Uhuru Park memo

March 7, 2006 at 3:09 pm 42 comments

It was refreshing to be in Nairobi and attending a
public rally, something I had not done since I was
here to vote in the referendum campaigns.
Nairobi is a busy capital; I needed no further
testimony of that as I boarded a Matatu to the CBD.
Continuing my feel of the average mwananchi, I
alighted at the Uhuru Highway-Haile Selassie junction
to walk the rest of the way.
A few people loittered around the City Council pond at
Uhuru Park, but most people sat peacefully near the
dais; waiting for the politicians to arrive.
That was 9:47 a.m; I realized I had been a little too
early.
But I saw some of my friends in the press corps, so I
moved towards them to play some catch-up.
It’s long since I penned down a story for anyone, so
it was nice to be “refreshed” on what is cutting in
some of the Kenyan media houses.
Still, no politician had arrived, but the crowd was
swelling.
I saw CNN’s Jeff Koinange (in a red top) take a
lengthy call on his phone while strolling towards one
of the “valleys” at the park, just at the same time as
Raila and company walked up the path that links the
dais and the City Council pond.
A section of the crowd that had already began pressing
the police near All Saints retreated when they heard
Raila had arrived; the crowd rushed back to the dais.

Raila is not loved and hated for nothing; the man
could barely move.
Besides him were Linah Jebii Kilimo, Ochillo Ayacko,
Anyang’ Nyong’o, Nick Salat, William Ruto, Kalonzo
Musyoka and others but everyone in the crowd wanted to
touch him – Raila.
Security guards cleared the way for members of the
press corp to take shots of Raila and his group, but
that was still a struggle to say the least.
The crowd stood still, shouting in a frenzy that
“Michuki must go” as the politicians waited for the
public address system to be brought.
In a short while, a while Land Rover pulled by; the
politicians went atop it as the crowds and journalists
jostled to get a better view of the action.
It was Raila outlining the streets and avenues the
procession would take; no violence or looting, he
stressed.
PPO Mwangi King’ori came by and passed on some message
to the politicians above the din of some in the crowd
that were asking if he was a snake or not.
He didn’t seem to be armed and neither was he harmed;
though his guards whisked him away a little too fast.

