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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Land Question And Why We Badly Need New Thinking Part I of 3

When most of us voted so unanimously and with all our hearts for Mwai Kibaki to be president in 2002 we were certain than an old man was capable of leading us to our promised land although we knew it would require plenty of new ideas and a complete reversal of the old as we knew it. Looking back now, that was very wishful thinking indeed. The kind of idiotic thinking that only a fool would embrace.

Fast forward to 2009 and we don’t seem to have learnt anything. I shockingly discovered here in Kumekucha yesterday that some people I have great respect for see no other leader to bring about the change we want other than the hair-dyeing-mzee called Raila Odinga. Although I respect their views, I am still reeling in shock and a bit dizzy and dazed even as I write this. Now one of the things I have learnt in this life is that mistakes can be very costly but we are only human and that is why we inevitably make them. However it is NOT acceptable to make the same mistake TWICE. And only mad men do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

I know how the current generation of leaders (including Mr Odinga) think. How do I know? I talk to their agemates a lot. I also talk to my dad about politics a lot. (Now for the sake of those newer readers to this blog let me tell you something about my dad. I have respect for the man. He is very principled and refused to be corrupt and very rich under great pressure, his life was even threatened. In the end he was retired from the police at a very senior position—next to the commissioner himself—because he could not tow the line and be corrupt like his super-rich colleagues. I have admitted here before that there was a time when I was sure that he was making a big mistake. Why not make money like everybody else? He is one of the people you should thank for the existence of this blog). Well listening to my dad’s political views I sometimes hear John Michuki talking. Lots of times I hear Mwai Kibaki talking and ambassador Muthaura as well, especially when it comes to views on the Luo community and the constitution. To put it bluntly the current generation of leaders cannot take in new ideas, they will never make sense to them. And that is why the reforms train will NEVER EVER leave the station until we change the leadership in this country. Don’t even think of a new constitution.

What the old men think and say; “How can you have regional governments? That is Majimbo and it failed in the 60s.”
The truth: There are many ways of having regional governments other than what was in Kenya’s original majimbo constitution besides even that model was NOT given a chance and was frustrated at every turn by the central government.
What the old men think and say: Obama will never be president. I know America well. Do you know how many times I have visited the States?
The truth: For better or worse, Barack Obama is seated in the White house as you read this.
What the old men think and say: How can you even suggest that a young inexperienced leader becomes president of Kenya. This is a job only for old experienced people.
The truth: When Jomo Kenyatta became prime minister in 1963 and later president, he was on old man completely out of touch with the world (that is worse than a young ,man who can learn a lot quicker and adapt to change better) and with zero experience in governing. In his entire life he never headed a political party for a single day. Actually the former Nairobi City Council water meter reader was a failure who had done many embarrassing things including spending public money that had been entrusted to him to accomplish a mission he was sent to theUK to accomplish. In brief, Kenyatta gained experience on the job.

In my view you can have all kinds of handlers to give you the kind of ideas that will appeal to the majority young voters in Kenya today but none of it is from your heart and sooner or later your true colours will show.

Anyway this long intro was mainly for the purpose of introducing the explosive issue of land. The other reason for the long introduction is because the minute you mention land most folks start yawning. Fascinatingly there was an article in the Kenyan press recently about how the new generation of Kenyans who have inherited vast tracts of land from their parents do not know what to do with it and are mostly disposing of it.

Pat Robertson owns a Christian TV station in the States that distributes the popular 700 club TV show that is shown across the globe. Mr Robertson is also a financial and investment expert and has spent most of his life trying to explain why it does not make sense to live in a house that you own. Try and tell that to any Kenyan. Closer to home, there is this attractive, sexy financial consultant I know who proved to me that Robertson is absolutely right. She advices her clients to live in rental property and buy land only to put up high rise buildings with cheap housing for the masses. Collect rent to pay your own rent, is her mantra. It is rare to find beauty and brains in the same place but even more important is that this close friend of mine makes plenty of sense. I am trying to prove to you that this land issue is not as boring as you think.

