Wrestling Over Bashir

As the Kenya media and (so-called) leaders continue to wrestle over “protocol,” they keep losing the plot.

For some, not inviting Bashir would have been un-African. Africans are hospitable. We invite all our neighbors to our parties. Even those who have killed and raped our wives. Good old African hospitality!

For others, not inviting Bashir would have spelled doom for regional and African cooperation. After all, we all know the wonderful work that the AU has undertaken to protect citizens of its host countries and enhance regional peace. Especially in its multiple sessions: “How to Rule as a Dictator”; “How to Praise Dictatorship”; “How to Crush Citizens”; “How To Claim Every Critique Based On Human Rights Claims Is An Imperialist Plot That Africans Will Always Resist!!!!”

Good on you, AU! Way to go!

For yet others, Kenya’s wrongdoing is justified because, and this is fantastic, even the U.S. does NOT follow rules! EVEN THE U.S.!


Dear Kenya: if Rwanda chose to jump over a bridge.

PEV? But that really wasn’t “ethnic cleansing!” The nice reports said so!

Our second republic begins its inglorious life echoing the Shaggy Refrain: It Wasn’t Me! Because, ultimately, Kenyans are never culpable. And, I’m sure if we wait, we will discover that the devil made us do it.

Remember? We had a presidential commission on Devil Worship? At the height of Moi’s repression? And we were alarmed to discover that all our troubles stemmed from shetani and his earthly minions. Nothing to do with a repressive dictator. Nothing at all!

We baki nyuma
Tunaenda na Moi!

Ahh, the good old days!

And we who continue to protest are told that we have forgotten what it means to be African; we don’t understand diplomatic protocols; what we think happened really didn’t happen even as the evidence mounts that it happened; we should keep quiet because it is all a big distraction and the work of nation building cannot happen when we are distracted.

Note: Kenyatta liked to call democratic dissent and intellectual intervention a “distraction.”

I’m a simple fellow. I don’t know much or anything about diplomatic protocol, AU secret co-dictator sessions, African customs, or the five secret handshakes of powerful men.

Here is what I know.

On the day the constitution was promulgated, Kenyan citizens protested Bashir’s presence in the country. Those citizens were set upon (the cliché must be used) by too-familiar repressive police forces, brutalized, and imprisoned.

On the very day the will of the people ostensibly came into power, the will of the people was violated. Their voices silenced. Their bodies brutalized. Kenyan citizens in whose name the constitution was supposedly promulgated were told they did not count.

With the exception of a few bloggers and activists, the indefatigable Philo Ikonya, Shailja Patel, and Wambui Mwangi, this narrative has been buried by a press and political leadership that continues to prove it cannot speak in the name of the people or for the people it claims to represent.

3 thoughts on “Wrestling Over Bashir

  1. did i hear gava say oops. Wetangula himself said in parliament the goverment is aware of Bashirs indictment.I mean we seem to forget,the goverment is divided in to three.executive,judiciary and legislative.personally i wouldnt blame the executive or wetangula,legislative. Protocal would deserve that he defends his goverment no matter what. The biggest cullprit is one who is already banned from even visiting europe or usa , our ever smiling Amos Wako. He is mandated to advise the goverment on all legal matters. well incompetence doesnt even justify this excuse of a human being.

  2. Alex, that is very interesting. And it’s very good, very good, to hear that the government finally acknowledge that it’s aware of something. And even aware of the wrongness of doing something. As for Wako, words fail me. When he was appointed we had such high hopes.

    I continue to think, though, that he needs to be read symptomatically, not simply as a failed official, but as an official whose failures are systemic: Wako represents the rot of a terrible system. It’s not enough to get rid of him. This would be, to use Ngugi’s words, getting rid of Moi and retaining Moi-ism, which is what we did in 2002. The deeper rot needs to be cleaned out. Not quite sure what that will take.

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