I couldn’t secure an interview with anyone of the
politicians as they led the crowd along Kenyatta
Avenue, pushing for space so that they themselves
could breath.
When we got near Nyayp House, someone in the press
corp shouted there could be some news behind us and as
sure as that could be, we saw Linah struggling to
catch up with the rest of the politicians; it wasn’t
clear what had held her back, but the procession now
moved on.
At Teleposta, the crowd stopped again, as some
requested passengers to join them in the protests;
some did, others didn’t.
Negotiating one’s way to Bunge then Harambee House was
proving difficult as more folks joined the procession;
I had to leave my media colleagues, make my way via
Holy family Basillica and jump over its fence with
other wananchi so as to catch up with the crowd on its
way past Bunge.
Faithfuls and a few nuns at the Basillica gate watched
us in amazement, as the guards shut the gates behind
us to block others who had been keen to follow us.
I got to Harambee just in good time; the politicians
had began speaking.
Activities around town had come to a standstill as
civil servants and pedestrians strove to keep up with
the action; the former watched through windows as
others stood at their verandas.
Policemen lining the procession paths and defending
government buildings and installations were most
peaceful; I shook the hand of one who transferred his
rungu and ngao to his left hand to greet me
“properly.”
Raila, Ruto, Linah and Kalonzo (I don’t recall anyone
else speaking at this point) called for Michuki to
resign as the crowd roared along.
The journey along Harambee Avenue on our way back to
Uhuru Park was punctuated with catcalls near the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs….the victim this time
round was….you guessed it, Tuju.
“Alipata 850 Ramba mwaka jana, tutampa sufuri
akijaribu next year,” a youngman shouted besides me.
Others took up the call.
The journey to Uhuru Park was uneventful, save for
near the Intercon when some fellow shouted
obscenities at Raila who had already passed the place.
Well, well…thank the crowds again….they nearly
stormed the place to lynch the fellow who had by then
taken refuge there….but calmly walked on when some
ODM activists urged them to achane naye.
I asked NTV’s Robert Nangila if he could let me give
him a soundbyte for the incident (:-) but akasema
cameraman wake alikuwa ashaenda na wanasiasa.
Uhuru Park was, for kitu 15 minutes, a mess as
everyone tried to be near the press corps (you know
why).
Eventually Reuben Ndolo got the increasingly large
crowd (bigger than the one that had began the
maandamano a few minutes before) to relax and listen
to the politicians.
– There was this mhindi….sijui jina lake…but he
spoke well…nasikia yeye ndiye dawa ya Mwenje huko
Embakasi 2007.
– Ntimama was witty…he struck a chord with the crowd
when he said “Kibaki toka” instead of “Kibaki tosha.”
But that Nkaisserry was allowed to speak for much
longer perhaps indicates a shift in Maasai politics.
The last time I went to Narok, I learnt that Ntimama
does not intend to run next year. So maybe – just
maybe – Nkaissery might take that mantle. A youngman
I helped campaign for in Kajiado South might not make
it back if he isn’t too careful with his
constituents….because they are no longer with the
people he is supporting in govt….Enough of the
Maasai politics.
– Gumo worked the crowd…….
– Nyong’o steered clear of Anglo Leasing…..
– Ayacko blasted Ndingi, Mutava and Nzimbi for
boot-licking the powers-that-be.
– Magara was the youth’s hero….and he worked them
too….Nyachae definitely has some homework to do in
Gusiiland.
There were others…but I must end now….
– Linah acted the mother…and she got away with
it..the crowds adored her; “Mama Chungwa” – they
shouted.
– Ruto was in his element; no one could have spoken
for the media any better than he did, not even the
Standard Group’s lawyer (Otiendo Ommollo) and the
embattled KUJ Chairman Tervil Okoko could beat him at
it. Ruto was a darling of the crowd. Same thing with
George Khaniri. Mudavadi also did well with the
speechwork, bemoaning the “unknown” chains of command
in the country’s security apparatus.
– Kalonzo proclaimed something he said would, from now
onwards, be known as Press Freedom Day. But he
appeard apprehensive and somehow brow-beaten as he
ploughed through his remarks. As he spoke, the young
men and women around me were asking him to state
whether or not he had met the President in secret. I
don’t know, but the mixed signals in the crowd appeard
to be taking some confidence away from him. He led
the crowd in a half-hearted backing of Ali in his
“wars” with Michuki and his boys in the police force,
apart from “forgiving” him for the referendum Kisumu
and Likoni deaths. I don’t know again, but I think
that might haunt him some day.
– Raila sounded like Cozy Aquino and the Filipino
crowds in 1986…his remarks were classic anti-govt
rhetoric. He repeated his remarks about the “foreign”
merceneries that reportedly led the raids on the
Standard Group. He also said he won’t obey the
police’s summons for him to write a statement with
them over that. By that time Jeff Koinange had moved
closer to the politicians. I think he was among those
the press corps who asked that both Kalonzo and Raila
repeat their remarks in English for a wider audience.

I left the place certain that way beyond the Standard
Group and, by extension, the rest of the media, the
day’s biggest winner had been the ODM.
Public opinion is with the ODM; Michuki gave them that
gift at a crucial time.
It will be interesting to see how Kibaki fights to
re-claim his place in the hearts and minds of Kenyans.

I had better leave now: I’ll let the pro and anti-govt
editors do their spinning in their evening broadcasts
and kesho’s dailies:-)
It was good to be here at this time, witnessing these
small bits of history unfolding.
Nitarudi kupiga kura yangu baadaye.
And I’ll cover any protest in future if I can, be it
pro or anti-govt.

___________________________________________________________
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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Michuki, Kagwe & Koigi can’t eat their cake and still have it! Extra Weekly Citizen article

42 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bankelele  |  March 7, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    Very good summary, feels like I was there. The mhindi of Embakasi is called Sumra i believe.

    Reply
  • 2. Ken O.  |  March 7, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    With a graphic detail like this, I feel like I attended the rally from my comp! Good work JM

    Reply
  • 3. Machozi  |  March 7, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    Amazing post felt as if i was moving with you and the crowd..Cheers!

    Reply
  • 4. Pukks  |  March 7, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    @Jesse – thank you for blow by blow account of the march. You are right I dont think the papers will go into that detail. Every time I hear of Ruto’s oratarial skills I feel very pround within me. He was my student for four years (Form I to IV) and I taught him language. Whatever people say about him now I dont know – what I know is that he was the Chairman of Christian Union. I was the patron and I can tell you he knew his Bible. He was humble and obedient. I have no problem with him seeking high office. (Now I await bomb shells from forummers)

    Reply
  • 5. Guessaurus  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Thanks for the heads-up, and the brilliant summary. Feels so real-time.

