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Hug thy enemy, the season for bonding is here


Hug thy enemy, the season for bonding is here

Publication Date: 3/17/2008

The good thing about being a Kenyan politician is that one can always swallow one’s own words and never ever be at risk of getting a stomach upset.

Words are an important component in the diet of the living.

It is words — high-powered talks for that matter — that have been enriching our screens and filling our pages as the political farce reminds us a rather painful truth – that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.

Who would have ever imagined that Mr Raila Odinga would one day sit across the table — for lunch — with Ms Martha Karua and probably exchange pleasantries such as “It is good to see you” or “Bon appetite”.

Even as the leaders engage in amiable exchanges, Kenyans sit on the edge of anxiety, fingers of fear fumbling around the rims of hope. Most are wondering: Will the power-sharing deal work or not?

Success of the deal

I know that Mr Koffi Annan is equally concerned for the success of a deal he helped to broker.

It is a new dawn no doubt; devoid of the heated, hard-liner exchanges of the past two months. Oh, how I wish I was a fly on the wall at the Grand Regency last week to watch the Prime-Minister designate tease a smiling nod from the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister.

“Yes, I had lunch with the prime minister designate… he is going to be a government official and there is need for us to work closely together,” Ms Karua said after the meeting.

Hearing her speak, I heaved a sigh of relief. Miracles do happen after all – which could very well be outlining a new dawn for the country.

Was it a sigh of relief that some sanity was finally settling among the two great divides of power in this country or was it an angry sigh that confirms that Kenyans were once again duped to a very tragic and violent duel as they danced to the whims of politicians?

The answer is in the hearts and minds of many Kenyans who despite the power-sharing deal and a rather uneasy peace have become sceptical of the political class.

I heard last week, from an expert psychologist, that the backlash of what Kenyans witnessed after December 30 and the days that followed is actually yet to explode. According to the expert, very soon, the bigwigs in the august House will have nothing but utterly traumatised and mentally disturbed Kenyans to govern. Only then will they understand just how deeply the country was scarred and just how adversely affected people were. And when that happens, the leaders will be forced to embrace a major paradigm shift in leadership.

Back in the corridors of power, our politicians are in such a frenzied mood it is becoming difficult to have some of them wipe out self-satisfied grins from their faces.

Thankfully, now things are looking up. Even the stock market is poised to recover from its downturn. And Finance Minister Amos Kimunya was happy to report that Mr Odinga had endorsed the sale of Safaricom shares. Yet, only last December, the two disagreed bitterly over the same transaction.

So if it is this bonding that is saving the lives of Kenyans in the violence prone regions, then they must be encouraged to bond all the more. They should talk to each other as much as they can, even to the point of literally swapping faces like Nicholas Cage and John Travolta in the movie Face-off.

Talk from dawn to dusk and ask yourselves whether the blood of 1,200 Kenyans that was spilled in the wake of the disputed elections was worth it.

Yes, go ahead and bond and be brutally honest with each other that you have indeed lost the gumption of leadership that could have endeared you to 34 million Kenyans as men and women of integrity, dignity, charisma and veracity.

But talks can be expensive too, sometimes too expensive to the point of vexing an already scarred spirit of the good people of this country. History proves that the political class throws in quiet some dazzling budget in the name of “hosting talks”.  Even the city councillors were recently photographed as they waded in salty water at the Coast where they had gone to “talk” about the mayoral election. It would appear that it is indeed in the nature of Kenyan politicians to talk and “bond”.

Very well, but please not at the expense of the taxpayer as it almost happened last week when apparently our politicians wanted to go to Mombasa to bond. How cosy that they can even think of such a thing when millions of Kenyans from different communities are struggling to accept each other after neighbour turned against neighbour during the post-elections crisis.

So much trauma

Were it the choice of many of us, we would have loved to have the whole country flown to the beaches of Hawaii just to “bond” after going through so much trauma.

It is therefore officially bonding time in the political arena. In the meantime, you and I will overcome the initial shock of seeing “sworn political enemies” embrace and pat each other on the back amid roaring laughter.
Maybe as a result, you and I will also begin to “bond”.  May be.

New voices rising up from the ghetto

It’s revolution time in the ghettoes and the words of Reggae maestro Mighty Culture might just come to pass. The ghettoes are on the rise and the tag that condemns them to poverty and hopelessness might just be a thing of the past sooner rather than later.

I understood why when on Saturday at Tangaza College, voices from the slums came together to say what needs to be said: Focus on the Babylon of ideas and chart a plan to escape from the oppressions of the poor man.

If you have been listening, you will have realised that the airwaves are now awash with ghetto anthems.  Reggae has never been so loudly pronounced as it is now. And why not?  Within a very short period, liberalisation of the airwaves has given birth to community radio stations that could very soon give mainstream stations a run for their money.

Take your pick; Koch FM, Pamoja FM, Ghetto Radio, Ghetto FM, Umoja FM and many others are on the way to reclaim the ownership of the ghetto’s ear.

In Kibera, Majengo, Mathare, Korogocho, Kariobangi, Kawangware and many other ghettoes in this town, these are the stations to tune to because they speak the language of the poor man – the downtrodden, the lowly.

“Sometimes I wonder if we are the ones breaking the law or if it is the law breaking us,” said a voice from one of the FM stations as he lamented injustices against the poor in the slums.

A revolution of sorts that is what it is. When a mass of the largely under-privileged finally finds a channel that gives a voice to their plight, then something is about to happen. The status quo is bound to be shaken when the Rasta man rises and wants to shake his dreadlocks. Watch this space for more positive vibrations from the ghettoes.

Women not just scheming to grab top jobs, they are leading the way

Methinks women are not only scheming to grab some top-notch jobs as a report in the Saturday Nation indicated. They are in fact trail-blazing in the world of professionals.

Ever heard of a female police-pilot or a maxillofacial surgeon? Well, I had the opportunity to mingle with them. I was thoroughly intimidated by youthful Sergeant Claire Muigai of the Kenya Police Force that not only can she fly planes she can actually also arrest me!

Then came a surprisingly tiny-sized doctor Fawzia Butt with a profession that can I can hardly pronounce because. She is a Maxillofacial surgeon.  It is extremely fascinating I must say, to learn from Dr Butt that her speciality restores smiles on people’s faces and corrects deformities from the neck upwards, yet she is barely in her thirties!

I was equally impressed by the calm but firm Engineer Christine Ogut who has overcome many challenges to scale the heights in this male-dominated profession.

Young women are increasingly making inroads in the professions, egged on by a campaign dubbed Make Everyday Count by Fair & Lovely. The campaign targets girls and helps them demystify the careers traditionally meant to be no-go zones for them. “Go girls, go!”

Write to the author

About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.



  1. Pingback: Hug thy enemy, the season for bonding is here - March 17, 2008

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