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Saturday, September 20, 2008

How Many Kenyans Are Living In Fear For Their Lives?

Is crime reducing as the police tell us? Or dramatically increasing?

For the last 3 years Sylvester Muithya Matheka has lived every day fearing for his life. Last Thursday morning the Machakos businessman received a visit from 5 people armed with an AK47 in his rural home up in the hills about 15 Kms from Machakos town in a place called Lita. The kind of deep rural neighborhood where folks don’t lock their doors at night because violent crime is unheard of. One of the gunmen shot him twice. The second time apparently to make sure. He died on the spot.

Read the account of the incident in the East African Standard.

The most telling comment came from his grief stricken first born son currently doing a masters degree at a local university, who with tears in his eyes told our Kumekucha informant that he was happy for his dad. The reason was that the poor man had finally rested. From the fear. From looking over his shoulder constantly. A terrible thing for a son to say about his slain father, but a clear illustration of the kind of life Muithya (as everybody called him) lived.

He is not the only one. There are numerous businessmen in Kenya today who live the kind of life the deceased lived. Never spending the night in their homes. Constantly moving, always afraid for their lives. The police who are paid by tax payers to protect all citizens of our great nation are mostly overwhelmed and many times compromised so that the people with the real power in Kenya today are those who pedal fear.

Indeed there is a budding industry in the country for blackmailers as well as paid hitmen. Muithya received one sms message from a cell phone with Tanzanian numbers about 8 months ago. The eerie message told him that the sender had been paid Kshs 300,000 to deliver his head and he would never return to Tanzania until he had accomplished his mission. The SMS was shown to the police who never even made any effort to try and trace the source of the SMS message.

28 comments:

Taabu said...

Impunity reigns supreme. Ours is a society weaned on quick fixes. Ole wako if you don't have what is takes to be industrious. Everything has a price including your head and that leadership from the front and by example.

UrXlnc said...

allow me to digress for a moment

this initiative, if it holds together against tribal warlords in RV and central who will be eyeing this enviable voting basket, will have more sustainable results than any other

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/473060/-/ywvcesz/-/index.html

would like to see how it builds up in the events that must precede and leading to the next election, i.e constitutional reforms, IDP resettlement etc. I have every confidence that there efforts will bear fruit if there is tons of goodwill among all of them and i wish them well in their endeavours.

my only concern is that it appears to be grounded on political principles of association which are generally highly volatile and fluid often changing at the drop of a penny, instead of other more long term and sustainable facets e.g socio-economic and cultural integration and assimilation of course including steps towards permanently addressing the thorny land issues.

UrXlnc said...

chris

are you suggesting that kenya is run by and at the mercy of outlaws and criminal gangs?

Anonymous said...

Urxlnc
Yes you are right , from an illegitiamate thug who cant prove that he won elections.

Kwale said...

It's good to see you have taken a note of my comment in your penultimate post where I said, "why would I want to live in a country of perpetual fear—in houses with iron gates, electric fences, dogs and guards, panic buttons, security firms just like a prison"

What do you expect from a country of contrast, on one hand we have the filthy stinking rich and on the other we have sprawling slums where unemployment and poverty are at record levels?
The truth of the matter is criminals have become so brazen they no longer seem to fear the police or prosecutors. But who can blame them, they got nothing to lose.

Unfortunately our beautiful capital has earned a bad reputation world over with a disparaging nickname "Nairobbery". And it's not just crime that has given our country a bad name but also gals, I mean girls. Most travellers find our gals aggressively horny and violent. Two years ago when I was living in Nairobi, I had my Mzungu friend and his girlfriend visit me for couple of weeks, and the kind of reception he got from 'our gals' was just too embarrassing. No matter how my friend protested he have a girlfriend, the girls just kept on pestering him until I got angry and started to tell them off. And it was not just confined to Nairobi alone, we went to Masai Mara and this elderly local man tried to give him a 'bride to take home' whom he turned down graciously. This is something many travellers to Kenya especially men complain about, just visit UN Nairobi warnings or Travel Guide to Kenya websites and see what am talking about.

What is it Kenyans think Mzungu is so special?

Taabu said...

