comes in with their tribal chieftaincy agenda and spoils it for the lot. iN SHORT ALOT OF OUR PROBLEMS WILL BE SOLVED ONCE THE KIKUYUS SEE THE LIGHT. Talk the truth all the time and dont buy to the ideas of karua and michuki. Their children are all abroad and dont care about being GEMA for that matter. They are just using you to make you give them the power. You know I can see a kikuyu kingdom soon.. with their own president and all. If they cant get along with other Kenyans that might be the best solution. Alternatively we could move them to Somalia where the land is still underpopulated and they could practice their art of feeling special there. The Kikuyus in short have to learn to live peacefully and respectively with their neighbours. iN THE END ITS THEM WHO SUFFER MOST FOR NOT DOING SO.

5th Estate said...


Bravo Uncle Joe, arrogant daydreams should be dismissed as such. I suggest that after this election the ODMers should brace themselves for a serious economic rethink and boycott, like minds should trade with like minds – ask the kaburus of South Africa, This will be internal within our borders. I will be elaborating on this point more in my coming posts, ODMers are the majority and we should start organising ourselves to use that leverage for the benefit of all, we should start looking at ways of empowering ourselves by trading within ourselves, when this takes root all else will fall in place.

Wyandanch stock exchanges will be floated soon to harness our local capital [ hate Kama in Oruro ] and direct it to deserving wananchi [shops , garages , matatus, furniture shops etc etc ] where its deserved most , not for ostentatious consumption that is rampant in Kenya while the majority whose backs are broken creating that wealth are left to fend for themselves. We still do not know the owners of equity
Bank and the details of its financing that is a shame because, financial rules are there to assure transparency and they should not be changed at the whims of individuals who appointments and motivations are suspect – that chapter has not been closed.

CAPITAL SHOULD BE USED TO EMPOWER PEOPLE NOT ABUSE PEOPLE, it’s a high time we develop our own infrastructure and stop relaying on people who view and treat the rest of Kenyans as aliens and children.

Like minds say YEA! and take back your country WATCH MY SPACE

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Kivuitu letter
An Open Letter to Samuel Kivuitu, Chair of the Electoral Commission of Kenya
Mr. Kivuitu,

We've never met. It's unlikely we ever will. But, like every other Kenyan, I will remember you for the rest of my life. The nausea I feel at the mention of your name may recede. The bitterness and grief will not.

You had a mandate, Mr. Kivuitu. To deliver a free, fair and transparent election to the people of Kenya. You and your commission had 5 years to prepare. You had a tremendous pool of resources, skills, technical support, to draw on, including the experience and advice of your peers in the field - leaders and experts in governance, human rights, electoral process and constitutional law. You had the trust of 37 million Kenyans.

We believed it was going to happen. On December 27th, a record 65% of registered Kenyan voters rose as early as 4am to vote. Stood in lines for up to 10 hours, in the sun, without food, drink, toilet facilities. As the results came in, we cheered when minister after powerful minister lost their parliamentary seats. When the voters of Rift Valley categorically rejected the three sons of Daniel Arap Moi, the despot who looted Kenya for 24 years. The country spoke through the ballot, en masse, against the mindblowing greed, corruption, human rights abuses, callous dismissal of Kenya's poor, that have characterised the Kibaki administration.

But Kibaki wasn't going to go. When it became clear that you were announcing vote tallies that differed from those counted and confirmed in the constituencies, there was a sudden power blackout at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, where the returns were being announced. Hundreds of GSU (General Service Unit) paramilitaries suddenly marched in. Ejected all media except the government mouthpiece Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.

Fifteen minutes later, we watched, dumbfounded, as you declared Kibaki the winner. 30 minutes later, we watched in sickened disbelief and outrage, as you handed the announcement to Kibaki on the lawns of State House. Where the Chief Justice, strangely enough, had already arrived. Was waiting, fully robed, to hurriedly swear him in.

You betrayed us. Perhaps we'll never know when, or why, you made that decision. One rumor claims you were threatened with the execution of your entire family if you did not name Kibaki as presidential victor. When I heard it, I hoped it was true. Because at least then I could understand why you chose instead to plunge our country into civil war.

