Archive | March, 2011

A NOTE FROM LIBERIA TO KENYA: TRIBALISM AND THE DEATH OF NATIONALISM IN KENYA:

19 Mar

BY: JAVAS BIGAMBO
In Liberia, I have witnessed the ruins of a nation. By the evidence of my eyes here in Monrovia, and the discourse of civil war and poverty in Africa, the history of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, DRC and the present day Somalia, it is more evident than ever that indeed Africa has killed her sun. I speak of war and poverty because poverty was there before I was born and it has become part of life like the blood through human veins. Penury is not going empty for a single day and getting something to eat the day that follows. It is going empty with no hope for a morsel of food. It is getting nobody to feel your twinge and when your dreams get contorted in a sea of ethereal yearnings. Poverty is the war of African life. It is in fact poverty that sustains the tribal agenda in Kenya today. Sitting here in my hotel room in Monrovia, as my good Prof. Amadu Sesay would put it; I have the advantage of standing outside and looking inside, into the Kenya scenery. It is a pity when rich Kenyan leaders exploit the poverty of the masses by dangling the carrots of hope and manipulating them at whim.
The history of Liberia has taught me that people always chant when they go to out to fight, not when they come back. This is because in most cases, they return to graveyards and the pregnant silence to appreciate the loss. True. Much as the causal root of the Liberian crisis varies with the Kenyan realities just like Persia and Sparta, the consequences are scarcely apart. The PEV in Kenya painted a blurred picture of how ugly it could easily turn. Samuel Doe of Liberia, Prince Johnson of Liberia ( a former rebel leader now a Senator), Charles Taylor and all the leaders of dark moments in Liberia are not far from the Ocampo six and former Kenyan dictators. Money is sharper than a sword, and all of them are known to have used it for expediency’s sake.
The ICC situation in Kenya is making mortals from all counties to sing to the drumbeats of war. Leaders from Rift Valley and central province are promising a scene after the 2012 elections, and their emotional supporters are cheering them on. Recently I watched in pity as church leaders prayed for the accused men who are faced with criminal charges at The Hague. The church prayed for them. At that point I failed to fathom the true calling of some church leaders. Will that exonerate them from the peccadilloes for which they potentially face trial? Is Kenya a lunatic asylum? How short are human memories? Must the ambitions of a few men plunge the nation in incessant political decay? No doubt about it, it’s tribalism that largely contributed to the PEV. I hold firmly that Kenyans must rise up to see that nationalism puts an end to tribalism or else tribalism will put an end to nationalism. I recall, excruciatingly, that a church went down in smoke as women children and men screamed in there, dying in agony as gangs celebrated their death. Those Kenyans died in the deepest depth of inhumanity. The malevolent gang was hired, paid handsomely to engage in ethnic cleansing. Those who paid the gang now are calling on church leaders to pray for them. People lost lives in their thousands, and now all we seek is justice. Justice does not kill respect. We as a country must stand in unity, and seek that which shall make us a better people. I have grown to appreciate that unity among cattle makes the lion lie down hungry. If we unite, in spite of ethnic variance, greedy manipulative politicians will have no idea to sell.
It is clear that now the ICC situation has changed the politics in Kenya. It is wise that when the music changes, so does the dance. The dance of justice is never short; it is never interesting at all. The success of the ICC situation will help to deal a knockout blow on tribal jingoism in Kenya. When will my fellow Kenyans realize that tribalism, from any angle, is a tragic affront to nationalism? The evidence of post-election violence is testimony enough that it is lesser patriotic of us when we engage in the tribal agenda. Nationalism, after all, has never been won anywhere on the frail back of tribalism. The tribal kills shall continue to rule if we don’t do this. It is Adam Smith who cried out in his epic writing The Wealth Of Nations that “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
It is instructive to note that the interests of tribal heroes in Kenya are meant to foster their self-preservation, and make other citizens stay off the coast of nationalism. What Kenyans are conveniently forgetting is that we can easily achieve more through entrenched nationalism. Of course I am not calling the forest that shelters me a jungle. I am putting it subtly that it can be a better forest than what it is if we promenade from the present posturing. Pray, how can we anticipate stability through continuity of the antiquated trends? President Kibaki cannot be the suitable umpire for Kenya’s political reconstruction. From the foregoing, he is much keen on succession politics than on national development. It is distressing to read platitudes of newspaper commentaries on statements of politicians, and that some of them think they are the saviors of the country. Why would a president and his advisers be sympathetic to political leaders who have lost the esteem of the majority of citizens? Why would leaders take to the agora and spew ignominious political profanities and still be condoned? I have long had a clairvoyant feeling that the top leadership in Kenya is not sincere about reform. Already by their current posturing they are undermining fundamental sections of the constitution that seek to make leadership sacred. The tragedy of Kenyans has been to confuse political motion with action. All our leaders cannot bite reform so I wonder why they are showing us their teeth.

