Monday, February 20, 2012
This thought concurs with what I am about to briefly discuss, on the role of misplaced tribal peer pressure or the alternative voice of reason that has been a culprit of quite a number of ills as well in the Kenyan society at large and more specifically among the Kalenjin dialects, wherever they reside. With Election to be held in the course of the year (2012 or 2013), there is a dire need of change in tact, on who makes the tribal call. It necessitates that the tone of political discourse be managed and driven by the human rights precepts of inclusion of all beyond tribe. This can only be attained if at the helm the leadership is level-headed, rational, from the middle of the tribal class who cannot be bought nor sold for a thirty pieces of silver. The level headed independent class is critical in the guiding the process, and survival of a people that are in the midst of identity and leadership wilderness as we speak. However, some hope can aspired if the peer pressure within this class skews level headedness to a more sober direction.
There are a number of similarities between religious or ethnic peer pressure and peer pressure in general; the main difference is the driving force of the former is ethnicity or religion, while the later is often driven by environmental factors which can include religion and or ethnicity. It is fair to claim that either kind of pressure is driven by a constant denominator, the sense of belonging also referred to as the sense of acceptance or the sense of inclusion. For a peer this sense is very critical for it defines their sense of place in the context to time. Ones age mates are just as crucial as ones family of origin when defining ones norms and taboos in a snap shot in a given group. It is the cumulating of those snap shots over time that define or re-define the ethnic or cultural norms and taboos. This impact often is easily manifested in design, dress, lingual vocabulary, lingual accent, mannerisms and the likes. Could it be that the Kalenjin DNA is constituted to an irrational sense of self, thus often the resumes include ‘rants and raves of war and destruction of property’, when such an opportunity avails itself?
When a certain age group sag their pants, often it is a call not thought through in totality, for it arises from an unspoken decree from one’s peers. For most of us who do not belong to that age bracket or grew up in a different geographical setting, we often get uptight and wonder what went wrong with the generation in question. I am reminded of this young American gal who had just graduated from high school, declining a job offer simply because one of the requirement; her work environment required her not to wear makeup. To her, presentation among her peers was more important than a 400 dollar weekly paycheck. Yes! Such are the snap shots of a given group in time.
Observations are also made of peer behaviors that are dictates of certain religious views. During the wee moments of the Bush II presidency while visiting Iraq, one of the journalists threw a shoe at him. Based on both Jewish and Islamic belief that was of the most demeaning act towards a person he passionately hated. For the shoe represented not only being the least pampered of one’s attire, but it is as well a medium believed to accumulates all kinds of dirt and impurities. For other cultures, spitting at, or flashing the middle finger would be a similar way to register a despicable hate or dislike towards another person. Ever wondered why to some groups, males do not shave their facial hair? Or, why they do not allow their long pants to touch the shoe (this is common practice among the Muslim sect)? I would think it is because of such religious and ethnic peer dictates.
Back to the question, why peer pressure has effectively made the Kalenjin sub-tribes to have the right to maim, kill and displace other human beings who just like themselves are trying to make their ends meet? Could Karua’s view hold a recipe that will stop this archaic and hideous practice? Kenyans especially Kalenjins have been crying foul over land allocation in post independence for now nearly a half a century. Even while a Kalenjin was at the helm of country’s leadership for nearly two and a half decades, their own leader used land as a political carrot or enticer and had absolutely no moral desire to resolve the so called “land injustice”. Based on Karua’s view the middle class were absent then and may be still absent now, in holding the political class to account. How come it is only during a candidacy of Kalenjin that we think will resolve our concerns? Can we learn from our recent past? We can have another quarter a century residency at State house, yet as long as we do not have a body of citizens who are patriotic enough to fight for fairness across the board and hold our institutions to account, the songs name will change but the meaning will remain constant.
It is common knowledge that with the current crop of leaders among the Kalenjin there is NO room for any logical discourse. They have infused their constituents with so much drunken hype and rants similar to those who are possessed by the spirit of Pentecostal. The spirit has the possessed the community to speak only in tongues understood only by the deranged. I am suggesting that the opiate has to be managed for tongue speaking fiasco to recluse. The call to change is long overdue. The speech spoken should be two way, not Odinga way only. The ones that can speak such a language are those that have no desire for elected office but the establishment of systems that have integrity in sorting out the wheat from the chuff. It is this category of non-politician middle class that need to call the house in order, with a collective Rushwa! Pepo ishindwe! In exorcising the demon! - Off course the politician gone rogue.
