Posts filed under ‘HIV / Aids’
By NJONJO MUE
O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?
You struck them, but they felt no pain;
You crushed them, but they refused correction.
They made their faces harder than stone
and refused to repent.
This week, the world celebrated as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, and Kenya basked in the reflected glory of ‘one of our own’ taking the charge of the ‘most powerful nation on earth.’ But our celebration, like so many other things in this beloved country, is a lie.
For in Kenya, we have loved lies more than truth. We have embraced the lie of individual prosperity and the lie of our tribal identities. And we have invented and believed in the lie of our greatness as a nation, while denying our state of terminal decay, or merely moaning endlessly about it without lifting a finger to address it.
Those of us in our late thirties and forties can recall when as children, we started seeing for ourselves the creeping signs of decay – occasional press stories of corruption, reports of the odd violent robbery. The attitude among adults at the time always seemed to be, “Oh well, we have our problems, but we are not as bad as Uganda, or Nigeria,” or “It’s all Moi’s fault, it’s all the Kalenjins’ fault…” The last refuge of a fading elite was to hack back to a golden era that had been golden only for themselves. “The old days were better,” they sighed with indignation. “When our people were the only ones in the civil service.”
It is like every blow that has been struck against this nation as a chance for us to recognize how far we have fallen and to prompt us to repent and return to God just hardened our resolve to ‘cope’ to ‘adjust’ to ‘make do’. Doesn’t it sound uncannily similar to Jeremiah’s lament above? Resilience is an admirable quality, but rebellion is an abomination. And the line between the two can be very thin indeed.
So you move to another suburb, or you send your children abroad when the system crumbles, or you pay up the bribe and continue doing whatever it takes. You refuse to see the kids on the street and roll up your window each time you approach the traffic lights. And they grow up and become menacing glue-sniffing teenagers. Still you ignore them and soon they are hungry and angry adults with no options left in life than to get together and organise the next car-jacking, the next bank robbery… then what do you do?
You see, if none of us takes care of Little Mutua, as he looks through the glass of your firmly shut car window, all of us will be forced to take care of Big Mutua, a few years down the line, by putting more bars on our every window, driving with our car doors firmly locked and imposing a curfew on ourselves in our city. But back to the present, and to you. You refuse to see the decay; you refuse to ask yourself what YOU can do to change the situation.
We were sent off to school full of hope and excited at the possibilities that lay ahead, but our expectations were soon crushed. Now we spend the rest of our lives making excuses why things cannot be done differently or change effected quickly. We love the lie that things are not so bad, or that things are bad and ‘someone’ is going to change them. We watch from a safe distance as people take risks and fail, and we shrug internally and think, ‘at least that wasn’t me’. We acknowledge the mess, but our reaction is to call up the university and join the Parallel Programme to enrol for another degree, and hope that by the time we are through someone will have fixed this mess so that we can get on with our lives.
We have exported our collective hopes to one Barack Hussein Obama, he of the K’Ogelo extraction, whom we have claimed as one of our own. Our leaders have fallen all over themselves to send congratulations to him as he assumes the reigns of the most powerful office on earth. They even gave us a public holiday when his people elected him their 44th President, to enable us to drink ourselves silly and numb the pain of the meaningless search for meaning that has become our daily existence, as we watch our fellow countrymen, women and children starve in the country and freeze in makeshift camps. All this while the watchers of the people’s purse refuse to pay taxes; and steal the people’s food and precious oil.
All this has got me thinking of our national anthem, that soulful prayer that we sing so frequently and mechanically exhorting God to visit our land. But do we really mean what we sing, or do we merely mock God with a prayer we have no expectation of seeing answered in our midst or any intention of working for its fulfillment in our time?
Justice be our shield and defender:
We have asked for justice to be our shield and our defender and done nothing to lift up this shield. The shield is supposed to prop itself up, somehow. We do not lift up the shield for ourselves in our prayer for the nation; we do not lift this shield up for the widow, the orphan, the IDP, the refugee, the religious minority, the kiosk owner whose livelihood is destroyed before our very eyes, the thousands of people being abused in prison, or the people who are exploited by our labour system.