I don't believe that rumor any more. Not since you appeared on TV, looking tormented, sounding confused, contradicting yourself. Saying, among other things, that you did not resign because you "did not want the country to call me a coward", but you "cannot state with certainty that Kibaki won the election". Following that with the baffling statement "there are those around him [Kibaki] who should never have been born." The camera operator had a sense of irony - the camera shifted several times to the scroll on your wall that read: "Help Me, Jesus."

As the Kenya Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists rescinds the Jurist of the Year award they bestowed on you, as the Law Society of Kenya strikes you from their Roll of Honour and disbars you, I wonder what goes through your mind these days.

Do you think of the 300,000 Kenyans displaced from their homes, their lives? Of the thousands still trapped in police stations, churches, any refuge they can find, across the country? Without food, water, toilets, blankets? Of fields ready for harvest, razed to the ground? Of granaries filled with rotting grain, because no one can get to them? Of the Nairobi slum residents of Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Dandora, ringed by GSU and police, denied exit, or access to medical treatment and emergency relief, for the crime of being poor in Kenya?

I bet you haven't made it to Jamhuri Park yet. But I'm sure you saw the news pictures of poor Americans, packed like battery chickens into their stadiums, when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Imagine that here in Nairobi, Mr. Kivuitu. 75,000 Kenyans, crammed into a giant makeshift refugee camp. Our own Hurricane Kivuitu-Kibaki, driven by fire, rather than floods. By organized militia rather than crumbling levees. But the same root cause - the deep, colossal contempt of a tiny ruling class for the rest of humanity. Over 60% of our internal refugees are children. The human collateral damage of your decision.

And now, imagine grief, Mr. Kivuitu. Grief so fierce, so deep, it shreds the muscle fibres of your heart. Violation so terrible, it grinds down the very organs of your body, forces the remnants through your kidneys, for you to piss out in red water. Multiply that feeling by every Kenyan who has watched a loved one slashed to death in the past week. Every parent whose child lies, killed by police bullets, in the mortuaries of Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret. Everyone who has run sobbing from a burning home or church, hearing the screams of those left behind. Every woman, girl, gang-raped.

Do you sleep well these days, Mr. Kivuitu? I don't. I have nightmares. I wake with my heart pounding, slow tears trickling from the corners of my eyes, random phrases running through my head:

Remember how we felt in 2002? It's all gone.
(Muthoni Wanyeki, ED of Kenya Human Rights Commission, on the night of December 30th, 2007, after Kibaki was illegally sworn in as president).

There is a crime here that goes beyond recrimination. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolise.
(John Steinbeck, American writer, on the betrayal of internally displaced Americans, in The Grapes of Wrath)

Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi....kila siku tuwe na shukrani
("Justice be our shield and defender....every day filled with thanksgiving" Lines from Kenya's national anthem)

I soothe myself back to patchy sleep with my mantra in these days, as our country burns and disintegrates around us:

Courage comes.
Courage comes from cultivating.
Courage comes from cultivating the habit.
Courage comes from cultivating the habit of refusing.
Courage comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one's actions.
(Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner).

I wake with a sense of unbearable sadness. Please let it not be true.....

Meanwhile, the man you named President cowers in the State House, surrounded by a cabal of rapacious power brokers, and a bevy of sycophantic unseated Ministers and MPs, who jostle for position and succession. Who fuel the fires by any means they can, to keep themselves important, powerful, necessary. The smoke continues to rise from the torched swathes of Rift Valley, the gutted city of Kisumu, the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa. The Red Cross warns of an imminent cholera epidemic in Nyanza and Western Kenya, deprived for days now of electricity and water. Containers pile up at the Port of Mombasa, as ships, unable to unload cargo, leave still loaded. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, the DRC, all dependent on Kenyan transit for fuel and vital supplies, grind to a halt.

A repressive regime rolls out its panoply of oppression against legitimate dissent. Who knew our police force had so many sleek, muscled, excellently-trained horses, to mow down protestors? Who guessed that in a city of perennial water shortages, we had high-powered water cannons to terrorize Kenyans off the streets?

