Your Eyewitness was always fascinated by Kenya. No…not just about Elsa – that orphaned lion cub raised by that couple and then set free into the wild, and whose story was told in the hit movie “Born Free” – but by its politics. While Nkrumah from Ghana might’ve gotten the spotlight because he secured independence for his country in 1957 – the first in Africa – let’s not forget that Jomo Kenyatta had also returned from Britain, but had been jailed for what the Brits called the “Mau Mau” Rebellion.
That rebellion was brutally put down by the Brits, who incarcerated thousands like Kenyatta. Recently, some survivors secured reparative justice. In Guyana, Jagan and Burnham followed the struggle in Africa very closely – especially in the British colonies like Kenya and Ghana. Kenyatta was from the Kikuyu tribe, but yet some of his tribesmen – dubbed “loyal Kikuyus” – betrayed the nationalist cause. Rather notoriously, when Burnham split our nationalist movement to support the British aims, he and his cohorts were insulted as “loyal Kikuyus”!
What interested your Eyewitness about African politics was how closely Burnham followed their unfortunate descent into one-party dictatorship. Kenya became independent in 1963 with Kenyatta as President and Oginga Odinga from the Luo tribe as VP. After attending the 1970 Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Lusaka, Zambia, Burnham toured Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. In his 1974 “Declaration of Sophia”, he declared us a de facto one-party state through his doctrine of “paramountcy of the party” over the Government and through electoral rigging. Kenyatta had already made his KANU the paramount party in Kenya – effectively shutting out his opponent Odinga. Like our politics in Guyana, Kenyan politics is dominated by ethnic/tribal cleavages that precipitated a slew of constitutional changes.
And also like our politics, corruption and violence marred the beautiful Kenyan landscape, especially around elections – continuing after multi-party democracy returned in 1992. The Kenyatta and Odinga families continued dominating politics, and violence reached a zenith in 2007 – which, as usual, had been massively manipulated. More than 1100 lives were lost in inter-tribal violence. Massive changes to the Constitution were proposed, and by 2010, the new “power sharing” Constitution was approved in a referendum.
Kenya will now have its third elections under the reformed Constitution, on August 9, and to your Eyewitness, might suggest whether some of its innovations offer some hints towards resolving OUR dilemmas. After languishing in the Opposition ranks – and in jail – Raila Odinga, the son of Oginga Odinga, is vying to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta – son of Jomo. Uhuru surprisingly made peace with Raila in 2018, effectively undercutting his VP William Ruto, who’s now Odinga’s rival in the hustings.
And, once again, there’s a push for new constitutional change. The more things change…
In the Bible, we’re told about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – the first, riding a white horse, who brings pestilence; the second, on a red horse, is the creator of war, conflict and strife; the third, a food-merchant riding a black horse and symbolising famine; while the last is pale and accompanied by the god of death. Well, here we are in 2022, and we’re still in the throes of the pestilence on the White Horse of COVID-19 since 2020, and now hit by another – Monkey Pox.
The war in Ukraine’s been going on since February, when Putin rode in on his Red Horse, and shows no sign of letting up, even as China’s responding quite agitatedly to Pelosi’s gambit by firing missiles near Taiwan!! And all across the world, there are food shortages which might just deteriorate into a full-blown famine in Africa.
So, are we to expect death?? Well 6.5 million have died from COVID, and Lord knows how many in Ukraine!!