So long as we can do what we want to or need to do, then these other people just have to suck up their misfortunes. We hear about different attacks on different people for different reasons, and we shrug our shoulders because that is just the way these people are.
We are convinced that it cannot be done; we are devoted to making absolutely no sacrifices that are grounded in the bigger picture of this land created by God whose blessings we are asking for in mock supplication.
We counsel our children not to ‘waste’ their lives as teachers in schools, because there is no money in teaching and the quality of education is so bad anyway. Of course once ‘someone’ fixes these things we’ll be fine, but until then, we’ll just send them to private schools, or try to get them jobs somewhere else, or whatever. We cope the best we can.
Dwelling in unity?
We want to dwell in unity, but do nothing to build that unity. We must honestly ask ourselves how are we building that unity – in big ways and in little ways? As families? As communities? As workers? There is little evidence of unity-building. Instead we tear one another down so that we can be better than the other person. In big things; in small things. We want this cake to be eaten and to be eaten now; and if at all possible, to be shared only among people who look like us and speak like us.
We desire peace and liberty, but have not made any individual sacrifices necessary to uphold this peace or to guard this liberty.
Just think about it. What are we doing? What do we desire above all else? Excellence or comfort? We have been unfaithful to God and to our country; we have raised up a generation and taught it to crave ‘Western things’ that are synonymous with comfort. We have given them nothing to safeguard, because we have made it clear by our lives that there is nothing we consider ourselves to be guardians of. Our creed has been, ‘live your life, do your best, and let someone else deal with the situation, whatever it is.’
Then the world starts crumbling around us; things that were unimaginable five or ten years ago become commonplace – gangs attacking and mutilating people in the city, car-jackings, murders, rape, mayhem, cheating in exams, no water, no electricity, no roads, thousands of road deaths, rising illiteracy, rising unemployment, post election violence – and we are shocked. SHOCKED?!
So we pick ourselves up, build higher walls around our houses, put glass on top of the concrete separating us from our neighbours or if you can afford it move into a gated compound with electric fencing, try to avoid being in the city after a certain time and adjust to a new way of life. Things are not so bad. Do your best, adjust. You woke up this morning, you went to work, you did your thing. It is bad in some ways, but it is not so bad yet. Pray for God to send someone to do something about this situation.
Plenty be found within our borders…
We want plenty within our borders, but have no regard for those lacking in our midst. We take the little available for the poor and export it to Sudan to sell at exorbitant prices while our people die of starvation and make do with wild berries for supper. We take money meant for reviving our tourism industry after the post election violence and make it disappear. We release billions of shillings worth of precious oil to thieves. All this while we use our judiciary to whitewash the scandals of the past. There is indeed plenty within these boarders; it’s just that you and I don’t get to see or touch any of it; we merely read about it in newspaper headlines.
So we hear about deaths and mayhem, and thank God it wasn’t us, and move on to the next thing. We watch the situation on TV from the comfort of our homes. And we hope someone can come and deal with this. We are being crushed under the weight of culpability in refusing to seek truth. But we harden ourselves a bit more and continue in our ways.
Yet even civilizations and empires do not fall all at once. These things begin one person at a time, in a fundamental and profound way. One person at a time, the spirit of this age is consuming the lives of men and women in this land. One person at a time, we are allowing our inheritance to be taken from us.
What are the dreams we have for this nation? What is our role in fulfilling these dreams? What can we do? In a very real way, recording these dreams, praying about them, preparing for them to come to pass is something we need to do individually and as a nation. These dreams are in every area of our lives – our families, our schools, our jobs, our courts, and our communities. Instead of seeking false comfort in the fact that ‘our own’ has become the President of the World, we should dream our own dreams and work to bring them to pass.
But first we need to seek God’s face, and be changed by Him, recognizing that He is going to change us in order to use us. If we are to be called peacemakers, then we have to be prepared to be making peace in the midst of war. Whatever it costs us, we must gain understanding from Him.
So prepare against all odds, pray against all odds, watch against all odds, and wait against all odds. But we had better not be watching and waiting for the deliverer who will fix everything for us. We are watching and waiting for the fulfillment of the purposes God has for this nation through us.