Thanks folks but no thanks. The post is on INSECURITY and not tale of emotional escapades. Please WDR stick to it and wait for a relevant post to reveal personal visits, will you?

Anonymous said...

What is it Kenyans think Mzungu is so special?

Good question. No answers.

Vikii said...

Taabu, I have a bottle of grey goose vodka waiting for you at the bridge. We will beat you (thoroughly), screw you and alcohol-poison the shit out of you. This is not a season of luck. It is a season of skill and class. We got both.

Anonymous said...

http://news.yahoo.com/page/election-2008-political-pulse-obama-race

Anonymous said...

Vikii,

What do you think about Arsenal, aren't they damn good? Pure skills and class!!

Msema kweli said...

I can't believe it, Kwale, you described the pathetic state of Kenya as it truly is: "a country of perpetual fear — in houses with iron gates, electric fences, dogs and guards, panic buttons, security firms just like a prison"

I agree with you 100%. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is mediocre and thuggish leadership - right from 1963. It has set a bad example to everyone and encouraged thuggish behavior and "bad manners"all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:46;

"What is it Kenyans think Mzungu is so special?"

Yes good question with simple answer. Kenyans feel inferior to anything that does not have black skin.
The more 'white' you are the more respect your command. strange but true!

Msema kweli said...

Anon 7:46 PM, you asked: What is it Kenyans think Mzungu is so special?

Here's my take: most of us Kenyan africans suffer from huge amounts of self hatered and very poor self esteem. That is one reason why we abhor excellence and adore mediocrity within our "Kenyan African circle" while looking for what we think is "excellence" - which most of the time is money - from others e.g the whites. Check out Kwale's comment above @1:55 PM about how our women throw themselves aggressively at white men.

The people we adore and admire within our "Kenyan african circle"
are mostly people of dubious character, thugs, fraudsters etc. No wonder the whole country has been in a mess and is still in a mess. And as Taabu said in his comment, "Impunity reigns supreme ..." from the top to the bottom.

Egnubo said...

Did you guys read this: http://www.eastandard.net/m/?id=1143995389.

The last words in the words of Njiru are:
"No wonder that Kenyatta’s inner circle wanted the announcement of the death and the swearing in of the new President delayed. But they were in for a shock. General Jackson Kimeu Mulinge warned them that the Armed Forces needed a Commander-in-Chief immediately or else………"

Anonymous said...

I agree with Msema Kweli. Our heros are thieves and murderers Impunity is the order of the day in our VERY sick country. People are ready to descend on a 8 yr old street kid and beat him to death for stealing a tomato, but will vehemently defend someone who steals our and their tax money because they are from their tribe.
Something has to be done fast to save this country.

But the future is gloom and doom. All over the internet one can see learned young men and women spewing tribal hatred with a passion that defies logic. Why dont they use the same drive to call for an more training, equipping and better housing for our police force? Or to expose thieves who through corruption hinder social reforms that will fill the divide between the rich and the poor and hence curb insecurity which is a HUGE problem in Kenya today? NO they dont do that. They just want a president from their tribe. How STUPID can we be? Of what use is a president from your tribe when you can be shot and killed anytime for a mobile phone? Or when thousands upon thousands of children are forced to live in squalid conditions in slums that are springing up at an alarming rate all over the country?

Who will heal our beloved country?
And it is true that Tanzanian hitmen exist in Kenya. I heard such stories before. They will take someone out for peanuts and they never refuse any job. God help us!

Phil said...

Chris said...The police who are paid by tax payers to protect all citizens of our great nation are mostly overwhelmed and many times compromised so that the people with the real power in Kenya today are those who pedal fear......."

Chris,

Hardly Chris....Chances are that the people who killed Sylvester Matheka are actually members of the Police force itself..If not, then the guns were rented from the police. Happens all the time Chris.

Just last month, you may have read in the papers that a senior KPLC manager was killed in cold blood around the Nairobi West area as his driver (also killed) arrived to pick him up. Although no arrests have been made so far, the late Meshak was fingered by colleagues who thought he was blocking their illegal deals in selling/buying of power cables. These KPLC managers are well known.

These thugs hardly steal valuables, but if they do, its normally considered a bonus.