I urge you dear yawning reader to stay with me for a little while so that we can explore this really fascinating issue of land. In my view it holds the key to liberating and revolutionizing Kenya into that beautiful new country we would all like to see. (Well, admittedly not all of us want a brand new country, the older folks yearn for us to go back to the lazy heady late sixties world of cheap oil and fewer problems, but how realistic is this?)

In part 2 and 3 of this post I will jump headlong into this issue. I will touch on some fascinating tidbits that you don’t want to miss.

Like;

- How land grabbing started
- How Dar went back on its’ word concerning free movement of labour and assets in the East African Community simply because they feared toilet-grabbing land grabbers from Kenya invading virgin Tanzania.
- How exactly did Ruto use land to become an overnight millionaire? Some little know facts.
- How land can be used to turn around the fortunes of Kenya.

I am working on these articles now and Part 2 will be posted here sometime tomorrow. Meanwhile I welcome ideas. I am already making use of Mwarangethe’s considerable input here on this subject and would love to receive more contributions from others even those with a different view.


P.S. Mutahi Ngunyi, the popular Sunday Nation political analyst agrees with me that the Raila/Obama photo in the newspapers this week was done by the Prime Minister’s spin doctors for political purposes.

P.S. 2: A commentator here suggested yesterday that people should read the Weekly Review from the 1960s to understand stuff. Actually the founder of the Weekly Review was the editor of the Nation in the early sixties (1963) and he only founded the Weekly Review in 1975 at around the time JM Kariuki was assassinated.

26 comments:

Mwarang'ethe said...

We shall email some of the best materials on land question for you to read on this question.

the Quadruplets said...

Dear Chris, the reason people don't want to talk about land is because the issue has inevitably resulted in violence and loss of property. Unfortunately, you yourself played a big role in this just a couple of years ago. Land and Majimbo are emotive issues which politicians hijack for their own purposes and which ordinary Kenyans end up suffering for.

Mwarang'ethe said...

The Quadruplets wrote

Land and Majimbo are emotive issues which politicians hijack for their own purposes and which ordinary Kenyans end up suffering for.

Our comment:

The problem is that those who have vested interest in land rent confuse the masses who do not understand the type of reforms needed. They thus cause confusion and commotion to hide the real issues.

All Kenya needs is this kind of a clause in the new constitution:

Everyone/Kenyan/legally resident has the right to life, liberty and security of person, the enjoyment of which is contingent on the right of access to land.

The right to land may be exercised indirectly,by sharing equally in the benefits that accrue to the community when use rights are assigned to others.

Everyone/Kenyan/legally resident has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality
is possible. The life of the community is reliant on the
performance of those duties, principal among which is the
payment to the community of the value of the benefits received
from it.

xxxxx

With such a clause, we would have secured the right to land by all Kenyans. This way, there is no need for all Kenyans to occupy land to benefit from land values generated by common activities. In fact, this would enable Kenyans to use land anywhere in the republic and the locals would not feel cheated in any manner.

Seen this way, there is nothing emotive. It is just pure ignorance which breeds useless emotions.

Anonymous said...

REJECT THE CREATION OF NUMEROUS DISTRICTS.

Kenya doesnt have money to pay colonial relics called DCs and DOs. Wherever they are, insecurity comes up immediately.

SAY NO TO THIS MISCHIEF

Anonymous said...

Land is birthright. Uhuru, Moi, Kibaki, Ruto, Raila, Mudavadi, Kalonzo and all those ALLOCATED land by previous govs must return it unconditionally.

Anonymous said...

this was clearly directed at Raila flower girl aka Mwarangethe by Chris

'I shockingly discovered here in Kumekucha yesterday that some people I have great respect for see no other leader to bring about the change we want other than the hair-dyeing-mzee called Raila Odinga. Although I respect their views, I am still reeling in shock and a bit dizzy and dazed even as I write this'

what an accurate snide

Anonymous said...