All begins and ends with me and you. God did not send an angel to build the Ark and then invite Noah into it. Noah acted on this call, and built against all odds, for the day when rain would come. And come it did. We cannot wait for another election, a new leader, a pack of ‘young turks’, a new group of reformers and leaders and politicians to fix us. WE ARE IT. Your children will grow up and their children after them in the country we are making for them today.
And although you are not the one who killed the thousands, confined the hundreds of thousands to refugee camps, stole the maize or the oil or the tourism money, you are living and participating in a society so divided, so hardened, and so filled with injustice that this was allowed to happen. So whether you like it or not, you are implicated in these actions. They are both an indictment and a call to repentance. But above all, they are a call to rise up and take our country back!
Amkeni ndugu zetu!
22nd January 2009.
FOCUS has just received a new consignment of books comprising of:
• The best Christian classics,
• Children’s books
• Bible Study Guides
• And many more.
You will be happy to know that our prices are highly subsidized.
Visit us and refresh your library, affordably!
We are open: Mon to Fri 8.30 to 5.30pm
Saturday 9.00 am to 1 pm.
We intend to stock our regional offices in Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru,
Mombasa and Nyeri from January 09 but we will have lots of books at
Commission 2008 Conference, at Kabarak University.
Contact Jane or Isaac on 0724-253530
HURRY WHILE STOCKS LAST!!!!
The e-mail from my aide in Cherangany was as simple as it was heavy.
My friend Judah had died, it said.
His young widow and child were downcast with sorrow it added.
Judah’s mum, also a widow, was in great sorrow too.
A cellphone number I had come to call often before was provided once again, with a request that I find time to talk to the widow.
Tomorrow, much of my civic ward – comprising such villages as Marura, Chebarus, Orombee, Maili Nane and Sibanga – will burry Judah.
In my attempt for parliament last year, Judah had come out strongly for me, before wavering a little later on.
But we had remained good friends, and I had visited him at home and work in Sibanga not a few times.
Much earlier, he and his dad had electrified my village with basic technology with which they were making instant murusik; we loved that kind of milk to bits!
Judah, my contemporary, struggled with his faith and identity for some long while, but had – towards the end of last year – found consolation in faith with the Anglican Church at Sibanga trading centre.
It is a shame I never honoured his invitation to visit with his congregation and, in particular, the youth ministryhe often talked about.
Apart from murusik and Church, nothing will endear Judah in my memory more than his industrious and pioneering efforts at good maize farming on his parents’ farm as well as basic IT at Sibanga.
Maize farming is a big thing at the place I call home, and those who do it well are widely respected.
His trading stall at Sibanga was one of the few in Cherangany with a PC, and when I visited the center at the beginning of my campaigns, he had been among the few to ask me what I meant by “introducing internet usage” to educated Cherangany youth.
And he also had a few tips for my soul from deep within the campaigns of some of my opponents.
A politician does not get such voters on the trail often.
I will miss him.
*Live updates by the minute.
Fireproof rocked last night.
I suggest you watch it when it is finally released later this month.
I missed Bill Bennet speaking this morning, but am in for the rest of the schedule.
I hear he spoke pretty well.
He served as Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration.
He has an interesting book out there on America’s history – The Last Best Hope, he calls it.
If I get a copy of his remarks, you certainly will have them here.
Former GOP presidential nominee Gary Bauer just finished talking too – another review of America’s present circumstances and an attempt to project its future in light of a McCain candidacy.
He has a way with words, he is a politician’s politician.
Lila Rose, a young student, is giving a presentation about Planned Parenthood, and its “genocide against blacks.”
She is white, and has been involved in “creative extremism” against PP for some while.
She then plays an undercover clip from a PP centre.
Sean Hannity of FOX is on the stage.
Thanks audience for making his show one of the best in the country.
Jokes that would like to go hunting with Palin (if you recall the story of Cheney hunting).
Jokes about recent troubles at MSNBC.
Mocks Obama, calls him Apollo for the style around the Denver Convention, and what he calls his “socialized” politics.
Goes further and says 2008 is the year journalism died in the United States, suggesting that the media has been too lenient towards Obama.
Suggests that Obama is a reincarnation of Carter, with “dangerous liberalism.”
