Sunday, June 5, 2011

Celebrating 48 years of Madaraka? What Madaraka?

Sunday Nation 05 June 2011

Last Wednesday we celebrated the day Kenya attained internal self-rule some 48 years ago.

As is customary, our political leaders trotted out in style, enumerating a litany of achievements since the first Madaraka Day, and exhorting us to continue being proud citizens of this beautiful country.

To the suffering masses, populist promises were made about reductions in prices of essential commodities and improvement of the standard of living.

It is instructive that our double-headed government has perfected the art of reacting to situations with short-term fixes, which turn out to be more expensive in the long run.

Examples abound, and a few of those include the ill-fated cheap unga (maize flour) project, price controls and tax reduction on petroleum products and even the Kazi Kwa Vijana economic stimulus programme.

Often, the real technocrats are side-stepped in these programmes for the obvious reason that real expertise is slow, painstaking and focuses on long term goals.

Politicians hungering for quick fixes with an eye on the next General Election have no time to waste on long-term thinking.

As our leaders marked our 48th Madaraka Day with pomp and pageantry, they could not have failed to notice the irony of the situation on the ground.

The Hague matter

On the eve of the celebrations, the International Criminal Court (ICC) threw out a case filed by our government challenging the admissibility of two cases arising out of the 2008 post-election violence.

At the same time, the ICC chief prosecutor accused the government of fighting on the side of impunity, instead of working to protect potential witnesses and ensure that the culprits are brought to book.

The Attorney-General’s quick statement indicating that he will appeal against the ICC ruling only served to expose the depth of desperation a wing of the government is willing to go to in order to demonstrate support for the accused in its ranks.

Even to a total lay person in matters of the law, reading the way the ICC three-judge bench shredded the government’s arguments leaves one in no doubt at all that we are just wasting our hard-earned cash on this ill-advised ego trip.

The very fact that these cases are ongoing at The Hague, characterised by some as a ‘‘foreign court’’, demonstrates that we do not have real Madaraka in this country.

Indeed, for a period of time in 2008, we were practically ruled by Kofi Annan from the Serena Hotel, on behalf of the ‘‘international community’’.

Our present government exists with support and even coercion from the same international community.

Regular reports on the state of our nation are prepared and distributed, not by our president, but by a group led by our one-time vizier, Kofi Annan.

Under these circumstances, how then can we claim to be enjoying Madaraka? What Madaraka is this, when we are saddled with a government that is impervious to reason and obvious logic?

Can anyone honestly speak of Madaraka with regard to our border communities — the Somali, the Turkana and Pokot, the Burji and Borana, among others?

How can we speak of Madaraka to people whose lives are routinely lost to hunger, bullets and disease, while government officials wring their hands and talk of diplomacy and Vision 2030?

Maybe it is time Kenyans started scouting around for new faces in leadership that will usher in true Madaraka.

Dr Lukoye Atwoli is a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer at Moi University’s school of medicine

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