Raila is still keeping the land he grabbed in malindi meant to resettle the landless. he also continues to use molasses land that he did not pay a penny for. what a disgrace for a man who claim to be a leader. imagine what the fellow will steal if he gets the president post.

deroo said...

Chris,

You have no apologies to make about the PR pic by Raila. It was a spin all the way, the same way the British PM's Gordon Brown team had to make sure there was a one-to-one pic. That it was a PR gommick and spin speaks loud when Salim Lone says they met for five minutes, then a spokesman cooks and puts words into the mouth of the leaders. They did not meet at the White House anyway.

Like Brown, they might have met in the UN Restaurant/Cafeteria just as Brown did in the kitchen.

If it was official and in White House, where Obama has not been for the last six days, the American Emblem/White House Logo or the Kenyan and American flags could have been in the background.

On the constitution, remember ohe heated post in 2007. I said, it might never be as people want it. It is so hard Chris and only better now that it has permanently left the corridors of the High Court, which is in itself a phenomenal occurrence.

Soon, a 'mad man' will hire Gibson Kamau Kuria and the whole matter will be back in the corridors of the court. And now...remember the ODM campaign lie that "...we shall give Kenyans a new constitution in six months..."

When I questioned the above with facts, one of the gods of politics told me I dont know what I am saying and doubts my knowledge. But ask yourself, how long did it take to form the committee to look into that, how long has it taken them to discuss it, and how long will it be before the referendum, which might even flop again?

Anyway, Chris, let us wais and see and with the country split in tens of political and opinion fragments, the chances of it being a smooth exercise stares at futility.

-Derek-

deroo said...

Chris, the land issue is so sensitive that touching on it in details as proposed by the Ndungu report that attracts a layer of dust everyday is a poisoned chalice.

Effecting it will mean that millionaires around the country will turn into paupers and jailbirds at a faster rate than they rose to their flamboyant wealth and might.

It is simply sensitive and as you know, it is the only product in this world that appreciates by the minute. What did Moi say, it will take us back to 1963. He was right.

If you sit down and imagine that, by having access to Dainel arap Moi and Frankline Bett for whatever reason could change your life, then imagine, Moi awards you 10 acres of land in Karura or Karen. Then calculate the price of land that Zakayo Cheruyiot holds in Mau. And in a smaller scheme, imagine, you are allocated 5 acres of land near JKIA. It is simply GANGARTUAN.
The unilateral way that things are done in the country would have meant that by now, James Orengo could have made some weighty decisions but, none has been forthcoming, even by his standards, given that he has all the space he needs to act.

POISONED CHALICE!

-Derek-

Mwarang'ethe said...

Anonymous said...
this was clearly directed at Raila flower girl aka Mwarangethe by Chris

'I shockingly discovered here in Kumekucha yesterday that some people I have great respect for see no other leader to bring about the change we want other than the hair-dyeing-mzee called Raila Odinga.

Our response.

Well put.

Firstly, no one can deny that for the first time since independence, we have a land policy that is awaiting enactment that may allow us to levy tax on land values. We all know that this policy has been adopted by the Cabinet and is the product of ODM. However, we wait to see the final outcome in the Parliament.


Now, as concerns Raila, the only question Chris and you would have to answer is this, who do they think is best placed to push these reforms at the moment?

Anonymous said...

Thats a nice one Mwarangethe. Tell us who is best placed to push for reforms at the moment. I am one of the people here who last year suggested we break from all these leaders Raila included. A somber look at things has shown me its only Raila who will push through anything meaningful. Put in place a newcomer like Ledama or anyone else for that matter and things will almost grind to a halt. We need someone who has dealt with these power barons and can push them.

Anonymous said...

Middle class kenyans are buying 1/4,1/8th pieces of land in remote kitengela (that distant dry land where animals used to live the other day) for as much as Kshs 800,000 (almost a million)
GUYS ISNT THERE SOMETHING WRONG HERE!

