A dream doesn't become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

It's our turn to Eat !

The stink of corruption

Raymond Bonner applauds a hard-hitting and far-reaching study of bribery in Kenya
Raymond Bonner - The Guardian, Sat 14 Mar 2009 00.01 GMT

When tribal mayhem erupted in Kenya following last year's elections, most observers were stunned. Kenya was considered Africa's brighter spot. It held multi-party elections, had a solid economy, had never experienced a dictator like Idi Amin in next-door Uganda or descended into chaos like Somalia to the north. What, then, explained the madness of men with machetes and broken bottles slashing and pummelling men, women and children from other tribes? In a word, corruption.
When John Githongo was named anti-corruption tsar in 2002, by Kenya's new president Mwai Kibaki, the country was almost giddy with hope. Kibaki had promised to clean up corruption in a nation where the ordinary citizen paid around 16 bribes a month to the police or some government agency. Githongo was the perfect man for the job, and he attracted bright young idealists like himself to work with him. Government workers began inundating him with evidence of fraud and corruption.
There was enough low-hanging rotten fruit to keep his office busy for years. But Githongo knew he had to take on his own tribe, the Kikuyu, if the "it is our turn to eat" mentality was to change. The first president after independence was a Kikuyu, Jomo Kenyatta, and the Kikuyu grew rich. After Kenyatta's death, anti-Kikuyu tribes joined forces and Daniel arap Moi became president. He was a Kalenjin. Kalenjin politicians bought Mercedes, their wives shopped abroad. The Kikuyu, desperate to get to the trough again, persuaded other anti-Kalenjin tribes to join with them, and the Kikuyu Kibaki was elected.
Githongo's target was Anglo Leasing and Finance Company Ltd. Registered in Britain, it had 18 contracts with the Kenyan government for the supply of everything from a forensic laboratory to a navy frigate and jeeps: 16% of the government's expenditure in 2003-04 went to Anglo Leasing. The company was no more than a street address in Liverpool. The American ambassador, William Bellamy, said that the amount of money siphoned off was enough to supply every HIV-positive Kenyan with antiretrovirals for 10 years.
Michela Wrong, author of the acclaimed book In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the Congo, is an exceptionally talented writer. It is easy to imagine George Clooney turning her account of the risks Githongo took - the way he was tailed by Kenyan intelligence after he fled to Britain; the malicious smear campaign against him at home - into a tale of government malfeasance and a crusade along the lines of Michael Clayton. She compares Kenya's corruption to a huge garbage dump that has grown higher and higher over the years. "Each stratum has a slightly different consistency - the garbage trucks brought mostly plastics and cardboard that week, perhaps, less household waste and more factory refuse - but it all smells identical, letting off vast methane sighs as it settles and shifts."
This is one of those rare books that deliver more than the title suggests. It is more than a story about a whistleblower, and more than about Kenya. It could have been written anywhere where corruption is endemic, and Wrong disposes of some general myths. One is the refrain that the president is an honest, upstanding, god-fearing man; he's not corrupt, it's his undisciplined children. "In countries where presidents have done their best to centralise power," Wrong writes, "altering constitutions, winning over the army and emasculating the judiciary, the notion that key decisions can be taken without their approval is laughable."
She also drives home this usually overlooked reality: for every corruptee, there is a corruptor. Or: "For every minister trousering a bribe, there had to be a western company ready to pay it." Not just western companies. Indeed, they are constrained by anti-bribery laws, however weakly enforced, while Chinese, Korean and Japanese companies pay huge bribes with impunity.
Further, Wrong makes depressingly clear that corruption in the developing world is aided and abetted by donor governments and the World Bank. Reflecting what she calls the bank's "moral myopia", the World Bank director in Kenya, Makhtar Diop, rented his spacious house from President Kibaki. Even when confronted with the full extent of the Anglo Leasing scandal, Diop in effect did nothing. His successor, Colin Bruce, continued to rent from the president and, despite evidence that the polls had been rigged in the 2008 election, assured his bosses in Washington that his landlord was the legitimate president of Kenya. Bruce was promoted to director for strategy and operations in the Africa region.
Wrong praises Britain's high commissioner in Kenya, Edward Clay. When his quiet diplomacy with the Kenyan leaders failed, Clay delivered a speech to the British Business Association of Kenya: "We never expected corruption to be vanquished overnight," he said about the transition from Moi to Kibaki. "We hoped it would not be rammed in our faces. But it has ... They may expect we shall not see, or notice, or will forgive them a bit of gluttony, but they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes." The speech had a profound impact - not on the government, but on the Kenyan people. Matatu drivers cheered Clay, policemen waved him through traffic and shoeshine boys joked "Five shillings for shoeshine, 10 for vomit".
In general, Githongo's well-documented exposé of the Anglo Leasing corruption was treated with disdain by Kikuyus, who felt he had betrayed his own, and passively accepted by donors. Only the Netherlands froze aid. Clay believed that, by failing to act forcefully, Britain and other donors "had set the worst possible precedent, not only for Africa, but to the recipients of British aid across the globe", Wrong writes. "If the donors were not going to make an example of Kenya over Anglo Leasing, it is hard to see when they would ever get tough." And in that depressing conclusion lies the larger story.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Where Kikuyus are...there must be a problem...and a solution in the making...

Wui! We are all Gods People…
Angel Gabriel came to the Lord and said 'I have to talk to you. We have some Kikuyus up here, and they are causing problems - They're swinging on the pearly gates, my horn is missing, they are wearing Savco jeans instead of their white robes, they're riding pickup trucks instead of the chariots, and they're selling their halos to people for discount prices. Furthermore, they refuse to keep the stairway to Heaven clear, since they keep crouching down midway hawking their wings! They have sub-let their mansions and are now living in the SQs. They are even attempting "atiriri" talk over here! I found some attempting to fit a carrier on the chariot for carrying "thaara wa n'gombe " (Napier grass) on their way from visits! They are even using mpesa to send money to "andu aitu" in hell.

The Lord said, 'Kikuyus are Kikuyus. If you want to know about real problems, call the devil.'

The Devil answered the phone, 'Hello? Hold on a minute.' The Devil returned to the phone, 'OK I'm back. What can I do for you?'

Gabriel replied, 'I just wanted to know what kind of problems you're having down there.'

The Devil said, 'Hold on again. I need to check on something.' After about 5 minutes the Devil returned to the phone and said, 'I'm back... Now what was the question?'

Gabriel said, 'What kind of problems are you having down there?' The Devil said, 'Man I don't believe this... hold on...(in the background you can hear "ngai!!!")

This time the Devil was gone 15 minutes...

The Devil returned and said,'I'm sorry Gabriel, I can't talk right now.Those Kikuyus have put out the fire and are selling me a match box if I want to light the fire again!