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.
- 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.