By Raila Odinga
Over the past week, I have mourned the passing of a friend and a fellow fighter. So close and so precious was Jacob Juma to me. But even as I have mourned, I believe that if Jacob were to speak from where he lies now, he would simply say, why do you mourn? I may be dead, but this is life.
In Jacob, our country has suffered a very grievous loss of a public servant. The media have defined Jacob by the fierce and bitter struggles which hung around him in recent times. What they never say is that the struggles were inspired by Jacob’s belief in justice as the final arbiter in relations in society. He sought it whenever the lines were fuzzy.
But all those pursuits have been silenced and also awakened by Jacob’s sudden death. May be we shall, but chances are high we shall never know the truth if the past is precedent. Kenya has a long list of unexplained deaths. I however know that as a businessman, Jacob had connections. He used his connections both for the growth of personal businesses and for public good.
From time to time, he tumbled on evidence of massive corruption. And whenever he did, he raised alarm. He spoke when his connections led him to evidence of massive theft at the NYS and when they led him to Eurobond theft. It is not always that a man foresees with razor sharp accuracy, the consequences of the unfolding course of events in which he is an active participant. Jacob did.
On 1st March 2016, Jacob wrote: “I ammready to die for the sake of this nation if it will save us from corruption. I have lived long enough to worry about death.” On the 25th of March 2016, he wrote another update: “Freedom is expensive? Death is a must for everybody. I will not fear death and stay in comfort zone as a majority of Kenyans suffer anymore.” Jacob saw his death coming but decided to face it.
Winston Churchill told us…: “The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.”
This is what kept Jacob going, fully aware of the dangers ahead. Jacob acted with sincerity. He had noble and benevolent ideas. He loved his country. He cherished fairness. It is for these, I believe, that he had to die.
His murder must remind us of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. who said thus:
“We must be concerned not merely about who murdered…but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”
Yes, there is a system, a way of life and a philosophy in this country that believes in murders; that produces murderers in Kenya; that believes, wrongly, in extra- judicial killings as the way to sort out differences and eliminate competition; real or imagined.
That philosophy has claimed many lives from independence to date. In the aftermath of the Post-Election Violence, a chain of would be witnesses were systematically eliminated through extra- judicial killings:
1. Charles Ndungu Wagacha.
2. Maina Diambo.
3. Naftali Irungu alias “Marcus.” 4. Anthony Mwenje alias “Noriega.”
5. Njoroge Gichere.
6. Timothy Mburu Gatira.
7. Njuguna Gitau Njuguna.
8. George Njoroge Wagacha alias “Afco”.
9. Meshack Yebei.
10. John Kituyi.
This philosophy of extra-judicial killings had previously claimed Pio Gama Pinto, Thomas Joseph Mboya, J.M. Kariuki, Dr Crispin Odhiambo Mbai, Bishop Alexander Kipsang arap Muge, Sheikh Mohammed Idris, chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, Sheikh Abubakar
Shariff Ahmed, alias Makaburi, among others.
In virtually all these cases, no one has been held to account. Each of these extra- judicial killings has created lingering pain in families, friends and the citizens. Each of these killings has created a feeling of loneliness and helplessness that make some of us ask; has God abandoned Kenya? We do not need more pain, more hatred, more violence, more lawlessness and more divisions in Kenya.
Kenya needs love, wisdom, compassion, empathy and tolerance towards one another. We need justice for those who feel they have been victims of injustice.
So as we take Jacob to his final home, I ask each of us to say a prayer for his family… yes they need my and your prayer.
But more importantly, let each of us say a prayer for our own country and for an end to the philosophy, the system, the way of life, which has produced and continues to produce the murderers and believers in extra-judicial killings.
Thank you very much.