Lessons from Our Recent Past on Poor Leadership
Fortunately Gen. Koech of UDM came out as that voice of reason, talking for the middle class. For likes of WS Ruto should not be party owners, but the people. Reading the dailies Gen. Koech of UDM began a discourse that can enhance holding the so called political leaders to account. As a matter of fact politician have to be vetted; if they lack reference(s) from their previous employer(s) or political affiliations, then any party is justified to kick out such a leader for lack of integrity or not meeting the desired job qualification. If there is a time when the Kalenjin people should stand up and defend their destiny from marauding political gangsters it is now.
People in Mt. Elgon did not vote in 2007, the process was outright rigged for the incumbent by the SLDF powers that were. Yes! This coming election should be democratic. For as much as Unity government is weak, they constructed the first tarmac road in Mt. Elgon. What did Moi do? NDP brought electricity. What did Moi provide? There is very or no hope in tribe, but cooperation among the visionary like-minded.
In 2007 Nandi’s in Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties were held hostage by politicians who do not want to accept their role in the post election violence. The Nandi’s in the villages know that word went around that every family had to provide their sons for operations, many of which were fatal. The saddest incident happened in Mois Bridge centre where this recruits from ziwa expanse tried to attack the Kikuyu community that was armed with guns, using bows and arrows. Unfortunately quite a few did not make it.
While driving up and down between Ziwa and Eldoret, the boys manning the roads blocks would freely volunteer such information from the command centers on what needed to be accomplished, of what was to happen later. The process was based on language, the mistake of omission was that there are many no-Kalenjins who are fluent in Kalenjin, just as there were many Kalenjins youngsters who were caught between a rock and a hard place for not knowing to speak their mother tongue. Every Kalenjin knows that PEV was not traditionally planned as per se, but when the opportunity provided itself, the events that followed we organized by our very leaders. We can run but we wont hide.
The people who would have saved our investments in Eldoret are the middle class or the majority of our peers, who would have publicly distanced the community from the power, intoxicated political class then. But I am reminded to think about now, has anything changed? Maybe we learned a few lessons, such as: because of the events of 2007 Eldoret and Kericho especially lost a big chunk of investors. Simply because those very Kisiis and Kikuyus we heartlessly drove away, are the ultimate home grown business class with the heart to invest. In fact we became a blessing to surrounding cities such as Nakuru and Naivasha who welcomed those that we unceremoniously and illegally ejected. The bottom line is that Kalenjin community lost big time!
The people who would have saved our investments in Eldoret are the middle class or the majority of our peers, who would have publicly distanced the community from the power, intoxicated political class then. But I am reminded to think about now, has anything changed? Maybe we learned a few lessons, such as: because of the events of 2007 Eldoret and Kericho especially lost a big chunk of investors. Simply because those very Kisiis and Kikuyus we heartlessly drove away, are the ultimate, home grown business class with the heart to invest. In fact we became a blessing to surrounding cities such as Nakuru and Naivasha who welcomed those that we unceremoniously and illegally ejected.
Both our national and international good will, slipped away, into the doldrums. Some blind commoners thought that it was a plus to have Rennebeger mediating the most irrational and despicable acts that the political class had plunged the community into. During the height of this chaotic time the reference was not on non-Kalenjin leaders, but the Kalenjin ones, over and over again. They know themselves, those meetings, those resources, the directions given, some so primitive such as making arrows to from nails to protect the ethnic grouping against Kenya Air-force or the armed Mungiki? Yes! This was a true tale of the absence of an accountable system within the Kalenjin community.
The call was made by a prophetess from Mt. Kenya for the middle class peers to offer the alternative leadership or voice of reason which is - missing in this community – vetting and holding the fake leaders to account. She went ahead to describe the role of the middle class not necessarily wanting to be elected to office, but to provide the political parties with a genuine base of analyzing the resumes of those who have the intent to lead.
