By Dorcas Sarkozy
UHURU KENYATTA’S VISIT TO NYANZA: INSECURE TRIUMPHALISM; ZERO SUBSTANCE.
So Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta visited Nyanza this week and unlike the last time he visited the region, no shoes were thrown in his direction.
That’s quite an impressive “benchmark” for the supposed leader of the country – that while visiting a region within his dominion, no shoes were tossed at him!
It is also remarkable for a man whose forces brutalized and murdered person primarily from the region who were protesting his legitimacy in the wake of the contested 2017 “elections”.
Given the fawning over the “successful” visit that also featured issuance of honorariums from a local university and eating breakfast, one would think that mbele has always been sawa between the man and the region.
Fortunately, the internet has a long memory and a quick one-minute search revealed a local daily from last year with the headline: “Here’s the list of 33 people killed by police after the August 8 poll”.
Specifically, just under 50% of the names listed on the list of the deceased were names linked to the region where this man Uhuru supposedly “ate breakfast”. And to be clear, this is far from an observation aimed at “stoking ethnic animus” as some blithely opined whenever Kenya’s dark past is dredged up.
It is a reminder at an inconvenient truth:
That Uhuru Kenyatta and the man alone bears responsibility for the 2017 violence against the mainly Luo protestors – no ifs, ands or buts.
The fact that he is visiting a region which suffered the brunt of the violence perpetrated at his commands BUT has yet to offer (a) a formal and specific apology and (b) compensation to those who lost loved ones or were injured by the combination of Kenya’s law enforcement and the deputized “business communities” is the definition of “rubbing salt” in the wounds of these victims.
The foregoing also underscores how meaningless and worthless the “handshake” is turning out to be and how it gave the former crimes-against-humanity suspect the gumption with which to swag around the country secure that he won’t be booed during a visit to a region that he and his father victimized and marginalized.
Again, this is not to “stir up emotions of the past”.
It is to agitate for justice and accountability.
This is particularly true given the fact that almost a century later, ~41K descendants of the Mau Mau are still pestering the Brits to compensate them for the atrocities the colonialists perpetrated against their forefathers in the 50s and 60s. This group is the second batch of Kenyans trying to hold their tormentors accountable for past actions; this having missed out on the KSh.2.7B out-of-court settlement that some 5000+ Kenyans reached with the Brits back in 2013.
Contrastingly, victims of the violence perpetrated in the name of OR at the command of Uhuru Kenyatta’s father Jomo AND Uhuru Kenyatta himself have been told to invariably “accept and move on”, eschew “stirring up emotions of past atrocities”, “to forgive and forget the past” – all calls that have culminated in the absolutely meaningless “embrace the new dispensation brought on by the ‘handshake’…” narrative currently being spun.
If Kenya can push the British to atone for crimes they committed (against Kenyans) back in the 1950s and 1960s, it can also push itself to atone for the crimes its leadership committed against Kenyans in the late 60s, 70s and in 2017!
Anything less than the foregoing is not acceptable.
And until that happens, count me unimpressed by the “optics” of the “large crowds”, the flowing “gowns”, “breakfast in bed” and empty speechifying.
I am yet to hear Uhuru Kenyatta apologize for the high-handed manner in which forces under his command dealt with persons exercising their democratic rights.
People, including children, lost their lives and thus far, no one has been held accountable and even more to the point, none of the victims of obvious law enforcement over-reach have been thus compensated.
Chris Msando’s death has been swept under the rug.
And this is just the shit that has happened during Kenyatta Son’s time in office.
Any meaningful rapprochement should have included some of the goodies the man offered his base; those victimized the PEV-2007/8.
The Kenyan government should have compensated Kenyans who were callously brutalized last year by the forces that replaced those of the British colonizers.
Uhuru should have committed to taking care of Msando’s family – just as he offered to “protect” Nicholas Biwott’s estate – from unknown/unnamed forces. This would have been on top of fast-tracking investigations into his murder.
And this would just be the beginning.
Tom Mboya’s death – implicating his father Jomo is still shrouded in secrecy as is Robert Ouko’s death – implicating his mentor Moi.
Until the government of Kenya comes clean in its treatment of Nyanza, its leadership and her people, some of us will remain unimpressed by the “handshake”, “graduation gowns” and “breakfast”.