The Struggle between Smoking and Nicotine Withdrawal Effects

9 Mar

By: Javas Bigambo
The social and medical sciences from the 19th through the 20th century hitherto have belabored the way out of quitting substance abuse, effects from which have left many in penurious psychological, emotional and physical states. Critics of cigarette smoking have described it as the most appealing suicide covenant for mankind. For many who are addicts, the urge for a cigarette puff is deeply-wired into the neurons. But tobacco has never been presumed a Trojan horse until when the withdrawal effects are witnessed of experienced. There is a latent thirst for more cigarette thanks to the alluring nicotine effect that keeps the addicts asking for more oblivious of the tragic heath status they are plunging themselves into.
Side Effects of Smoking
The elixir of cigarette smoking is a daunting task to shake off for those who smoke, especially after prolonged union with it, and the only exit avenue is sequestered in the sanctum of individual human will and commitment. Like every addictive substance, nicotine withdrawal effects become expressively manifest especially after one elects to quit abruptly. Such persons are known to trudge the unenviable states of quick temper, insomnia, mind fogs, reduced concentration, gain of weight, lousiness, jittery nerves and untold anxiety, as the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
The Allure of Smoking
There is no gainsaying of the fact that quitting cigarette smoking remains a hard task. For it antagonizes men and women, the latter encapsulated in double tragedy, especially when are expectant, as they seek restoration. But there is not known any single congenial universal script to quitting smoking. Just as the effects of cigarette smoking vary from a person to the other, so is the recovery process save for the general effects. To get to this end it takes more than waging a highly visible anti smoking campaign in the media and streets. It takes more than slapping a ban on public smoking and restricting corners at which the smoking adherents can quench their elusive thirst of nicotine obscurity. It takes a dynamic conscious approach that must remain multi faceted since the challenge of each cigarette smoker varies just as much as their numbers, each depending on their respective milieu.
Giving up the Puff
To avert adverse withdrawal effects, to some it is preferable to introduce electronic cigarettes spates of abstinence in hours to days depending on progress of the individual. Yet this still is still an encouragement to smoke. It needs psychological preparedness and, if needs be, the help and encouragement of a friend or colleague. It takes a sterner resolve beyond just throwing away the lighters and the last vestiges of cigarettes and ash trays in the house or office corner.
Happy Ending
In the end, the success of quitting cigarette smoking inspires, deeply motivates, and galvanizes those still in the recovery process. Such quitting should actually not be a gloomy affair, but a feisty engagement with the inner self, ever with renewed determination each single day. To quit smoking, after all, requires more of the heart than throwing away the cigarette.

