In Summary
  • In the weeks since August 8, there have been a number of killings in Nairobi’s low-income neighbourhoods that have raised eyebrows, coming as they did seemingly out of nowhere.
  • There have been leaflets circulated in other parts of the country warning members of one tribe or another to vacate, to leave their businesses and to take their families with them.

A man was allegedly beaten to death for wearing an Orange Democratic Movement T-shirt, which identified him as a supporter of the National Super Alliance and its leader, Raila Odinga.

The now viral video is undated and nobody has so far confirmed that they shot it, so it is missing  the all-important context critical to understanding how something like that could have happened.

It is claimed to have taken place during last Friday’s protests after police blocked supporters from receiving Odinga at the airport, even though they allowed crowds in for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s return from The Hague in October 2014.

If we’ve descended to murderous rage because of our political differences, then we’ve probably gone much further than we realise, and everyone who is not interested in a full-blown war should be concerned.

In the weeks since August 8, there have been a number of killings in Nairobi’s low-income neighbourhoods that have raised eyebrows, coming as they did seemingly out of nowhere.

There have been leaflets circulated in other parts of the country warning members of one tribe or another to vacate, to leave their businesses and to take their families with them.

Some elected leaders on both sides are openly inciting members of their communities against those they consider their opponents and nobody in authority has flagged this as dangerous.

“We are driving this country to hell,” said Odinga repeatedly on Sunday.

“Leaders must act responsibly and stop incitement.” Some of those leaders who have been inciting their followers stood next to him, nodding as if that warning didn’t apply to them.

If the country goes to hell, it will burn for Jubilee and Nasa supporters equally. It won’t matter whether  you voted for Uhuru or Raila or didn’t vote at all.

Whether you are part of the Opposition’s supposed militia force or fully behind the ruling party’s ethnic cleansing brigade, the day of reckoning is coming.

Last week, I went back to the Kigali Genocide Memorial where more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda are buried.

A part of the history of the 1994 killings jumped at me this time even though I had done the same tour seven years ago.

It is about “The Hutu 10 Commandments” published four years before the massacre in the Hutu Power newspaper called Kangura.

The rules reminded me of a narrative that is gaining traction in Kenya and I have been personally affected by.

WARNING

A fortnight ago, a friend wanted me to translate a Facebook post in Dholuo for them. It turned out it had been posted on my page and warned me against marrying a Kikuyu girl after what had happened to the pilot of the chopper that crashed in Nakuru and rugby player Mike Okombe.

The hundreds of comments below it all urged me to take the two cases as a cautionary tale and not marry outside the community. Many supporters of Nasa’s Resist campaign have added “resisting Njeri” as one of the tenets and it is almost dismissed as a joke.

The first of the Hutu commandments outlawed relations with Tutsi women and we all know how that ended.

“Every Hutu should know that a Tutsi woman, whoever she is, works for the interest of her Tutsi ethnic group. As a result, we shall consider a traitor any Hutu who marries a Tutsi woman, befriends a Tutsi woman, or employs a Tutsi woman as a secretary or concubine,” it admonished.

Last week, a man who looks perfectly well adjusted in his profile picture inboxed the same Facebook page to insult me for comparing President Kenyatta to “an uncircumcised buffoon” in reference to Raila and declared that I, too, was “an uncircumcised kihii”.

I don’t know how he knows such intimate information or why he cares about what’s below the belt of other men but it is another popular school of thought.

Those who don’t agree with Nasa or don’t like any facts that cast Jubilee in poor light often refer to the minor surgery as qualification for being a man.

It has been popularised more recently by a Central Kenya MP seen within the community as a “defender of the kingdom” and I have told him how inflammatory his comments are.

Nearly 1 million people were killed in just 100 days after extremists weaponised minor tribal differences between the Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda.

It’s all fun and games until the Luo and Kikuyu start butchering each other about who is circumcised or who should be resisted and which political party they support.

What was once just a remote possibility is now a real fear, if recent events are anything to go by.

When The Night of Long Knives arrives and there is blood flowing down the streets, it won’t matter who said what because it will be too late to prosecute hate speech or to give empty platitudes. Be afraid.

 

Is he right? Send your comments to Larry Madowo at lmadowo@ke.nationmedia.com

 

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MUGABE FINALLY TOSSES IN THE TOWEL

Robert Mugabe’s greatest achievement at this point is not being dead. The man is approximately 3,000 years old and can still read a long, rambling speech with only a few errors. His Sunday night performance in front of the whole world was one for the history books, especially because he was expected to resign but did no such thing. Hours after ZANU-PF removed him as its party leader and expelled his wife, Grace, he talked about moving forward, agriculture and presiding over an upcoming party congress.

All the international news networks carried the entire speech live, expecting that he would announce his resignation at some point but he clearly wasn’t intent on leaving just yet. In any case, he has been presidenting for 37 years and he has evidently learnt a thing or two when he wasn’t sleeping through official occasions. He was surrounded by fat military seniors and that was the confirmation for a lot of people that they were, indeed, in charget.

 “You have to remember that Gushungo’s mother lived to be 104,” a friend told me months ago.  But history caught up with him yesterday and Gashungo finally threw in the towel.

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PRESIDENT KENYATTA MEETS MOI

On Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta “paid a courtesy call” on retired President Daniel arap Moi. They had lunch at the former president’s Kabarak home in Nakuru, according to a statement.

We weren’t given any more context, apart from a picture Baringo Senator Gideon Moi later shared. He was standing on the steps of the house in conversation with his father’s political mentee. People read a lot in the images, considering the timing and the existing political environment.

The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, perhaps captured what many might have been thinking. “With Kenya’s Supreme Court about to rule on legitimacy of recent controversial election, and as violence threatens, why would Kenyatta choose now to visit his autocratic predecessor?” he asked on Twitter.

Maybe the president just happened to be in Nakuru and wanted to drop in on one of the only two living people who have had his job. Or maybe not, who knows?