2012 or be it 2013 is beckoning, and still the gap exists. Ours is a society where the ego bloated politician leads the confused community to the slaughter house every election. If nothing was learnt or any regrets in place, it is just a matter of time and we will have newer version of 2007 or 1992 or 1997 human rights abuses all over again. The bottom line is the people will continue being helpless and poorer at their own peril, for there is a direct effect of ethnic pressure that makes many to bury their beaks for fear that the politicians of the day will punish you and your families, and relatives so severely if you open your voice. This is true because politicians in Kenya are the custodians of life and prosperity. Even with such ramifications let the middle class amongst these loose conglomerations called the Kalenjin, stand up and be counted as they become a mouth piece of the checks and balances. For not taking a risk is a long foregone option.
Let’s copy a faint line even so from the Political parties’ primaries here in the USA. There’s is a system where political party leadership vet all the candidates and as the process ensures all underdogs fall along the way side, irrespective of their eloquence, size of their bank account or height or skin color or size of their religious or ethnic following, or years of service; for if your resume does not cut it, you are cut out. It is a call to the Kenyan middle class and the Kalenjin middle class in particular; you and me, all the way from Eastern slopes of Mt. Ruwenzori in UG to the plains of Mara in TZ, to play a God given or Peer given role of helping the community in providing the much desired ‘alternative voice of reason’ for the good of the immediate posterity.
Let the next president be a Rendille or Duruma if he will allow us our human and democratic space to co-exist with all KENYANS, to vote freely, NOT to be boxed in Rift valley but encouraged to be citizens of the larger world, invest anywhere in the World including Othaya Nyeri, protect the water catchment zones, provide food security to all and , grow jobs in our counties, reduce crime, increase health access and implement and defend the new constitution to mention but a few of the items in my wish list.
Monday, March 9, 2009
When the rich and feasting and playing cards the poor on the other hand are watching and hoping that someone will remember them and drop a meal there way. This line explains what is going in Kenya at the moment. Hon. Ruto knowing that his political relevance was on the line, jumped quickly to using the tribal card. He is clinging and spinning so that he can re-define himself. At his lowest the other crafty and opportunistic politicians have seized an opportunity to meddle with what has been a solid ODM presence in the nation until when the Maize saga unveiled the curtain.
The reality on the ground – Poverty and Hunger are grinding
While all this is happening the poor countrymen on both sides of the valley are hoping that may be change will come their way. For the Kalenjin masses the focus is shifting quickly away from the issues; the poor performance in the just announced KCSE results, the high prices of fuel and availability of affordable fertilizers given that the rains are about to fall and off course on the table is the nightmare of every Kenyan - the increased cost of living.
For those on the other side of the valley, the fears are the same; insecurity and their wellbeing on the west rift tops the list, equally potent are those still languishing in IDP camps and the advent of an era of one peaceful nation under God.
While the lowly, the poor and the political incorrect are hoping and wishing some light at the end of the tunnel, the politicians are busy planning to dim that light. It is such a light that exposed the corrupt dealings that are evident that the politicians are a part.
The political math – how to stop a presidency of the people
It is this light that has brought forth a new founded camaraderie among members of parliament. They have to embrace one another so that they can siphon the coffers dry to sustain and maintain their status quo. There is a re-birth of a true coalition of those that think only of what they will individually benefit out of the any political marriage. Such pseudo- relationships are all over the political forum within and without Kenya yet this one stand out. Whose main agenda is- who can continue to protect us come 2012?
Political Mathematical genius looked at Uhurus data, and they could statistically predict him being a presidency come 2012 that can protect the status quo. Uhurus significant statistical errors make him a perfect fit to protect the many members of August house who do not want to leave the high places. Uhurus profile has it all from His dad to the dealing that he had with MOI. After all Uhurus wealth is tied to everything that his dad – the 1st head of state – grabbed/looted from the Kenyan people. Those surrounding his as well most of them in one way or another benefited from both Kenyatta and Moi presidencies and who in essence see doom if a presidency of the people ever finds place in Kenya. With the likes of Ndungu report and that recommendations from the Anan report, many of the who is who in Kenya’s corrupt list are in a panic to re-direct the political destiny of the nation.
Wait a minute the mathematician exclaimed! Uhuru cannot deliver the Gema electorate with the likes of Muite, Saitoti, Kimunya and Karua hunting the same. The mathetician recommended that they pursue the weakest link in the other party. The ambitious Ruto seemed to be a perfect fit. He was at his lowest, comrades and business partners with Uhuru and after all has a lot to benefit from the marriage given his tainted past and the cases that keep on piling against him.
