The country is burning as Government watches
Published on December 8, 2007, 12:00 am
By Barrack Muluka
We are the people who have walked the talk in Lord George Byron’s words, when he said in a poem: “When you have no freedom to die for, (then) die for that of your neighbour.”
For, from Yugoslavia to Sierra Leone, and from East Timor to South Africa, Kenya is famous for global peace keeping. Over the decades, our soldiers and police officers have straddled troubled spots, dreaming of peace and placing us on the global map as international ambassadors of peace.
But back home, we are steadily perfecting the nefarious practice of living by the sword. Now it looks like we may have to prepare to die by the sword or, alternatively, bring back home our international peacekeepers; or borrow some from somewhere, to help us from ourselves.
We are bleeding and burning in Kuresoi; and we are bleeding around Mt Elgon. I have skirted the mountain region these past few days. I can report that we are in the throes of a horrendous disaster, even as the President and his competitors gallivant all over the place, making promises they know very well that they have neither the proclivity nor the ability to deliver.
What do you want a government for, if it cannot guarantee your basic and fundamental right to life, liberty, security and protection of the law as enshrined in Section 70 of the Constitution?
What do you want a government for when it cannot assure you that you are protected against wanton deprivation of life, contrary to Section 71 of the Constitution? What is the worth of a government that cannot protect your property, contrary to Section 74 of the Constitution?
What is the value of the entreaty “Kazi iendelee” when citizens burn and bleed? Why would the custodians of such a failed political dispensation want me to guarantee them continuity?
Before it can do anything else, government must protect its citizens and their property. But are there sacred cows in Government and in the political opposition, alike?
The Mt Elgon countryside is burning, courtesy of political big guns on both sides of the political divide.
At the helm of the mayhem are apparently well-trained gangsters who know how to get firearms and who know what to do with firearms. Some have their architects and prime movers in the political opposition, while government-friendly political kingpins in Rift Valley Province nudge others on. The masterminds are prominent personalities that are well known, by name and by face.
Their hirelings strike suddenly. In no time, the sound of gunfire rules the place. Homes are pillaged. Whole families are rendered homeless as fire consumes their homes, sending billows of smoke skywards and people scampering desperately. Sickly old people, feeble women and children have no idea where they will rest for the night, and absolutely none at all about their next meal.
Worse still, they expect another attack any time. They know not from which direction and from whom the attack will come.
But even as these horrific things go on relentlessly, a smiling President gravitates across the countryside, preaching a self-adulatory gospel and proclaiming that his style of leadership should continue.
The Minister for Internal Security dithers in some political museum. At one point the President comes within a stone’s throw of Mount Elgon. But it does not occur to him that his children are burning just next to the mountain. It does not occur to him that he could visit these people, console them and — better still — apply the ‘full force of the law’ to bring to an end this senseless mayhem.
Elsewhere, partisan clergymen, for their part, assemble in a city hotel to scrutinise the holy scripture for words that would suggest that a vote-seeking President who smiles when part of the country is burning is, in point of fact, the anointed one of God; a providential gift to the republic and people of Kenya.
Meanwhile the political opposition is jostling for space in the big House on the Hill. The leadership gleefully looks at Mt Elgon and at Kuresoi with relish. The burning fires of Mt Elgon and Kuresoi can deflect votes from the basket of the smiling President into those of a gleeful opposition. Never mind the real plight of the maimed and dislocated families. Never mind the daily death toll that now begins begging for its rightful place next to Darfur, Rwanda and Somalia.
If the truth were all that counted and nothing but the truth, then the world would know that there was ethnic cleansing at work. The world would be told that a key political player in Rift Valley Province is the mastermind behind the war in the two trouble spots. If we had the courage to tell the truth, we would point our fingers at the key players, call them by name and tell the world that what we were witness to today was only the tip of a horrific iceberg.
Almost everybody who is anybody in Rift Valley Province has a hand in these senseless activities. But what is difficult to understand is why the Government only looks on with a smile, or why the political opposition thinks the killings are a political Godsend for them. Pray, where is the milk of humanity in the political veins that dominate the country today?
The author is an aspirant for Khwisero seat.