Ocampo’s Omissions

Omissions are not accidents.
–Marianne Moore

It is difficult to overlook the certainty with which many politicians and their supporters claim that ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo omitted names from his list of six. Anyone who read the now “disappeared” Waki Report knows the challenges Waki and his team faced in getting witnesses to testify, a difficulty that remains unacknowledged by the report’s critics. The report was “filled with omissions.”

Since 2008, we have been complaining about “omissions” with a lot of certainty, too much. As though we know. We know shadowy powerful people were behind the violence. We know they remain protected and unnamed. We know they do not value Kenyan lives. And we live with this knowledge.

What does it mean that we live with this knowledge? What does it mean that we know and have chosen not to act?

How has this knowing been created? Who knows? How do they know? What are they doing with that knowledge?

We are complicit in Ocampo’s omissions. If we know and choose not to volunteer that information, then we have failed, not Ocampo. Ocampo’s omissions need to be attributed to our choices.

The political class—a designation I dislike but find appropriate—have chosen to close ranks. Ocampo, they all proclaim, politicized the process. He refused to remain impartial. Kill the messenger. But the complaint is so very tired. Waki politicized the process. Philip Alston politicized the process.

Against the “imperialistic interference” of the ICC, Kenya will stand.

We know, but do not want to tell.

There are pacts within pacts, allegiances and attachments that mean more, much more, than the killed and the displaced. We know this. We know that over 1,000 dead are simply numbers. And even if they had names, they would still be meaningless abstractions. Those who must be protected must be protected.

How do we get those who claim to know to tell what they know? Wouldn’t it be great if we could compel all of those now claiming to know to tell? Wouldn’t it be great if our political class stopped thinking of themselves and actually thought of Kenya, of the people they claim to represent, of presents and futures beyond their own?

Simply, Ocampo’s omissions have been politicized, but not by him.

Politicians stick together. That’s what they do. It’s why Cheney will never be prosecuted and why Biwott, despite many rumors, has had an unnaturally long and successful socio-political life.
And so I turn to the question we have been asking since at least 2003, when Kibaki took office. How do we create a political space—that is a space for deliberate, chosen action—for Kenyans? Not for the political class, but for Kenyans. What strategies must we create, what forms of coalition and attachment must we break, to ensure that Kenyans are not simply victims of the political class?

As an aside, I love Ngugi’s works because they have addressed these questions most consistently—and one can see, even in The River Between, the shadowy arm of political leaders with too much power.

I am going to take a break from watching the coverage of this stuff. Watching the arrogance on display is more than I can handle right now.

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