    Looking forward to reading more from you about this.

    Reply
  • 6. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:46 am

    Jesse–

    Thanks for the early unedited log. It left me wondering what the march’s purpose was exactly and whether they achieved it. Was it just symbolic demonstration and chanting? So what if they called on Michuki to resign, will they follow up if he doesn’t, and when? All the same, I think Kalonzo has burnt his bridges in ODM; I read him yesterday lamenting that ODM is out to finish him, so I can’t fathom how he can continue associating with a group out to burry him. It’s his prerogative. That quip about Tuju was hilarious; what happened to the guy, he’s uncharacteristically quiet.

    Reply
  • 7. Kenyananalyst  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:47 am

    Jikz –

    Tiz true, I had and still have had no time to do any decent editing of the log….twaz penned down in haste; probably twaz better that way.
    The Michuki issue….

    Kalonzo said they will follow up on it on 21st…..

    Raila said they will follow up on it kesho…..when they meet to announce a parallel review team….

    Talk of reading from different scripts, eh!

    Sources say their goal had been to rattle the govt :-)….spin-docs on their side say they are satisfied with the outcome.

    The early evening edition of the Beeb’s Focus on Africa prog. (widely listened in the country, alongside its Dira ya Dunia cousin, beyond the 680 million-plus African audience) appeared to mirror expectations of the ODM’s spin-docs.

    I’m made to understand by govt and opposition sources that today went generally well for the ODM countrywide.

    Kalonzo…..has an uphill task….convincing his team-mates…that he can be a trustworthy and “sellable” commodity….that’s the low-down of it at the top of the hour in the grapevine 🙂

    Tuju….Tuju….Tuju….the 411 on him ain’t too good….I can’t go into that here.

    You had asked me the question you’ve asked Pukks a few days ago….again, without yapping sana, I’ll tell you Ruto is a man to be watched.

    Moi should not think he’ll lead Kalenjins the Uhuru way as easily as he did in 2002, and neither should Uhuru imagine that Kibaki’s current woes are any blessing to him beyond CP (not even the Anglo Leasing report, when it comes out, could enlarge his territory. There’s a serious credibility issue with our brothers and sisters from CP; sad but true. Kathleen Kihanya, his PR hatchetwoman, has some fine work to do).

    RVP, particularly its youth vote, is thinking Ruto seriously….and a possible Raila-Ruto pact of some sorts…..

    Well, that was it.

    I’ll post anything else I find on my blog…probably edited this time round 🙂

    Reply
  • 8. Onjiko  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:48 am

    esse,

    Thanks for the informative review of the march, I have indeed enjoyed reading it.

    Jikz,

    The up coming pattern looks quite interesting and with NARC’s getting burried, and potential presidential candidates targeting different regions eg

    1.Ruto trying to establish his base in RVP.

    2. Kalonzo is targeting RVP and Coastal P

    3. Uhuru is targeting Central and RVP

    4. Raila is targeting Nairobi and Coastal P

    I hope to see new alliances being formed and ODM breaking as already observed.I wish we could have some measures to check the next goverment.

    Reply
  • 9. Pukks  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:48 am

    Yes I taught Ruto well and he respects me to date. Any time I am in Kenya and we meet he will always stop – no matter how busy and have a lively conversation with me.

    However let me tell the forummers that Rutto will not make it as a Presidential candidate. Inward Rutto is a good man but unfortunately the politics of ethnicity will be his undoing and NOT Moi. Rutto (Wlliam Samoei Rutto) is originally from Kipsigis. He grew up in Uasin Gishu and did his primary school in Uasin Gishu. He also did his secondary (both O and A) in Uasin Gishu. Now the people of Uasin Gishu view him as a visitor – an alien. There is talk that he is driving some air from Kosgey who is the son of a real Nandi. He cant go back to Kipsigis because nobody knows him there.

    He might be the president Kenya might not have. Otherwise if he stands – he has my vote. If only Narc had continued to narture the detrabalisation that had started. Did you see the people who surrounded Kibaki in December 2002? That was Kenya. Do you know the peope surrounding Kibaki now? Guess! For this reason people have started retreating again to their tribal cocoons.

    I only wish that the Church, and the progressive young people will come out in the open and reclaim Kenya for Kenya not Kenya for their tribes.