Play Moi card the mathematician recommended, by sweat talking the Kalenjin, diving the Luhya and damn the Luo. Once that marriage takes place and insurance policy is secured from the Akamba or from the Miji-Kenda.
The ramifications of the math
What a mathematical genius? The political marriage has several impacts.
· A very critical causality are the Luo ODMers for they will becomes a tribal skeleton and thus irrelevant and relegated to where they have always been.
· The wealthy 2% will continue to sub-due the masses and loot without shame
· The review of the constitution will fail, for the current ones will serve chosen few even better
· The gains of Anan will be lost, following all the other reports that are collecting dust
· Neighbors will continue to butcher one another very five years at minimum.
· It gives Mois a come back to the political scene where he can work hand in hand with his business partners – Ruto and Uhuru to reclaim the lost dream of 2002.
· An assurance of safe passage without pursuing Kibaki’s disgraceful strategy.
· Kalenjins and Kikuyus can go to the drawing table to hatch and slice Mau forest, and may be Mt. Elgon to resettle IDPS. After all it is only river Sondu that will dry.
· The Luhya loyalty will be divided more than it is now; some will remain in ODM while the starving lot will jump in the Uhurus boat.
The political math has it that Raila is not a good defender of the corrupt. He lacks the statistical errors that one needs to meet the criteria of a corrupt leader. The fraternity in the August house has been over heard to say - Even while seating in the bee hive, Tingas lips are free from the honey - which makes the scares the Hague out of the politicians. Tingas lack of visible unethical behavior that is uniquely Kenyan is bad for the country and the same credentials seem to apply to Ms Karua.
We are left to wonder whether the electorate will be fooled once more by the Nyayo philosophy, or may be compared to what will have transpired during Kibakis presidency, the electorate would prefer handouts for their right to vote to crown the marriage of one Ruto and one Uhuru. I rest my supposition and I will let you and time be judge.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Pheew! My hydraulic handkerchief went throwing the mucous out of my running nose against the southerly breeze with no success
The entire creamy mass landed partially on my cheeks and the rest found home on the jacket, yak!
With determination I continued to push and push the heap of snow, with my back begging and chest burning
In a moment I asked myself how and why in the whole wide world did I end up in Minnesota of all places.
The harder I pushed the faster the breeze blew my rather short nose and the colder and desperate I felt
All over in the neighborhood, snow blowers trotted as they so easily cleaned their driveways
Often, this was my opportunity to constructively work out, and inhale fresh air; this time around the opportunity was unpalatable and vengeful
Snow blowers in the hood got louder and closer yet no one even tried to fake to help these recent immigrant
Each shovel got heavier and heavier, the slip on several occasions and later a fall made it even more difficult
The harder I pushed the faster the more a begged that someone with one of the loud machines would help this desperate son from the equator
The thought ran through my the head that may be to spare my health I should visit sears to acquire my own machine
Another trend of thought was more consoling, acknowledging that I was half way done and winter will be done shortly
The beauty of white covering the tree branches gave me some reprieve and solace
Wait a minute! Just as I was nearly declaring victory, than the snow plow dumped a huge heap back onto my drive way
Oh no! The drive to push the fluff once more was punctured, but the task ahead of me was cut
Oh!! Snow, how we love sliding, sledging and skating over you, I did know that you take all that in count
On this fateful day, I seemed to have paid prices for all those who’d generated joy and fun out you the entire season
As I retired to the warmth of the house, mugongo was ngoo! While my ears were as dry as the hills of Karamoja
Minnesota even with your harsh winters, I still do know where all my adorations for you come from?
Yes! Minnesota’s winters can be truly harsh and brutal but in you we are seasonally reminded of our true place in nature.
By Figuhr Samedi Kania – January 2007
Monday, February 16, 2009
What is impairment in relation to competence in public service?
For one to be competent and deliver services without bias, they must be objective, fair and balanced in the decision making process. Public leaders are hired simply to make firm decisions that are objective, fair, and good for its stake holders. One of the elements required from a public leader to remain serving, is that they maintain objectivity in clearly separating his personal good from the publics.
What has transpired time and time again with the Kenyan governance system is a repeat of the same problem ; a blurry boundary between the personal and public good. When a leader goes forth to use his office to advance his personal good that is graft, others may also see it as immoral, unethical and wrong. Simply such an act is abuse of power, because such a leader stops to maintain a clear boundary between his personal welfare and the welfare of the public or the stake holders.