2012 Watch said...

In 2012, two "cousins" will go for the highest office in their respective land:
Barrack Obama will be seeking relection as president;
Raila Odinga will be seeking election as president;
They will either build or spoil each other's chances.

Philip said...

Chris

I read your second last paragraph before I read your article and I wish to correct you that the photo was real, I had started doubting it myself until I got it here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/statephotos/3949318979/

These photos were posted, as you can see, by U.S Department of State. I tried to download them but failed.

Let me now read your article.

M-Pesa said...

Wewe Chris, do you want your post to be deleted promptly? He he he, eti

"the hair-dyeing-mzee called Raila Odinga."


WHO OWNS KENYA.

"One of President Kibaki’s earliest acquisitions is the 1,200-acre Gingalily Farm along
the Nakuru-Solai road. He bought it in the late 1960s.
And in the 1970s, Kibaki, who was then the minister for Finance under Kenyatta, bought
10, 000 acres in Bahati from the then Agriculture minister Bruce Mckenzie. Kibaki also
owns another 10, 000 acres at Igwamiti in Laikipia and 10, 000 acres in Rumuruti in
Naivasha.
These are in addition to the 1,600 acre Ruare Ranch that came to the limelight when it
caught fire last year."



http://www.marsgroupkenya.org/publications/reports/feb2008/Who_Owns_Kenya.pdf

Philip said...

Now on the issues of land.

First of all we need to understand how this problem came about.

As far as I know most tribes in Kenya used to live in a community where land is owned by the community rather than individuals, the only thing I know individuals used to own was cattle.

Then what we call the Government was formed and all land that was not used at that time become government's land. Most communities did not have any problem because they did not need the land.

Unluckily there was population increase in most of the communities and as this happened they needed more land. At this time the Government had already given title deeds to people.

Unluckily for those communities that were living in productive land, the same land became like oil in some countries. Many people started buying the land from government while others grabbed the land, so that the community missed the opportunity to get land after their population increased. This is exactly what happened to Sabout people living next to Mt Elgon - and this is the reason they have been fighting for land. I don't know if something close to it happened to Kikuyus apart from their land being taken by white settlers and then Kenyatta taking from the settlers when they left instead of returning it to the community.

So what is the solution?

When it comes to grabbed land, that's easy, the government should take it back and give to the communities.

Anonymous said...

Chris

Please include also how distorted land and property prices are in kenya. A mortgage in Buruburu (middle class estate) of a kshs 6m house has a monthly damage of about Kshs 70K. For you to afford this, you should be earning at least 220k pm since you have mouths to feed and dependants to sustain. Then you pay this for 20 years. We have a life expectancy of 53 years. It means if you are 32 years old, you would probably be dead before you start enjoying the house. Now who will own a house in Nairobi? Only the children/ grandchildren of Kenyatta, Kibaki, Raila, Kalonzo et al and of course the Pirates who are crowding us out
KENYA SUCKS!

Mwarang'ethe said...

Philip asked

then Kenyatta taking from the settlers when they left instead of returning it to the community.

So what is the solution?

Our response:

We believe Kenya has three choices which must be made very soon:

(a) Leave things as they are. This will bring bloodshed and eventual break up of Kenya.

(b) We can chose Mugabe way. The consequences of this route are well known.

(b) Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore or early Japanese way of land value/rent taxation to fund common defence, police, infrastructure etc. (

NB: When we use the term land, we encompass such stuff as radio spectrum, landing slots for aircrafts, license to pollute, natural gene pool, game etc. Unfortunately, the land policy by Orengo does not touch on such issues as radio spectrum.

We propose Taiwan way. The beauty of the Taiwan way is that, when you fund CORE state functions such as defence, roads, courts using land values, you can eliminate, or drastically reduce the tax burden on wealth creators.

More so, once you reduce government robbery on wealth creators, they will have enough money to fund stuff like health, education, food etc without "assistance" of the big brother.