    Reply
  • 10. Pukks  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:49 am

    @Jesse

    Be keeping us posted – whenever you have something in your blog please inform us. I wish it was possible to subscribe to your blog by email. That way we can get news via email.

    ODM should really watch now – there will be charlattans among them. There will be Judases. If only they can prove the test of time and hang together until elections they will be winners or else to paraphrase a former President of USA they will surely be hang separetly.

    @ All

    I enjoyed my days as a teacher – however I made a big U turn. I entered the world of NGOs and development and got lost. I have written a book which is coming out next month with a foreword written by Robert Chambers – anybody out there ready to review it for me for the consumption of the papers in Kenya?

    Reply
  • 11. mentalacrobatics  |  March 8, 2006 at 12:54 am

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply
  • 12. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 1:13 am

    Pukks is there an email one can reach you at. I know someone who can do the review for you. Let me know.

    Me

    Reply
  • 13. Afro  |  March 8, 2006 at 2:20 am

    very good post, thank you, very much appreciated, since some of us are so far flung.

    Reply
  • 14. Adrian  |  March 8, 2006 at 2:54 am

    being from loitokitok, i had to smile when you mention the young man from kajiado south. while at home over christmas, most of the feedback on him was… eeemmm… negative. and a lot of in-fighting…

    Reply
  • 15. Medusa  |  March 8, 2006 at 4:22 am

    What a great read..Confirms my suspicions somewhat-that this would turn into an ODM campaign. This was a great initiative though,..we’re staying tuned to see where this takes us as a nation. Thanks man!

    Reply
  • 16. Shiroh  |  March 8, 2006 at 8:03 am

    Methinks those ODM FELLOWS are LARGER SNAKES than Michuki.

    Good coverage. Thanks the Government didn’t even think of dispersing them, it would have turned ugly.

    Reply
  • 17. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 8:30 am

    @ me
    my email is afsc@teledata.mz
    I am in Mozambique.

    Reply
  • 18. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 8:32 am

    @me
    You asked for my email address for the book review.
    The title of the book is “Participatory Learning and Action: A Guide to Best Practice”
    email me at afsc@teledata.mz
    Thanks
    Pukks

    Reply
  • 19. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 8:32 am

    How come comments posted in OPC have ended in this blog?
    Pukks

    Reply
  • 20. tom  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:05 am

    …good reporting jesse, thats why you missed out at breakfast and the better part of the morn! we could do with some photographs in future? i agree there is a lot of political re-alignments happening now. kalonzo seems to have lost his grip…uhuru is missing in action – and…being replaced? And today, Ali seems to have lots of troubles…i wish he gets smart with these guys..

    Reply
  • 21. Kenyananalyst  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:21 am

    HI EVERYONE –
    THANKS FOR CONTINUING TO READ AND CONTRIBUTING.
    PLEASE POST ONLY THAT WHICH IS YOURS; DON’T IBA IDEAS FROM ELSEWHERE.
    IF YOU MUST SECOND-POST ANYTHING YOU HAVE POSTED ELSEWHERE, PLEASE USE THE SAME HANDLES YOU HAVE USED THERE.
    CHEERS!

    Reply
  • 22. Kenyananalyst  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:24 am

    Adrian –
    it is a good thing you guys are putting Ole Metito on his toes….

    Reply
  • 23. Stella  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Hi
    I support the whole process since there is no need of muzzling the press. Time us come for us to stand and fight for our rights. There is no need of being surpressed by Me- Chuki and yet you know the named guy as served in the Kenyatta’s government and Kibaki’s govt. While his son in law Mutahi Kagwe has to support him. What is all this ……. what can you call it. Kudos for your sacrifice !!!!

    Reply
  • 24. Raphael mudskippah  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:47 am

    I just wanted to add my opinion on all these ODM and rainbow and snake and what-have-you rallies that Kenyans’ favourite means of political expression. The show one thing about the political scheme of things in this country: THE MIDDLE CLASS DOES NOT EXIST.

    In our political movie there are two main characters: THE RICH ELITE and THE POOR MASSES. The poor masses are ill-informed, mis-informed pawns easily manipulated with propaganda. They are extremely easy to control, just press the tribe button, adjust the food-and-basic-needs dial and you get them to move any way. The reason they are strategically important to the elite is simple: THEY FORM 70% of Kenya’s population. And in a democrazy like ours all you need is a simple majority. An immense resource for the powers that be because they are a dam of votes. Almost like the human energy supply for the machines in The Matrix.