It true that a large percentage of gun crime Chris is actually committed by member of the police force. Nearly all small arms used for carjackings and all manner of heists and murders are usually police guns. And the excuse has been that an officer lost the gun somewhere last month....while in actual fact they rent out these arms to thugs so as to supllement their meager income.

This has worried the government so much so that recently a POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD was formed outside the constitution.

There is no cellphone SMS or discussion that escapes the attention of Safaricom or Celtel. A special branch of the CID have been seconded to Safaricom to monitor cellphone numbers considered to be security threats. Unfortunately, they also get compromised in these dealings and look the other way as they get a cut from the extortionists. The other reason they use TZ and UG sim cards is to avoid monitoring by local gsm providers.

Can you imagine ever owning a GUN let alone using it during Moi's time? How did the police then manage to track illegal arms right into people's bedrooms? Why cant this happen now?

Taabu said...

Vikii,
Pole but you must be a grey goose vodka poorer. Your 12th player called LUCK didn't shine. So 1-1 and you have chosen to escape with the Vodo, how dare you lil bro? Unless you measure up and pass the bottle I promise A CURSE, will you?

Shaddy said...

Chris is a very rude person, he came to my house and destoyed all my cookeries, smashed the tables and chair before leaving complaining I am not a nice person.

Sam Okello

Taabu said...

Fake Shaddy,
Character assisination never won any medal. Cut the crap and take a walk. Stop impersonating Okello and stop slundering Chris. You are a typical Kenyan who never winks at THEFT, shame on you.

Vikii said...

But Taabu, playing with ten men behind the ball for the better part of the first half is surely not the way to go.

Even in a game officiated by SAF's friend Mike Riley, those boys could have been more civil. Seven yellow cards and a red just shows how thinly they held on the lead. And what was Rio complaining about? The narcotic guys should check out on this guy once again. Scholes deserved 7 yellows which converts to three and a half reds. That is called compulsory retirement.

I gave the Grey Goose to your club's all time best player--Ryan Giggs (I met him down the tunnel and he didnt even know why they didnt let him play). I had to catch the mat and i told Ryan to pass it on to you.

Taabu said...

Vikii, liar liar, RG said you never gave him anything to pass to me and BTW he is only drinks water and milk. So you still owe me. And word on the street next to SB is that you were seen escaping after the scar of.....

Meanwhile kudos to Blues for 85th unbeaten record. Rare feat but beatable and guess who will do it? One one team can and will soon.

b-carotene said...

Anon 7:46 PM, you asked: Why do Kenyans think Mzungu is so special?
A very good question that Msema Kweli answered very well.

I think its not just a Kenyan phenomenon. In many places, from Asia, through Latin America, to Africa, the individual response to mzungus (despite national rhetorics) is one of reverence, regardless of the credibility of the mzungu. We in Africa are perhaps the worst hit by this mzungu worship.

The explanation is not simple, bearing in mind that many communities did at some point suffer from the hands of the mzungu or even continue to do so today.

Could it be that the wealth, the power, the resources (including negotiating capacity) lends some credibility to what they say, and we as Kenyans, torn apart by ethnic mistrust and other forms of mistrust, find it easier to accept their 'guidance'? That is are we too poor to think for ourselves? Or are we just simply too lazy to do what it takes to solve our own problems?

For anyone exposed to the western world, especially the anglo world, it is not hard to see the spirit of 'we will do it ourselves,' and the pride taken in that. Unlike us, they do not take too kindly to being told what to do, whatever the arena of their lives.

It is hard to point a finger on what's going on with the Kenyan (and African), but I do think that a lot of it may stem from a culture of wanting others to do things for you. If its a job--you want your well connected uncle to get you one. If its a health center, you want 'tha government' to provide--not thinking about meeting 'tha government' somewhere three quarter or half way. Or that if things turn out bad--that pervasive sense of helplessness and fatalism creeps in and we then say that it's God's will or someone bewitched me. And a lack of personal accounting of just how much my attitude and behavior could have factored into it and instead a resorting to perpetual victimhood:It is not me, but something/someone else, hence I cannot do anything about it.