I am among the most fortunate of the fortunate. Not only am I still whole, alive, healthy, mobile; not only do I have food, shelter, transport, the safety of those I love; I have the gift of work. I have the privilege to be in the company of the most brilliant, principled, brave, resilient Kenyans of my generation. To contribute whatever I can as we organize, analyse, strategize, mobilize, draw on everything we know and can do, to save our country. I marvel at the sheer collective volume of trained intelligence, of skill, expertise, experience, in our meetings. At the ability to rise above personal tragedy - families still hostage in war zones, friends killed, homes overflowing with displaced relatives - to focus on the larger picture and envisage a solution.

I listen to lawyers, social scientists, economists, youth activists, humanitarians; experts on conflict, human rights, governance, disaster relief; to Kenyans across every sector and ethnicity, and I think:

Is this what we have trained all our lives for? To confront this epic catastrophe, caused by a group of old men who have already sucked everything they possibly can out of Kenya, yet will cling until they die to their absolute power?

You know these people too, Mr. Kivuitu. The principled, brave, resilient, brilliant Kenyans. The idealists who took seriously the words we sang as schoolchildren, about building the nation. Some of them worked closely with you, right through the election. Some called you friend. You don't even have the excuse that Kibaki, or his henchmen, might offer - that of inhabiting a world so removed from ours that they cannot fathom the reality of ordinary Kenyans. You know of the decades of struggle, bloodshed, faith and suffering that went into creating this fragile beautiful thing we called the "democratic space in Kenya." So you can imagine the ways in which we engage with the unimaginable. We coin new similes:

lie low like a 16A (the electoral tally form returned by each constituency, many of which were altered or missing in the final count)

We joke about the Kivuitu effect - which turns internationalists, pan-Africanists, fervent advocates for the dissolution of borders, into nationalists who cry at the first verse of the national anthem:

Ee Mungu nguvu yetu
Ilete baraka kwetu
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi
Natukae na undugu
Amani na uhuru
Raha tupate na ustawi.

O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.

Rarely do we allow ourselves pauses, to absorb the enormity of our country shattered, in 7 days. We cry, I think, in private. At least I do. In public, we mourn through irony, persistent humor, and action. Through the exercise of patience, stamina, fortitude, generosity, that humble me to witness. Through the fierce relentless focus of our best energies towards challenges of stomach-churning magnitude.

We tell the stories that aren't making it into the press. The retired general in Rift Valley sheltering 200 displaced families on his farm. The Muslim Medical Professionals offering free treatment to anyone injured in political protest. We challenge, over and over again, with increasing weariness, the international media coverage that presents this as "tribal warfare", "ethnic conflict", for an audience that visualises Africa through Hollywood: Hotel Rwanda, The Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond.

I wish you'd thought of those people, when you made the choice to betray them. I wish you'd drawn on their courage, their integrity, their clarity, when your own failed you. I wish you'd had the imagination to enter into the lives, the dreams, of 37 million Kenyans.

But, as you've probably guessed by now, Mr. Kivuitu, this isn't really a letter to you at all. This is an attempt to put words to what cannot be expressed in words. To mourn what is too immense to mourn. A clumsy groping for something beyond the word 'heartbreak'. A futile attempt to communicate what can only be lived, moment by moment. This is a howl of anguish and rage. This is a love letter to a nation. This is a long low keening for my country.

Shailja Patel

5th Estate said...

Wanainchi stock exchanges

Anonymous said...

I am going to bed. Mad people have inaded this blog now. America is awake. see you tomorrow

Anonymous said...

Mad people can now enjoy their liberty on this blog. Continue posting copy and paste letters to Kivuitu. See you kesho when you get tired of intoxicating minds here.

5th Estate said...

WE HAVE TO SHAKE THE FOUNDATIONS OF THIS ARROGANCE THAT IS BREAKING OUR COUNTRY APART , all people are affected by this arrogance even the majority of our dear kikuyu brothers

Anonymous said...

What arrogance that a Luo will never rule Kenya or Kikuyus love themselves so much. Avaricious and selfless

Anonymous said...

Good night Uncle Joe , rest in peace

Anonymous said...

When one community dominates entirely; meaning the military the police and the cid that’s when Kenya will be in total peace.

At the moment everyone feels that his tribe can do it.

