As a boy in primary school I distinctly remember my dad driving me to school one morning with a big loaded gun on the floor of the empty front passenger seat. I was in Standard six at the time and I wondered what the problem was because I could “smell” the same tension and fear that had been in the air the year before when the then Nyandarus North MP JM Kariuki’s badly mutilated and charred remains had been discovered somewhere in Ngong Hills. That day school had closed at lunch time because everybody had expected serious trouble.
I remember wondering what the problem was this time round and making a point to read the newspapers that evening when I got home, which I did and found nothing to give me the faintest clue as to why my senior policeman dad was suddenly given to walking around armed to the teeth.
Years later the mystery was solved. He had rubbed the dreaded Kiambu mafia up the wrong way by stubbornly refusing to look the other way as smuggled coffee belonging to a member of the Kenyatta family was given police escort to Mombasa. Not even a call from the then police commissioner himself could get him to change his mind. (incidentally the commissioner’s exact words on the phone to the most principled man I know were; “I am very disappointed in you Mr ..........). I also learnt that during those frightening days my father never slept at home and would slip away to book himself into different hotels using assumed names, always armed and ready for anything.
I went through high school wondering what the hell was wrong with my dad. Why couldn’t he be like those other “cool” albeit corrupt dads who usually brought their kids to school with better-looking cars than our battered old Ford Escort and had a lot more money? After all there was no way that he could single-handedly stop all the corruption in Kenya.
My dad always said that the reason why he could not bear to accept a bribe or be corrupt was because there was no way he was going to live with it in his conscience. I often wondered what the conscience had to do with the pocket which is where one kept the fat bundle of crisp bank notes received from bribes. With the benefit of hindsight and after watching what finally became of all those corrupt colleagues of his, I now know exactly what he meant. Many of those “cool” dads are now six feet under. One of them lived his last months having to get terribly drunk just to get to sleep. Today I have great respect for that man and his principals. I am very proud to call him my dad.
This week I have found myself in exactly the same position he was in those many years ago. I have been on the run and worried sick about my personal safety. I now know precisely what he must have felt.
Mercifully I am currently in fairly safe territory (although I am not yet out of the woods kabisa) and as I write this, for the first time in days I do not have that sickening feeling at the pit of my stomach.
For the last 18 months I have been writing this blog from within the borders of our beautiful country. It has its advantages. Like the fact that I can mix with ordinary Kenyans at the grassroots and get their views. Or organize the poll that showed in the run up to the elections last year that ODM’s Raila Odinga would win 6 provinces out of the 8. Most of all it is easy to get a “feel” of exactly what is happening within the country. Now circumstances which I cannot give details of here (but have published a few more fascinating facts in my raw notes this week) have forced me to hurriedly leave.
It is rather fitting that on my last night in Nairobi two things happened. Firstly I had a long talk with my dad that happened purely by accident and without any prior arrangements. Secondly the headline on one of the leading dailies that day showed just how much things have NEVER changed since that day so long ago when I was being driven to school with a loaded gun in the car. In fact they have gotten incredasingly worse.
Let me start with the headline. Apparently a man called Deepak Kamani who had been on the police’s “most wanted” list has suddenly and mysteriously been cleared of all charges and suspicions. I will not say anymore about this man who featured prominently on the Kroll report and is one of the main names behind the mammoth Anglo Leasing scum. It is said that he is the same man who paid President Kibaki’s hospital bill in London shortly after that near fatal accident of 2002.
During my long talk with my dad, it occurred to me how we still do not agree about many issues (like he was sure that Hilary Clinton was going to easily secure the democratic nomination for the presidency and he also voted Kibaki in the last elections). Then on the other hand there are other things we are in total agreement about. Like the current political mood in the country the coming unprecedented famine and what is most likely to happen in the months to come. Folks we are seated on a time bomb that is about to explode big time. More on that in the days to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those wonderful people who have in one way or the other helped me and assisted me in any way small or big during this very difficult and trying time. Ahsante sana. Especially that close friend who has repeatedly gone out of their way to be of such great help, quite often sparing no expense.
Now, if you are reading this and you often get a feeling of being overwhelmed by corruption and injustices in Kenya, take heart. I am sure you feel like a flickering candle in the wind, but always remember that the flame will never be quenched until that day when it will be strong enough to burn down the entire forest called “corruption and injustices in Kenya.”
My dad survived because his conscience was clear and he knew he had done the right thing. For the same reason, Kumekucha too will survive.
P.S. Have you noticed how after the 2007 general elections the wrong people are on the run while the crooks are being cleared to come back to Kenya to rape some more? I am not talking about myself but about the long list of Kenyans who have had to leave the country suddenly. For instance do you guys know where Ted Josiah is and why he is there? Yep I am talking about that music producer guy.