THE PROMISE OF LIBERTY AND ITS PROTECTION: PERSPECTIVES ON KENYA’S AGE OF CONSTITUTIONAL RENEWAL

8 Mar

BY: JAVAS BIGAMBO
The republic of Kenya stands tall on the stage of constitutional renewal, having endorsed, overwhelmingly, a new constitution on August 4, 2010. That endorsement put Kenya on the threshold of possible constitutionalism, human rights protection, constitutional freedoms, and a spirit of pure renewal to people of all faiths, to scholars and villagers alike, as it spread the same across themes and principles. The constitution of Kenya 2010 heralds a new cosmopolitanism, after multiple generations braved odd untold and surmounted authoritarian regimes for more than six decades after independence. Beyond those struggles, Kenya remains rich in conflict, and sublime in history. The constitution holds the promise to reconcile human sameness and difference at a time when the latter has been exploited by few to create agitation, engineer horrors, all plunged in the dynamic vagaries of national politics, ethnic profiling and religious discord.
The legal rehabilitation of the conflict ethos through the prism of the new constitution is one challenging task that requires more of integrity and harmony than ethnicity and wealth. The political mastery and technical control of national politics in Kenya has for so long subdued the entire nation to the whims of a few who are deprived of morality, principle, collective sense and piety. It cannot be denied that the journey to attaining the new constitution was made “smoother” by the post-election violence in Kenya. Yet the wheels of impunity seem to be rolling still. It is Tom Mboya who argued that his understanding of socialism refers to the proved codes of conduct in the African societies which have, over ages, conferred dignity on the people, and afforded them security regardless of their station in life. There is no dignity whatsoever when a government expends colossal amounts from public coffers, to fund unnecessary travels by “special envoys” to lobby for deferral of the Kenya case at the ICC, when thousands upon thousands languish in untold misery, degradation and death in makeshift camps since the post-poll malaise. They remain in utter despondency when the perpetrators are hopeful for a deferral that shall allow them to pursue their “political careers”.
There is urgent need of nationalistic consciousness among the leaders and the governed. Such consciousness must be guided by clear organization and mobilization that will not only stand for the constitution but for mutual trust and respect among groups and individuals. Citizens must also spearhead their right not to be economically exploited to curb the warping and wafting of the society. The recent global financial crisis is evidence enough that an economy based on profits for a few lurches from crisis to crisis and is scarcely sustainable. These are lessons that then Kenyan market must borrow from. Cedric Mayson posits that the western world sees Africans as savages engaged in brutal wars or witchcraft, ravaged by ignorance, famine, corruption, poverty, and HIV/AIDS, or as subjects of exploiters, investors, academics, politicians, clergy, journalists, and film producers. As an African I can reject many things, but not the truth. That analysis of Africa is true. All those elements are present in Kenya today. That poly-culturalism must not qualify ethnic profiling to the disadvantage of whatever group. To divorce itself from these elements, Kenya must resolve to establish itself as a highly cosmopolitan liberal democracy and must redefine its polity. That it must extirpate and excoriate itself from all forms of ethnicity, violence and regionalism. From the reversal of recent constitutional nominations of chief justice, attorney general, director of budget and director of public prosecution, it is impressive that there is a heightening salience of the law and certain legalization of politics tout court is crucial for constitutionalism.
Challenges for the new constitution
There are a myriad of challenges on the path to fully implementing the new constitution. They are hinged on ethnic chauvinism, mass unemployment, poor educational standards, corruption, poverty, disease and poor national priorities in resource allocation. The Bill of Rights is a fine print, yet it shall not be easy at total implementation. The state is obliged to safeguard the Kenyans’ right to food and housing just as much as the right to life. It is inescapable that our democracy too shall be defined by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Deductively reasoning, I postulate that the HIV/AIDS epidemic undeniably refigures the discussion about the right to life. We can no less argue that the edifices of national government are founded on the power to sustain life on the principles of governance. The pandemic does not foster or grant life. It deprives it. This means that pursuant to the “right to life” maxim, any person dying of HIV/AIDS should have the right to sue the state for permitting death. Let me be clear. The state must do all that is humanly possible not only to eradicate HIV/AIDS, but to make sure that no one dies from it. Like conflict, disease must be frowned upon.
Other challenges include the very respect of the rule of law itself. The savageness of any people is based on the lack or respect for the accepted laws by those in authorities, who bend laws and postpone justice for selfish interests. County governments as an avenue to devolved governance shall be an interesting phenomenon, especially, guided by the fact that nearly all counties are demarcated on ethnic boundaries. If county governance shall take ethnic dimensions of political thought, Kenya shall have conjured up a giant force, a kind of force that shall organically vitiate the very conception of nationhood, the agora upon which the foundation of a state is established. The coveted nationhood should be the guidepost of national renewal. Tribal subjugation is entirely ordained and premised on the nefarious denial of national plurality on the table of democracy. The essence on renewal should be the freshness of thought socially, economically and politically through national polity, to enhance cohesiveness, liberty, progress and human understanding.