In the social contract of service, there is a legal caution for all public leaders not to use their offices to benefit themselves and those close to them at the expense of others (electrorate) . The fall out is that the leader has crossed the established boundaryand their reasoning at that juncture of such a leader is clearly impaired. The leaders perception is therefore blurred so much that you cannot distinguish between what is of personal gain from public good and responsibility, of which you are suposed to represent objectively. Or, in other words, you do not have the good of the public at heart, but yours. This in itself nulls the Leaders contract between them and the public (electrorate) .
All public leaders in whatever caliber should be held to this same standard. When you hold a public office it is required that you don't give any special of favors (tenders) to associates (companies) that are in one way or another linked to you. Because by doing so clearly indicates impaired judgment. A decision maker or Leader whose judgment is impaired cannot effectively serve the public with impartiality as required by the commitment such a public office. It is imparative thus for a leader who continues to serve, they be able to serve all without impartiality.
The track record of the Minister vis-a-vis the maize scandal
Back to my question, is the Judgment of the Minister of Agriculture Impaired? To answer the question lets fairly look at it. First, is he a ? Yes is the answer. He is held by the social contract for serving and fostering the public good without impartiality. With reference to his oath of office. Is the decision he made with regard to controversial sale of maize from the national reserves objective? No. Based on the following reasons
1. One of the firms involved in arranging the transactions was Africa Merchant Assurance Company (Amaco), where the Agriculture minister held shares. Mr Ruto confirmed that he was part-owner of Amaco. http://www.nation. co.ke/News/ -/1056/524670/ -/u1v9u3/ -/index.html
2. Mr Ruto had only sacked junior officers at the State agency responsible for the cereals reserves - the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) - while leaving the managing director, marketing manager and other senior officials in place. http://www.nation. co.ke/News/ -/1056/524670/ -/u1v9u3/ -/index.html
Is this the only instance that the minister’s judgment has been impaired? No. The minister tendencies lean towards several claims of incompetency. This includes a court case that is pending with similar unethical behavior that was brought to question with the claim that he and others unlawfully acquired land in the infamous Karura Forest.
Does Minister have the public at Heart? The events that called upon this inquiry make it seem that his desire to serve, protect and defend the people of Kenya is not part of his agenda.
If a lowly parent found himself in the ministers shoes, everyone will be on his case. I equate him to a Dad who sold all his produce, colecting the monies and living the family behind begging while he went to coast to enjoy himself. Such a Dad would be labed if not branded as irresponsible and needs to be ejected sooner than later.
Should a leader with such a track record continue leading? Even when their judgment is impaired? I know the Kenyan people do not mind as long as the loot ended in their neighborhood, even by proxy, they won't mind keeping Him in office. From the common good is has vialoated his oath and more so his judgment is impaired a honarable thin for him to do is to step aside. Unless he is reading the same script with the imfamous Blago., the disgraced former Govenor of Illinois.
Plea from a common Mwanainchi
A personal brief for the Republics Minister of Agriculture. Please look into what is going more sincerely and ask yourself the following.
· What type of track record and legacy do you want to leave for your children?
· Why should we be hounding Kimunya, when your case seems to fall in the same paradigm?
· Do you love a Kenya that enforces double standards? If not, then as gentle man and as clean you claim to be, please step aside for investigation to take course, because then you will be vindicated.There may be new facts that will be added to this assertion; however the trend of affairs this far do not look good by any standard.
It may sound sarcastic but it is also hilarious and unfortunately true:
National Anthem according to politicians
Politicians of all persuasions
Strip this our land and nation.
Fortunes motivate us and keep us.
May we steal with impunity
Dodge taxes in unity;
Plenty be sourced within our dockets.
Let all politicians arise
With scams both wily and foolproof.
Eating be our earnest endeavor,
And our cake-stand of Kenya,
Heritage of plunder,
May we fight forever to perpetuate.
Let parties with one accord,
In common greed united,
Bankrupt our nation together,
May the agony of Kenya,
The fruit of our behavior,
Wazee na Wamama,
For your information may I register that most of us within the precincts of the Gotab Gaa forum are friends I fact good friends to Hon. Ruto and have a continued good will of the Kenyan nation at heart.