    The middle class are too few. They may be informed, educated, critical, but they lack economic muscle, which is what the game is all about. They are shut our of the media, out of parliament, out of the stock market, out of business… All they can do is write letters to the editor. And vote. And now they have started to blog.

    But the sound they make makes little impact when all the residents of Kibera are in Uhuru park chanting and trembling in worship of Raila, god of the circus.

    What’s my point?

    We, the middleclass of this country, have to think up more creative ways of influencing the scenario, because we are locked out of the mainstream. Blogsphere is a great place to start. So is conscious music. Ukoo Flani holla if you hear me. What else?

    Last word: The middle class may not appear in the political radar, but it is very significant in anothe important screen: Economics. But that’s for the next blog.

    Over to you.

    Reply
  • 25. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Hey thanks for the vivid moment by moment narration of jana’s march.I am a little concerned bout this tribalism thing,esp. when there is absolutely no need for it ( not that there is ever a need)what’s this nonesence bout pro gava marches,for what,on what n about what? Kibs should know for free that his silence is not a virtue but a serious sign of weakness.if only the Church leadership would offer half of the strength they use on blasting faithfuls on observing the tithe,on demanding for good governance and accountability.Ndingi n the rest that make news r hopelessly not useful (read useless) to Kenyans. God help us

    Reply
  • 26. Anonymous  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:53 am

    can somebody tell the busy bodies that are likes of Mutua katuku n the like that NARC Kenya or NARC whatever will not make us vote these traitors in office again.We will not vote for the Chameleons,snakes,krokondails and any other human reptile even if they call their party KIBAKI.

    Reply
  • 27. Kenyananalyst  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:56 am

    Raphael –

    I resonate with much of what you’ve said….

    The middle-class is long-dead….plus the civil society (kwanza the Church)….

    Something happens among the poor in Orwell’s BIG BROTHER….

    Do you think it could happen in Kenya?

    Reply
  • 28. Mocha!  |  March 8, 2006 at 11:43 am

    hey…thanks for touching base and for the memo.

    keep it up!

    Reply
  • 29. Pukks  |  March 8, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    I am still waiting for the gentlemen/lady who wanted to review my book
    Pukks = afsc@teledata.mz

    Reply
  • 30. Pukks  |  March 8, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    I give up

    Reply
  • 31. kinyi  |  March 8, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Good heads up!
    Thanx…hehe it has that truly Kenyan quality of jumping of fences and such LOL!

    Aside: Jeff was probably sending his voice over by phone…LOL…just kidding…

    Nice one, look foward to more…

    Reply
  • 32. jke  |  March 8, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    Thx!

    Reply
  • 33. WM  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    Wow, I could practically feel the crowd pressing in on me. Lovely work, thanks for taking us there.

    Reply
  • 34. Ann  |  March 8, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    Hi guys,
    You will agree with me he’s one of Kenya’ finest writers. Did a pretty good job here….you will enjoy. Keep it J.

    Reply
  • 35. Deno  |  March 9, 2006 at 6:06 am

    Awesome stuff KA..Pundit away!

    Reply
  • 36. Musa R  |  March 9, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Excellent post. Captured the events of that day and the public mood quite well. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. For those of us far away from home, such an article is a gemstone.

    Reply
  • 37. Anonymous  |  March 10, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    EXCELENT WORK SIR… I know u O… Chief N. is very proud of u O… The Kenyans here in Lagos are singing ur praises O…

    Keep up the good work.

    O.S.

    Reply
  • 38. Anonymous  |  March 10, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    superb Jesse. Thanks for your comprehensive summary report. Keep the mantle burning

    Reply
  • 39. Anonymous  |  March 10, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    superb Jesse. Thanks for your comprehensive summary report. Keep the mantle burning

    Reply
  • 40. Pharlap Banks  |  March 11, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    That muhindi from embakasi is a good man. He owns several quarrys around that area and has employed a vast majority of the residents. He built a small estate for them and a nursery and primary school. That is someone who is beneficial to the community. I think i would give him my vote as opposed to mwenje who despite having converted to christianoty, still has a few things hanging around him.

    Reply
  • 41. Ntwiga  |  March 13, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write this post.

    Nothing beats a “from the midst crowd” type report for giving a real feel of what is really going going since most of Kenya’s formal media always seems to have an editorial slant.

    Reply
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