By G Oguda
I have read Reverend Mutava Musyimi’s response to Dr. David Ndii’s article on Saturday, and I have never read a more shallow politically-correct response than it. He writes, and I quote;
“Just one question. Will there be any violence in the doubtless middle or upper class neighbourhood in which David Ndii lives? It is well known that in 2007/08 all the violence in Nairobi was concentrated in poor neighbourhoods and slums where people were manipulated by comfortable elites to fight on behalf of those elites who sought power…”
Let me tell you something.
The Igbo, of Nigeria, have a time tested-saying, that “All dogs eat faeces, but the one in whose mouth it is found is worse than the rest.” If I were offered three benefits to bestow to my grandchildren, they would be native intelligence, a metabolism that did not produce surplus fat and David Ndii’s capacity to be brutally honest whether he is admired or not.
Reverend Mutava Musyimi is wrong to insinuate that violence in 2007/08 was sparked off, and bankrolled by, the ruling elite. 2007/08 post-election violence found me living in Lindi, deep inside Kibera slums and I can tell you the Kikuyus of Laini Saba or the Luos of Gatwekera did not need any funding to express their discontent the way they did.
If anyone from Lindi was funded to go uproot the Kenya-Uganda railway line in Mashimoni, then my Kamba neighbour who slept and dreamt Raila Odinga has never received his faie share.
What Rev. Mutava Musyimi wrote in there is the common narrative that has aways been advanced my men of comfort historically deluded that the poor have neither the independent minds nor the courage to express their discontent with status quo.
And he is dead wrong.
I was inside the Nyayo National Stadium yesterday when that much publicised carnage broke out. Nyayo National Stadium, for those who’ve attended a game there, is a 30,000 holding arena. You have the VIP section ring-fenced by razor wire and sharp spikes. It’s designed to take the shape of a maximum security fortress where even the most brave of hooligans wouldn’t scale up to disturb the egos of the ruling class rubbing their bellies under the shade. The terraces, aptly nicknamed ‘Russia’, is a bedrock of hard knock communism.
The tickets are cheaper, the overhead sun roasts your mango head you are more likely to catch a debilitating heat rash after the 90’, the fans are more charitable they share dicotyledon nuts with each other. At the VIP section, its about which latest car you’re driving or which next deal you’re about to clinch. At the Russia, it is about how your sickly children are fairing on or whether the landlord got to sink the pit latrine so that you don’t fly toilets any longer. Russia was designed for the dregs of society.
It is in Russia where spontaneous violence broke out yesterday, after that Zimbabwean referee allowed the controversial goal to stand. What began as a harmless show of vocal disapproval quickly degenerated into objects flying into the playing surface, and would’ve been contained had the referee consulted his assistant and chalked off the goal.
But he stuck to his partial militancy and, as predicted, the small gate leading into the stadium from the Russia section came down. It was always going to be a battle on who’ll get the collar of the referee first, between that enraged fan who had torn his vest and was baying for blood, or the Kenya Police lazybones who were more of spectators than crime busters. The Kenya Police, miraculously, got there first and put a human shield around the match officials.
Then backup was radioed, and immediately we saw the platoon commander of the General Service Unit surveying the battle-field, it was clear that we were in for war. The Russia trouble-makers had been marked for maiming.
All along, the VIP section were openly cheering the duel, choosing not to take sides with either the heavy-handed Police or the fleet-footed Russians. It was typical middle-class response.
But if the VIPs thought that the Russians were only angered by officiating injustice and Police brutality, they were in for a rude shock. The original plan was to use teargas to chase off the Russian sufferers out of the stadium so that the VIPs entertainment could go on.
But they thought wrong.
Most Russians, predictably, went out to catch a breather, but some of the hardcore ones did the unthinkable and scaled off the razor wired fence into the VIP section, and brought the battle deep inside the comfort zone of the VIPs. The VIPs were still reeling from the shock of mingling with filth, until the moment they saw a plastic bottle leave the VIP section targeted at one of the cops with a teargas canister. That’s the moment they realised that if Nyayo Stadium burns, they shall all burn in it. Shit, as we know it, had hit the fan. The cops, who were hitherto preoccupied with the Russians, turned their guns at the VIP section and quickly went into a conference on whether a canister should be lobbed in there too, or not.
I have never seen pot-bellied cowards run for their dear lives. A gas canister had not even been lobbed in there but the VIP section emptied quicker than Aden Duale’s jug of verbal vomit. The rest who remained quickly started a dialogue forum with the cops making a powerpoint presentation on why they should be spared from the hastily organised marathon. If ever there was proof that the Kenyan middle-class have to fight side-by-side with the poor of this country, or they will all perish in this simmering bowl of political soup, yesterday provided us with the most stonewall of evidence.
The poor, of this country, are tired of shouldering the disproportionate burden of ethnopolitical violence and they are willing, by all means, to drag the comfortable middle class into it.
Because they feel letdown by the people who should be fighting their wars at the policy level. And no other middle-class sellout typifies this discontent than Reverend Mutava Musyimi – an ex-human rights activist whose official title is MP for Mbeere South but whose real role is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s turncoat bootlicker.
Reading that rebuttal in the papers, you get the feeling that he was pawing the ground like an impatient horse, it is a mannerism that we’ve come to know all too well. This is a Mr. Mutava Musyimi who earned his name fighting for the rights of the economical marginalised and politically repressed.
Life in parliament is, clearly, full of delights for new MPs, avoid them. When President Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and the FBI. But that is a far-fetched possibility in Kenya, where a Jubilee-controlled parliament have abandoned public interest legislation to dance themselves lame covering up the executive’s ass. Led by, pitifully, Rev. Mutava Musyimi.
The brutally honest opinion Dr. Ndii wrote in the Nation on Saturday have one clear message That “the bootlicking August House have not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.” If the institutions charged with speaking truth to power have been grossly blackmailed, or intimidated, or coerced, or bribed, it is beholden upon Kenyans of goodwill, like Dr. Ndii, to flag up these uncomfortable truths to help us forestall a painful breakaway next year.
The Great Chinua Achebe writes, in his groundbreaking book “There Was A Country; A Personal History of Biafra”, and I quote; “…we did not make the world, so there should be no reason we should be quarrelling with the number of cultures there are. If any group decides on its own that its culture is not worth talking about, it can stop talking about it. But I don’t think anybody can suggest to another person, please drop your culture lets use mine. Thats the height of arrogance and the boast of imperialism. I think cultures know how to fight their battles; cultures know how to struggle. It is up to the owners of any particular culture to ensure it survives, or if they don’t want it to survive, they should act accordingly…”
Let the 42+ cultures that make up Kenya decide whether they want to be autonomous, or not. Let no one scaremonger them with threats or intimidation. The media have failed to highlight these issues, so the public will take matters into their own hands and do what they want for freedom. Chinua Achebe adds, and I quote; “…decency and civilisation would insist that journalists take sides with the powerless. Clearly there is no moral obligation to write in any particular way. But there is a moral obligation, I think, not to ally oneself with power against the powerless…”
What Dr. Ndii, and oppressed Kenyans, are demanding is not a perfect country. We recognise that Kenya is not an oil painting, but our face in the entire world is quickly taking that image of a bag of spanners that even our long-term girlfriend Uganda is filing for divorce against hitherto ugly Tanzanians.
This country should, and must, be rebuilt from the ground up. No patching up, or quick-fixes, will do.