Am afraid that until things balance out in certain quarters we shall never be certain about tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

URGENT: 3000 NRA in Kenya ahead of rallies

Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 00:03:05 -0800 (PST)

Museveni on reuest by Mr. Kibaki has sent 3,000National Resistence Army troops to Kenya to assist Kibaki ahead of the ODM rallies. They left Uganda on the night of 12th January 2007 after a secrect consultation meeting among the NRA top oficials at the NRA headquarters near National Assembly in Kampala.

Meanwhile, PNU is supporting Mungiki and a section of Police officer develop petrol and other chemical bombs which will be thrown to some building in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa and put blame on ODM to justify an arrest of top ODM Pentagon members particularly Ruto and Raila.

Please inform all ODM supporters abouy this scheme.

Anonymous said...

URGENT: 3000 NRA in Kenya ahead of rallies

Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 00:03:05 -0800 (PST)

Museveni on reuest by Mr. Kibaki has sent 3,000National Resistence Army troops to Kenya to assist Kibaki ahead of the ODM rallies. They left Uganda on the night of 12th January 2007 after a secrect consultation meeting among the NRA top oficials at the NRA headquarters near National Assembly in Kampala.

Meanwhile, PNU is supporting Mungiki and a section of Police officer develop petrol and other chemical bombs which will be thrown to some building in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa and put blame on ODM to justify an arrest of top ODM Pentagon members particularly Ruto and Raila.

Please inform all ODM supporters abouy this scheme.

Anonymous said...

Wacha domo domo.

ati Nra upumbavu na ujinga

Anonymous said...

Does this remind you of the two death row convicts who escaped from jail just before elections . This one escaped too. Let me Guess who will be blamed fo thier murders aka refugee deaths. Its funny when such people are apprehended giving the governments a water tight case to prove thier side of the story they seem to escape quite easily. I am afraid there will be a big incident soon to distract attention to ANNAN talks. Our "4th Estate" will have it all over the place and guess who the GoK will blame, yes you are right. The monitor is quite a good source for the goings on between our borders. Some might call it Help.

Vikii said...

I agree Luke. Tribalism belongs to the past, but let us remember that it takes two to tango. Nobody is a fool, you cannot go insulting the Kikuyus all over and expect them to show you 'their pre mollars in genuine laughter'.

Luke, I talked about the same thing a couple days ago in Kenyaimagine. Land scarcity may be one of the causes of suspicion. BUT let us admit that tribalism is awoken by Politicians. That is the damn truth. Taking advantage of preliterate mobs and feeding lies to them so you can ascend to power for your own selfish motives. That's the plain truth. otherwise why should we always have ethnic tensions every electioneering period or immediately thereafter (After hearts are broken?) That's my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the institutions that ha failed miserably in Kenya is the do we claim to be a country with more than 60% christians and yet we do not follow the basic tenets of christianity of ..."loving your neighbor and doing unto others what you would like done unto you"...It is pathetic that the church also practices tribalism and so the problem we are experiencing in Kenya today. What makes Bishop Wanjiru et al think that they can lead better while in parliament and not by being leaders in the church? They act like common politicians led by greed for power. They have let us down. How do you explain the partisanship of Njue...the situation is just pathetic. We need to rise up and demand these "leaders" to act responsibly!!!

mugambis said...

here is a petition to the vatican to revoke cardinal njue's appointment please read.

chris said...

If you are new to the web, that's OK but please keep your ignorance to yourself. Kumekucha is NOT dying. Traffic figures are still permanently pointing North.

Only ignorant fools keep counting the comments to determine traffic, which go overboard mostly when some hired hand makes a comment that rubs people up the wrong way and then has the audacity to engage in a shouting match where they are basically saying nothing (in the process making dozens of useless comments).

This of course confirms that the space between the ears is empty and filled only with the notes they took at the NSIS school or something.

Kumekucha will never die.


chris said...


You and I started fighting this tribalism war a long time ago. It is all recorded here in Kumekucha (in writing).

Thanx for keeping up the good fight.

We shall prevail, we shall overcome... one day soon.


Anonymous said...

Such a vociferous defense Chris.
Lakini, I think they r right. Soon as the two idiots (Raila and Kibaki) settle their ambitions and make a deal, this site will be dead. Ua only hope Chris is to continue to inflame passions and appeal to the paranoid masses. I must admit there are plenty of those in both camps, so if u play ua cards well, u may be able to squeeze 3 maybe 4 months out of them. Lakini have the obituary speech for Kumekucha ready and waiting by February latest.

