Top names in Ocampo's list-15th December 2010
I went to a high school where the students run the school and school prefects had enormous powers. It was a system that worked quite well and there was excellent discipline. Little wonder that in those days the school performed very well in national exams. The school system was based on a strict hierarchy system where you respected those who were in higher classes than you without question.
One day something out of the ordinary happened. The acting headmaster (who should have known better because he was an old boy of the school) did something unprecedented. During Monday school assembly he called a form five boy and a form six boy to the front and then produced a cane and caned the form five student in full view of the entire school. When it was the sixth form boy’s turn to receive six of the best he just couldn’t take it and he walked away in defiance.
The whole school was left aghast in shock. What the acting headmaster had just done that day was like a general in the army caning colonels in full view of corporals and non commissioned officers.
But my point in telling you this old school story is to illustrate what the ruling political class including President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga feels every time certain words are uttered these days. Words like “Hague” and “Ocampo”. Majority of Kenyans want the Hague option and that is simply because they want to see “big boys caned in front of the whole school”. After years of impunity I myself feel exactly the same.
ICC prosecutor Ocampo has made it clear that he is going after “two or three individuals.” There has been plenty of speculation over who those three may be but today I can report authoritatively that they are William Ruto, Henry Kosgey and Uhuru Kenyatta. These are the cabinet ministers who have been reportedly holding intensive consultations with lawyers. In other words they have panicked big time.
It is no secret that these individuals are extremely influential in government and that would explain the unexpected united position that President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga took in insisting that even after months of dilly dallying they were still keen to try the suspects locally. What the two gentlemen were saying is that they would like the individuals concerned to go scot free because even a standard two pupil in Kenya knows that there is no way that any court in the country is going to successfully prosecute these “big boys.” It just won’t happen. That does not rule out the usual play-acting happening for the benefit of the public. Something similar to the time that Nicholas Biwott was briefly arrested and detained (in very luxurious surroundings at GSU headquarters) in connection with the murder of former foreign affairs minister Robert Ouko. In other words there can be no justice in a local tribunal. Not in a hundred years.
Fortunately Ocampo is still pressing ahead with a Hague prosecution but he will do so against colossal odds. Witnesses in Kenya have a habit of vanishing without trace and more commonly will usually end up dead (of course their death will always be from so-called natural causes). To make matters worse the kind of witnesses in the post-election violence cases are very humble simple people who scare very easily. You need evidence to convict a person in any court and I worry that evidence in this case will be “unavailable” when it is most required.
What has puzzled many Kenyans is why the Kenyan cases are being hurried along so fast and why there seems to be so much international pressure. The international community cannot afford a repeat of January 2008 and the clock is ticking fast towards the general elections of 2012. Then there is this man called President Barack Hussein Obama. The matatu-riding president of the United States must have been very touched by the plight of Kenyans when he first visited here as a nobody and seems very determined (even with his full plate of things to do as president) to be at the forefront of bringing about change in the beloved motherland. Hence the visa bans and tactics that just fall short of plain old bullying. Well I am with you on this one Mr President (and so are the vast majority o Kenyans). In this case the end fully justifies the means.
P.S. About the story I started this post with; there is something I would like to add. Tradition aside I watched that poor boy that was caned in front of the whole school and his juniors, literally fall apart. His self esteem melted and by the time we completed our sixth form the following year he was just a shadow of his former self. If I were him I would have sued that headmaster and the school. In retrospect what the acting headmaster should also have known is that you don’t change any system before you find a viable alternative to replace it. That school went to the dogs partly because of what happened that memorable Monday morning sometime in 1982.