Thus, land value taxation offers the greatest opportunity to reduce the size of the government, not only in Kenya, but in places like USA, UK where government has become the economy, i.e. enroute to socialism.

Furthermore, since higher land rent squeeze both capitalist/investor and the employee, capturing these land values as public revenure will make it possible for those who wish to invest and create jobs do so. Thats why capitalist flock to Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. And, this explains in a major way, why these countries are very competitive in the global economy as compared to USA and UK as against China and India.

However, instead of Western nations/experts seeing the truth and telling their masses the truth, they start to brand states like Singapore as tax heavens and start phony wars to please ignorant masses.

Seen this way, the battle has not, and is not between CAPITALISTS and WORKERS, but between LANDLORDS against CAPITALISTS/WORKERS.

It is therefore, very unfortunate that Karl Marx due to ideological reasons, was able to mislead workers to engage in vicious battles that are still ranging with capitalists while the real enemy of the workers, i.e. land lords watch in glee.

The only obstacle to the Taiwan way is dogmas about land which has been implanted to the masses for centuries by aristocracy starting with Norman aristocrats and their heirs who started privatisation of public revenue in Britain over 800 years ago.

They have done this by designing what is taught and is not taught in schools. They have made sure that in schools masses are taught to see the world in their (aristoctracts) vested interests.

As a result, you see poor masses/peasants who call themselves workers and middle class defending institutions which enslave them. Thats why you do not see these options on the table in the Western world. The unfortunate result will be devastation of Western economies by India and China no matter how many bailouts they churn out. Interestingly, these bailouts will have to paid by increasing tax on wealth creators which will make the Western nations even more uncompetitive against China with known consequences in terms of job creation.

Anonymous said...

Philips,

Before the coming of the whites, Kikuyus had two types of land tenure in co-existence: private ownership, and common ownership (the commons). Usually, the commons were owned by individual clans. If you read Leakey's works (written around 1900s) you will see how the British were surprised to find the law governing the Kikuyu private ownership component was similar in many respects to the law of England at that time. So when the British alienated Kikuyu land, they were alienating both privately owned land and land held in common by clans. For example, when Captain Grogan took the land where the UoN main campus stands, he took it from an individual (a woman) and the land in Chiromo where Grogan's house still stands was held in common by the woman's clan. Remember the descendants of the woman trying to revive the question of that land in the early1990's?

Thus the fight betweeen the Kikuyu and the British was fueled by three-layered bitterness: at the tribe level, at the clan level and at the individual level.

Mwarang'ethe said...

Anonymous said...

A mortgage in Buruburu (middle class estate) of a kshs 6m house has a monthly damage of about Kshs 70K. For you to afford this, you should be earning at least 220k pm since you have mouths to feed and dependants to sustain.

Our comment:

We shall tackle head on the money and banking question here one of these days. Let us now concentrate on land question which is "visible" to many.

Suffice to say for now that, what was called robbery and plunder in the old days is now called INTEREST/USURY (there is no difference whatsoever btw. the two) and TAXATION.

The robber castles which we see in Europe has given way to BANKING HOUSES, so that, the old robber has now assumed the name FINANCIER.

the Quadruplets said...

In Kenya, most of the population lives on a third of the land area. This is the area where there has been until now reliable rainfall and fertile soils. Obviously, most Kenyans don't want to settle in northern, north eastern and coast provinces where there is plenty of land. The question is: how do you allocate the 30 percent productive land equally to over 30 million Kenyans who want it?

That is why the capitalist system is the best for land allocation. No matter how much we try to allocate land equally to all Kenyans, there will still be vast numbers of the landless. The capitalist system ensures that those who buy land are those willing and able to use it productively. If you dish out land to everybody, you will have land owners who don't know how to use it. Zimbabwe is a good example of people who were allocated former white farms but are now unable to produce anything because they lack the skills and finances to invest.

The Kenyan population is growing very fast but the land area remains the same. It is time the people were sensitized to look at other areas of investment in order to avert the land mania. Just look at the Kenyan Asians: how much land do they own and yet they are probably the most prosperous community around?