Taabu said...

@Aon @ 12.39 in retrospect I am willing to read your orbituary free. Just pass it over and as much as we will try to miss you I can guarantee you we won't succeed. Good riddance to the empty space separating your ears. You are such a parasitic guest here, take a walk, won't you aof?

Anonymous said...

Huh....Tribalism this is the thing that will kill this country unless someone does something fast. I am a luo and i am proud of who i am not that i ever wrote an application letter to be one. But for the past many years it never mattered who i was and where i came from until now where somebody wants to know ur two names for the sole reason of knowing what tribe you are.
But there is always a light in the tunnel, i have a very nice kikuyu boss who is very understanding and i tell anyone that i wouldn't trade her for anyone else.
Just yesterday i was reading the nation newspaper and i saw Wangari Maathai's commentary and i was like may God raise just 20 more like her in Central province. At the end of the day i have said it before and i will repeat it again 'arrogance and chest thumping' will not help anyone.
I have this habit for a long time i see Kimunya, Karua and Alfred Mutua on TV i press the mute buttton, so on Saturday when i read the nation i realised that i wasn't the only one Kwamchesti Makokha shares the same sentiments and it is not because of their tribe but coz of the nonsense that come from their mouth and after watching Michuki yesterday....He has joined my list too.....Life after birth is about choices and it is a choice that i have made...Last but not least a cjoice that i have made is to declare that Kenyans dont have a president


For those who think that kumekucha is another kenya times or citizen newspaper, they are living in the 19th century. Blogs will continue to be with us as long as the www is "on-air". You cannot fight technology. Who could imagine that the world would be a small place via the internet. Today i can simply google any news happening live in Alaska when am in Karumaindo via my mobile phone!!!TECHNOLOGY NEVER DIES, PEOPLE DO! KUMEKUCHA will outlive all of us as more and more african children have access to a PC.
Tribalism in kenya is promoted by primitive africans who see their countrymen as backward coz NYANI HAONI KUNDULE. As an africanist, it is my wish that one day we will judge our fellow africans by their character content and not their culture. Language forms an integral part of culture. Some people think that since their neighbors are rich, so they are. What a folly!This disease mostly affects our kyuk brothers who think that since michuki and karume own half of the land in kiambu, they collectively own the land. Tell me why we had MAU MAU? IT WAS ABOUT LAND. I have travelled around Mt. kenya from Thika road to karatina, nyeri, kiganjo, naro moru, nanyuki, timau, meru, chuka, embu, mwea and back to thika from makutano junction. There is so much land around mt. kenya but it is owned by a few individuals. the white man still owns so much land in mt.kenya. WHY? This is one of the reasons why we are having problems in our country today. Kenyatta grabbed so much land with his cronies leaving the majority of the kikuyus landless. Otherwise, how would you explain the migration of many kyuks to lands outside there native lands. Kibaki still owns a very huge land in Naro Moru stretching from the main road on kiganjo-nanyuki road upto the foot of mt.kenya. Why can he re-settle all those kyuks who were rendered landless by the mkoloni. Until we tell ourselves the TRUTH, we will continue slaughtering each other like savages. THE MAIN CAUSE OF CONFLICT IN KENYA TODAY IS LAND. UNTIL OUR KYUK BROTHERS AND SISTERS RISE UP AGAINST THE BIG LANDOWNERS IN THEIR MIDST, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO BE SLAUGHTERED IN R.V COZ OF LAND. Not that i promote ethnic cleansing, but ONLY THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE. LET THE KIKUYUS GET BACK THEIR GRABBED LANDS IN CENTRAL BEFORE THEY CAN CLAIM LAND BELONGING TO THE KALENJINS AND THE MAASAI WHOSE LAND (R.V) WAS GRABBED BY THE COLONIALISTS AND BY EXTENSION THE NEO-COLONIALISTS - KENYATTA, MOI, KIBAKI, SAITOTI, MICHUKI, KARUME, NYACHAE ET AL WHO OWN HALF THE ARABLE LAND IN KENYA.

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