The central question still remains: Do we in as Kenyans/Kalenjins and friends of Kenya condone the conduct of the Minister of Agriculture (public leader) for using his office to benefits himself and his cronies at the expense of the common good? This question is a moral on in nature; it goes down deep into what are our values as a people. Remember, what is being put to test here are the fabric of who we are.
The answer to these central question if we will ever come to agree, then determines the parameters that these forum would employ to make claim of the acceptable from unacceptable conduct. Whether Ruto steps down is inconsequential, for he might be operating in a very different ethical paradigm, if my assertion is true then that is a paradigm that the common person needs to shun. And the damning of such can in a small way be done here in this forum. For those calling for Kiraitu inquiry i would presume that same guidelines should be followed a discussed below .
Process to resolving the dilemma
So that the issue can be put to rest, There is a dire need within the Kenyan civil and governments systems a need for a systematic and a predictable way of conducting business.
With the matter at hand a I am giving a snippet of a suggestion that, first it is critical for the stake holders to separate the person from the problem. When one claims that there is a potential of being blinded, or being driven solely by the tribal card, such is a manifestation that there lack of clear boundaries on what is being examined. Important therefore is that we define the problem, for it then makes it easy for us to subscribe to some degree of objectivity and may be reason more fairly.
The question therefore is do we have a problem based on the conduct of the Minister? Based on the news articles it has been reported that the Minister of Agriculture used his office to benefits himself and his close associates. Across the debate there seems to be a consensus thus far. Which affirms that there is sufficient amount of data to make claim that yes, we have problem?
The third step is to consult with the rules and regulations in place to guide us to resolve the problem. Several sources are available. The one that comes to mind is the oath office that the Minister took. The oath clearly mentions the dos expected from his public service. He took the oath of office which mandated him not to conduct himself otherwise. And the Laws of the land do agree with this view.
Fourth step is what is best practice when you a public leader goes against their oath? World over except Kenya, the best practice is, he step aside for investigations to be carried which will either exonerate him or otherwise.
Some have made claim that that the Minister is clean. Please share the criteria that you followed to arrive to that claim. The ramification of such a claim without a sound moral basis is in essence we are setting a terrible precedence. I call it terrible precedence because we will be creating a society where the mighty and wealth have a right to trample over the weak and poor. Which negates the very reason why we are advancing for a democratic society via through this forum?
All I can say is Wacheni fitina, porojo, uchochezi, uvumi na wivu!
Let us face facts. Some of your claims that we are being avenged by the Kikuyu are frivolous. This is how spin overtakes reason.
You want us to believe that Kalenjin leaders are saints they cannot steal? mmmmhhhh
Many of our own are languishing in jails for pre and post elections crimes, why not apply the same standards to them politicians?
You are also saying that the likes of Kibor, the formation of a investigative team and reports on the dailies are all but illusions?
The seed of enmity you are trying to plant is counterproductive and for the short sighted. today its the other tribe tomorrow twill be the other clan.
Quite an number of folks in this forum have Judeo-christian names; do you also use the Judeo-christian values to make you assertions?
Some of you even make claim to be Christians, why not call SIN by its name? Sorry may be you are double faced?
Think twice folks. Do not allow to create a storm out of a rumbling tummy; In Islam it is inferred that a thief has 39 days to.... but the 40th belongs to justice.
We have lived in artificial fear for long; while the likes of Ruto, Biwott, Moi et. al., and other spinners have many close Kikuyu business partners and associates.
It is just yesterday that we killed our neighbors, maimed the innocent in the name of fairness and democracy, Can't we learn from our past mistakes?
The graves are still visible, scars and memories still linger, refugees camps are still out there, why do we want to tread down this road again?
How irrational, short sighted, and subjective can our community be? Or maybe we lack the ability to discern right from wrong?
Most of us living away from North Rift; are sojourners yet the natives continue to treat as friends, and share thier resources with us. Can't we see if we cannot think?
Wacheni fitina, porojo, uchochezi, uvumi na wivu wenzangu wakalee and be human for once
Let us face facts. Some of your claims that we are being avenged are frivolous. This is how spin overtakes reason. That we end up hurting the innocent.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
It was a typical evening and all of us had assembled at Elgon view residence after running a few errands in Eldoret town. I had particularly run late that evening while trying to fix the aging Peugeot 505. As a result I could not deliver the used oil to the Tanning farm as the helpers there had requested.