Rehashes GOP line that all the experience Obama has is “community organizer.”
He is working up the crowd.
It would seem to me that he is responding to Bill Clinton’s glowing remarks about Obama’s candidacy Thursday in New York.
Talks about an Obama brother in Nairobi – it has been doing the rounds here for some while via viral e-mails.
Says Obama cannot be a brother’s keeper in the US if he cannot fend for that Obama on the outskirts of Nairobi, whom he says is living on less than a dollar a month.
Declares that he is offering him US$1,000 right away, and will give an additional US$10,000 via his TV show on Fox.
It is not the first time am seeing Obama’s Kenyan connection being – for lack of a better word – interrogated.
Hannity has an axe to grind against Obama – says Obama has attacked him by name a number of times.
Same with Obama’s surrogates, he says.
He has stacked up a whole range of quotes by Obama.
He attacks viciously.
Goes on to say he will host Palin on his radio show Tuesday, and TV show Wednesday.
Ends by saying the Republican party is on a resurgence after mistakes in recent years.
Gets a standing ovation.
A forum follows on the civil right to life.
Dr. Alveda King – niece to the more famous MLK – has spoken on why she opposes abortion (says she had two herself, and one miscarriage).
Bishop Harry Jackson comes on, reviews the King legacy in light of Scripture.
Speaking for himself, he says he is a Christian first, anything else (e.g conservative) second.
He suggests that he detests irreligious conservatism.
He was more of a preacher than a politician.
He has an interesting book out there, called Personal Faith, Public Policy.
Alan Sears is on now.
He is talking about the ACLU and what he considers to be its strange kind of and vision for America.
Says he is leading a battle against the ACLU, and considers it a succesful one so far.
Conservatives in Holywood made the afternoon interesting, foremost being Ken Wales (producer of Amazing Grace, who says he is now working on a sequel to Chariots of Fire).
People are breaking out into seminar tracks for topical discussions on select issues.
I think the breakouts will be the last major event of the day.
If you are an American conservative, you will not be too displeased with events so far.
A Kenyan friend tells me the audience might be deluded to think the rest of America is with them.
He says this is Obama’s and the Democrats’ year.
It has been several weeks since I returned to the US after my last sojourn.
I have been in the DC area.
There has been much to learn.
The politics are interesting too.
Today (afternoon Kenyan time), social conservatives will converge for what is being considered as one of the to-watch events before the polls: the Value Voters’ Summit (the site also includes details on how you could watch the event live online).
Both Obama and McCain are expected, but yet to confirm attendance.
I will try and blog some about it some.
I was privledged to sit in on RAO´s presentation on Kenya today at the CSIS – the audio, video and transcript are right here.
I liked the optimistic, forward looking trajectory he took on much that makes for our present condition.
The Q&A was a sizzler, including a great one on the CDF by ex-WB chief Paul Wolfowitz.
Later in the day at the George Washington University for a Kenyans-only session, RAO harped on the promise of national unity amidst the challenges presently facing the nation.
The content was in the main similar to what he had given in the morning. at CSIS – so you will not have missed anything if you just consume the web conten at CSIS.
The GWU affair was easy and generally light-hearted.
The one-liner that had everyone laughing was the tale of second-generation IDPs returning to Luo Nyanza to no home they know.
Locals, RAO said, have been laughing at them.
“How can Obama return from Chcago and pinpoint his home in Kogello yet you guys, who lived just here in Limuru and Tigoni cannot tell us where in Bondo your forefathers hailed from before they left? You cannot be serious!“
And of course he had more misemos hapa na pale.
RAO the politician was impressive.
It is difficult comprehending how anyone is going to accuse him of endangering the present coalition arrangement or, indeed, his own political future, by keeping in his present paths.
1. Defence Minister Mohammed Y. Hajji could not make it to GWU. He was resting. Had yet to adjust to the time difference, RAO said.
2. The Cabinet ministers accompanying RAO looked a tad out of place and “ignored“ during and mostly after the CSIS event. The audience then, as indeed afterwads (and at GWU), appeared largely pro-RAO and ODM (mapambano was sung, etc). All communities were visibly there. PNU still have some convincing to do, if the overall reception should mean anything.