The mzungu is also very clever. Having done much research on this and even labeled Africans as neopatrimonial/subject to patron-client relationships, fatalistic, and highly distrustful of each other (save perhaps of their kin and many times tribe), the mzungu has found a niche for himself. Because the African types can barely come together to work together on anything, then the mzungu will happily step in to fill the gap as an arbiter, resource provider, etc..even messiah. Whether it's at the micro-level or at the broader and national level, they will tend to have greater credibility and very sad to say legitimacy.

Their stepping in during the post elections violence, and their ramming down our throats an unfamilar system of governance is but one good example. Of course, they were following their own self-interest--get a speedy resolution, but guess what, it wasnt hard to do impose conditionalities and a structure. It would be swallowed wholesale afterall the Africans cant solve their own problems and the mzungu can.

I know this sounds overly pessimistic,simple and sadly condescending, but it is one way of interpreting why Kenyans (and Africans more generally) appear to worship and accept what the mzungu says and does, rather uncritically.

The Caveat: This is not aimed at tarnishing Kriegler's (who is also an African) good works. Just trying, with very limited success, to explain why the Kenyan subordinates himself to others. Psychologists would likely do a better job at explaining it, but thought I'd take a shot at it, since it bothers and puzzles me quite a lot.

My apologies for wandering away from a relevant and important conversation on crime and general lawlessness in Kenya.

Anonymous said...

4.09 AM Good notes indeed.We can do much better.Ordinary grandmothers are doing it and have been doing it yet without much knowledge that we enjoy these days.The more Africans get many papers called degrees the more they become evil.We can do better.Let us give it a trial.

b-carotene said...

@5:39 am, thanks for bringing optimism back in for as you note, there are some good examples. And yes, we MUST try.

UrXlnc said...

b-carotene 4:09

good article, share similar views on that perspective.

there's a variety of contributors to inferiority including succumbing to stereotyping as well as carrying out inappropriate or imbalanced comparative analysis, not to mention the evils of being inculcated by parents, teachers, peers and society at large right from the very early ages to be mesmerized and in awe of western innovation, automatically rendering us into consumers rather than producers/manufacturers/inventors.

there is also the mother of all advertisement of western superiority that we all buy into hook line and sinker as they say, and that is the hollywood movies. entertaining certainly but all of them portray and make mzungus as inventors and heroes, occassionaly we see another not so mzungu figure, but will invariably be shadowed or assisted by mzungu and we feed on that day in day out in the soap operas, news etc because they deliberately go out of their way to present the clearest pictures (not grainy) with excellent audio (not consumed with static and stray sounds in the background) and put in the center stage mzungu if its a great achievement and anybody else if its a disaster of some kind.

Anonymous said...

So how can we stop Mzungu worship?

b-carotene said...

@12:17 p.m.
Seems like there are many ways to attack this virus. From Urxlnc--maybe we should promote Nollywood movies, which I personally enjoy? And Kenyan soaps? And Kenyan cartoon programs, etc.
Or perhaps review our school curriculum to socialize people to better respect what is ours, as imperfect as it may seem? Or even socialize parents in the same way?
And promote and reward innovation amongst our own? Whatever happened to the Nyayo car for example?
Or not having our stupid politicians being insured by public funds in order to seek treatment abroad, for that which they can find here? The list is long but seems to me a nice way would be socialization in schools to develop some pride in who we are and what is ours.

Kwale said...

Thanks B-Carotene for those well thought comments. That question of why Kenyans worship Mzungu has been bugging me for a long time.

I find this really astonishing when you compare Kenya reaction to Mzungus with other African countries like in the West Africa where they don't have much regards for Mzungus or in S. African countries like Namibia and South Africa where Mzungu is viewed with so much resentment. What worry me is even some urbanised cosmopolitan areas like Nairobi and Mombasa Mzungu is still regarded highly. Many young women dream of meeting a white man to marry, and even the parents seems see it as an honour to have their daughters married to an mzungu. What they don't know is some of these Mzungu have a history back in their countries i.e some are paedophiles, other are on sex offenders register and so on. There have been numerous sad and spooky stories from many of our sisters who married German men but later found themselves between rock and hard places.

I think there is a lot to be done to stop this mindset. I have also noticed the more yellow or brown your skin is, the more you're esteemed and the more handsome or beautiful are considered. Sad mentality! I think Msema Kweli was right on the money to say many Kenyans have deep self-hatred in them.

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