Picture 1- Elgon View Residence, Eldoret – KXX in view
I am told that by applying used oil on the wooden fencing posts, the oil prevents the posts from being eaten by termites or absorb moisture from rain, thus given them some longevity.
When I realized that dinner was going to take much longer and the sun was still up, I asked my young brother, Lattimer and Niece, Linda if they could join me to the farm. This is roughly about 10 kilometers away, to drop off the used oil. The two agreed to join me and off we went.
The younger ones wanted to join, but I insisted that since they had not showered, that they do so in readiness for early retirement for the night. Melanchthon and Baraka bought in and gladly ran to the gate to let the car out of the property.
Off went North-west bound on dusty and bumpy old Nairobi road. As soon as we were west bound on the Nairobi Road, while driving slowly, just past the Moi university campus while the road took a curve of some sort, on our right hand stood a 16 wheeler semi - trailer whose occupants were busy trying to change a flat tire. I saw one gentle man close to the road, but it did not cross my mind that there was a safety concern.
Picture 2 - the 18 wheeler Semi Trailer
No sooner did we arrive at the farm, than it started getting dark. We met the Chesubei’s with whom we had a conversation. Given that the general elections were underway in a few days and their nephew, Kawon and a neighbor as well was vying for a contentious parliamentary seat in Mt. Elgon.
We then made our delivery and excused ourselves to leave because the car we were was anyways unreliable. There had been several occasions that it would cease starting, that we embarked to our primitive mechanical skills of survival. This was a reflection of the trial and error artisans, who claim to do the opposite. Often times that not they made the cars they worked on worse than they arrived in the name of repair.
On our back, west bound on Nairobi road towards Eldoret, while driving at around 45 kilometers an hour, and following another car at a short distance, all of sudden I was awaken to a rude shock. The car that I was closely following suddenly swerved to the right. Not knowing what was happening, given that I was travelling at a slow speed I presumed that I had a good handle of the situation.
What I did not realize is that the car in front of me had barely avoided a tire belonging to the semi which had been laid on the road as a life saver. Because the semi truck had been parked on the left hand side onto the road, as a safety net for the turn boy who was trying to fix change the tire.
What this crew did not realize is the fact that the tar is black, the tire is black too and the roads are not lit. The only way one could see the object that was laying on the road was by touching, or hitting it. That is exactly what happened to me.
Picture 3 - the wheel/tire that was on the road
While the car in front of mine was struggling to regain control and come back to the left side, on the opposite direction there were lights of an oncoming car that was fast approaching.
By the time I realized that the object was right in front of my left wheel, I had hit the object and lost control. The car veered towards the right, while the oncoming car was right on.
Picture 4 - the oncoming car that my trunk collided with
While trying to regain the control of the car, the survival instincts kicked in on being struck by the lights of the oncoming car. I knew that all was gone, out of desperation as I tried to turn the car back towards that left lane. It was then that the trunk of the car I was driving was hit so hard by the oncoming car that the car, that we took a 90 degree turn, heading directly towards the side of the Semi.
Picture 5 - The trunk that hit the oncoming car
All this happened in a fraction of a second. As I held the steering tight, the Peugeot with all that momentum it had accumulated from the spin, rammed into a wheel of the semi. Thank God we rammed into the wheel.
Luckily, for the crew (turn-boy) that was fixing the flat tire, they retreated under the semi; otherwise this surely would have not only have been my death bed, but a death bed for my brother, my niece and the turn boy. I do not remember the actual reaction on the turn boy, all I realized is that he escaped with his life into the young night.
As soon at the left hand side of the car had hit the wheel of the semi, than my car bounced back to the middle of the road.
Picture 6 - the deferential and wheel that I hit
With the shattered windshield falling in the middle of the road, it dawned to me that we had been involved in a terrible road accident, and, and I was still conscious and alive.
The Peugeot 505, KXX 210, was totaled and luckily all of us in the car came out alive. Not only alive, Praise God! But without any major injuries, Alas!
Picture 7 - The shuttered Peugeot 505 - KXX210
Lattimer who had hid under the dash board and whose side had the greatest impact had sustained injures to his upper teeth, bleeding but fine. Linda on her part, who was seated on the back seat, was thrown all the way to the dash board on the passenger’s side of the car was laying over Lattimer.