3. Of the business cards I got from the delegation today, only a few had e-mail accounts one might consider official and safe. What other members of the delegation are still doing conducting serious government business via web-based e-mail accounts just beats me.
*The story first appeared in Kenya Weekly, a political news magazine to which I contribute these days.
By JESSE MASAI
How did Cherangany constituency join the wider North Rift in becoming a flashpoint of the violence witnessed since last year’s disputed polls?
With over 200,000 residents and just over 55,000 registered voters, few had expected the multi-ethnic area to explode, especially since it had survived the ethnic strife that hit other parts of the province in years gone by.
Cherang’any’s tranquil, for long the pride of many, was suddenly no more.
Kikuyu and Kisii residents were especially hard-hit, with over 70 of them reportedly killed, another 35,000 displaced and over 1,300 houses razed to the ground.
At the time of this writing, only Sitatunga ward, seat of Kaplamai Division and nearest to the headquarters of Trans-Nzoia East District, appeared to have had no ugly incident resulting from the post-poll chaos, – but even then, only just.
Signs that things could turn ugly were evident as early as last October when talk was rife that some area politicians were keen on igniting violence either to displace some voters or generally shift the electoral agenda to who among the contestants could best shepherd the locals against insecurity.
Until then, insecurity in the area had almost always been an issue of occasional small-time theft and the periodic livestock raids from the neighboring Marakwet and West Pokot districts, all of which had been no major cause for worry compared to other constituencies in wider Trans-Nzoia.
As the campaigns heated up, however, there was increased concern over insecurity bred in Cherang’any itself, especially as local communities began to coalesce around their tribes ahead of the polls.
Suddenly, there was a proliferation of “council of elders” meetings on the part of all the major tribes residing there, all scheming and plotting on how best to capture civic seats as well as the top seat in Cherang’any constituency.
Money changed hands, with elders being bought across ethnic and party lines day and night.
Sources suggest at least four aspirants spent well over Kshs. 100,000 trying to woo the elders either way on any given day.
An aspirant, who lost, reportedly spent Kshs. 30,000,000 on the whole of his campaign, a large part of which comprised playing councils of elders against each other depending on how the waves were faring on a given day.
Complications arose when some areas became no-go zones for campaigns; aspirants were begging to zone off portions of Cherang’any, with deadly consequences.
One parliamentary aspirant and his entourage were beaten when they campaigned in Sitatunga ward (incidentally his own home area), as some red flags began waving.
No ugly incident, however, was reported when ODM’s Joshua Kuttuny clinched victory against a crowded field.
Trouble, however, came about when PNU’s Mwai Kibaki was declared victor in the presidential poll and sworn in.
Cherang’any’s dark nights were flaming constantly, as maize fields, granaries and houses went up in flames.
Cherang’any has known no peace since then, as its residents – particularly those in the hilly areas bordering Marakwet and West Pokot districts – continue to cry.
One of the most definitive scenarios in the crisis has been the daily attacks in Sinyerere, Makutano, Suwerwa / Kachibora and such other wards of the constituency.
In Sinyerere, for instance, several well-armed attackers have been visiting in broad daylight, robbing, raping and maiming without fear and hurry; the provincial administration’s response has left much to be desired, both in timing and strength.
Sinyerere ward, as is indeed much of wider Cherang’any, is mixed in ethnicity – it therefore may be safely suggested that the insecurity in the area is no longer such as can be characterized as ethically targeted.
Responding to the security situation in the constituency therefore presents a daily change to everyone concerned, not least of all, Kuttuny, the new legislator.
He has to assuage the fears of some residents that they have more to fear under his tenure than they did before December 27th, 2007.
There will also be need for representatives of neighboring constituencies to be seen to be reining in livestock rustlers from their constituencies who, it would appear, are cashing in on the post-poll chaos and fears in the context of a largely out-numbered and strained police force.
There is need, too, for the provincial administration to be more pro-active in the area.
In the end, there will also be the need to clear once and for all just who won the 2007 presidential polls, as this is an issue still much passionately debated in this now fragile area.
In the meanwhile, a terrible hunger is already biting in one of the country’s bread-baskets.