Mwarang'ethe said...

the Quadruplets said...

The Kenyan population is growing very fast but the land area remains the same. It is time the people were sensitized to look at other areas of investment in order to avert the land mania. Just look at the Kenyan Asians: how much land do they own and yet they are probably the most prosperous community around?

Our comment:

Two things. First, as we noted, and as you seem to concur, we need Taiwan land tenure system. This way, there shall be no land acquisition mania like Mau since the prospect of unearned income/rent is completely removed.

For instance, Mau grabbing could not have happened if we taxed these rents the grabbers were after and which they are asking Wanjiku to pay tax and pay them. The outcome will be more poverty for Wanjiku and money for the grabbers. Pure robbery in the name of property rights.

Secondly, as concerns Asians, there is the element of banking and money we have written about and which we wish to come to later.

The question is, do Asians control a number of banks? If yes, recall what we wrote a few weeks ago here. Banks exist as an agency of government to PERMIT some people to CREATE MONEY.

Thus, it is logical that, if a well close knit community has control of banks, it will be able to create money while others are denied the same opportunity. Obviously, if you are in a position to create money, you will control the wealth of a nation.

To appreciate the import of the above para. you need to understand what money is. Many think they do, but, they do not.

Money is nothing but credit obligation. Properly understood, it means that, if X is allowed to create by a bank KES 1000, it simply means that he can claim wealth (MONEY IS NOT WEALTH) worthy that amount in Kenya.

In other words, those allowed to create money by the current banking system can claim the wealth created by others who have no such right to create money.

Therein, plus the usury/interest lies the real cause of income/wealth disparity which cannot be stopped without cutting this tap root.

Anonymous said...

Mwarang'ethe, what should we have in place of banks?

Mwarang'ethe said...

Anonymous said...
Mwarang'ethe, what should we have in place of banks?

Our response:

As noted, we wish to tackle money and banking later. However, let us answer this query briefly.

Imagine that you have opened a new cinema hall in Nairobi. It has 100 seats. Imagine this, since there is "credit crunch" as propaganda wants masses to believe, you PAY some of your employees with gift certificates instead.

The question is, what will they do with such certificates? There are two ways they can use them. One, they can use them to come and watch the latest movie on sunday next week. When they come, you will take the certificate and allow them in. Thereafter, you destroy the gift certificates.
By accepting these certificates, you have REDEEMED them. Thus, the credit certificates are BACKED by your services.


The other option is them teling their friends that, since we have gift certificate from XXX cinema, we can give the same if you clean our houses. If this happens, the house cleaners will take these certificates and come and watch the movie. When they come, u shall take, i.e. REDEEM the receipts, and then destroy them. It is also possible for them to pass the same to others for jobs rendered.

In this instance, these certificates have functioned as a MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE i.e. money. This is the true and most important function of money.

In the same manner, many companies can create money as above and avoid taking "loans" which come with usury which all Holy Books reject. If this were the case, banks will only function as clearing houses for such certificates of credit, for as we said, money is a credit obligation.

The reason why such certificates would function as money is because they are EVIDENCE OF REAL CREDIT and not make believe credit of modern banks. This is so because:

(a) They are evidence of just claim for the goods and services because the MERCHANT issuing them will REDEEM them. As we know, the Central Bank of Kenya money is UNBACKED and hence rampant inflation which will be 0 in our scheme.

(b) They are not LOANED into circulation.

(c) They are earned either by the employee who receives them as pay or as a supplier.

Anonymous said...

"Imagine that you have opened a new cinema hall in Nairobi. It has 100 seats. Imagine this, since there is "credit crunch" as propaganda wants masses to believe, you PAY some of your employees with gift certificates instead."

Mwarang'ethe, your's is just but an example, but assume the employees are not interested in taking the " cinema certificates"? Also, who would regulate the issuance of certificates, and their value, if companies were given the nod to issue such?

Anonymous said...

ehh... thank you for this ..

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