Picture 8 - The impact of the rear axle on the passenger’s side
After a second or so of looking around and calling on both Linda and Lattimer, we hurriedly jumped out of the mangled car, to safety. Because the car was in the middle of this busy highway, it was unsafe to continue hibernating in there any way.
Picture 9 - KXX 210 was cherished car to my late - father in law
The first thing I did in my surreal state was to contact my cousin brother Joseph Kwalia, who has since passed on during the post election violence. Joseph ran a taxi business in Eldoret town and I hoped that he will respond timely just in case one of us who needed immediate medical attention. After which I contacted a few other friends, my brother in law, Wilson Kiprono and my long time friend David Asige.
After a twenty or thirty minute wait, the first to arrive was Wilson who when I called him had to make a U-turn form a matatu he had boarded towards Ziwa. Jumped into another matatu and headed to Pioneer before getting a car from his sister in Law. After arrival it took another hour for the police to arrive, even after I had informed them immediately.
The Kenyan police strategy is not to save lives, but to document a case which then became an opportunity for them to solicit bribe from the party that is at fault or at times from both parties. All along, I had known this to be the case, yet it had never racked my nerves like it did on this fate full night.
As I started visualizing all the scenarios of what could have been had ours been fateful, God forbid! Whose life would have been saved in such an environment? The value of urgency, and promptness was Nil. A well planned response system ABSENT. Appropriate response and medical attention, in this part of the globe is HEARSAY to say the least.
A lot went on in my small head during the hour before the police stopped by. It is a scientific fact that if for one hour you were left bleeding profusely, that would be enough to send you to you deathbed.
As a first responder at work, I had done all that was necessary to protect lives of fellow employees who were in need. Yet amongst my own countrymen, I thought, when I needed help the most, no one was there, not even the government we so fervently support with foreign exchange monies when we wire the dollar to the motherland.
The question that I am yet to answer is who are you fellow countrymen? Or rather, which country should you be proud of, one that cares for you even when you are an alien, or one that offers lips service even when you are in need of your national and also a tax payers right?
These among other post election events made me re-think about my nationality and not squander the opportunity that the United States of America continues to provide to me and my children. Torn between the roots and the present realities, this became a defining moment of separating dreams from actual facts and possibilities.
The dream was and has always been to give Neema and Baraka a share of my roots. Hoped to do so by living in Kenya for some time so that they could be fluent in Swahili and get to know their relatives and the indigenous culture. The lesson here was yes their heritage was important, but the value of human life was even more important. More so, matters of security and attaining the standard of living that these young Minnesotans are used to, was going to be quite elusive in an environment that I found myself that night.
As we arrived at our residence, looking at the children with whom we did not only share a room but slept on the same mattress and different sleeping bags together; my mind ran to think how the children soundly slept, not knowing what had transpired, that in fact they would waked the following morning only to be told that the Kenyan roads had robbed them of their dad. How sad.
Picture 10 - Mr. Baraka in his Winnie the pooh sleeping bag
This made me angry especially when I thought about the laxity and carelessness that has entrenched that enforcement of traffic rules and regulations on Kenyan roads.
The list of persons whose lives were lost from this pandemic is endless. Cross sections of all Kenyans have been impacted negatively, by this horrible state of affairs. This sad past includes my distant uncle Eng. Kapsondoi who died from a road accident at a prime age shortly after completing his PHD in the USA in the mid 80’s.
After our anxiety had come down did inquire and got to know the fate of the car that had hit initially. On impact to the trunk or boot of the car that I was driving, the other car became air bound. The car flew over a depression on the road side a distance over 70 meters. It then landed on the bushes on the south side of the road, hitting the fence which turned its front to face the road.
The driver of this car as I later learnt was headed to the same locale I had come just from. He was a don at the local university and in fact a neighbor at the farm. The most elevating experience of the night was that Kiplagat as well came out his car without any injury. How the car had missed an electric post, flown over a valley, landed and turned to face where it had come from, was a wonder to us all.
Picture 11- the other car being inspected
When we inspected the semi, there were several older ladies who were so shaken as a result of what happened. The confessed that they weren’t the owners of the truck and that the turn boy on surviving the incident had run in the bushes.
On arrival of the police and the tow trucks, they took their reports and marked the area. After which, we dusted our pants and called it another a gracious moment planted in our lives for reflection and were very thankful to the good Lord as we headed to the police station. It was around 11:30 PM when we left the police station.