Seriously thinking about security by Onyango Oloo

Reflections from Onyango Oloo on the Presidential Address on Mpeketoni

I think it is very important Uhuru Kenyatta to remain President of KENYA.

Note where my emphasis lies.

It is not on “Uhuru”.

Or “Kenyatta”.

Or “remain”.

Or “President”.

It is on KENYA.

Let me try this again:

It is very important for Uhuru Kenyatta to remain President of KENYA.

In other words, NOT the Jubilee candidate.

Not the TNA leader.

Not the former MP for Gatundu South.

Uhuru’s televised address to the nation startled many.

Coming after Al Shabaab had officially and publicly owned up as the mastermind of the Mpeketoni outrage, the insinuation that CORD, and its leader Raila Odinga somehow instigated the massacre reeked of malevolence and sinister motives.


Indeed, George Nyongesa, a well known blogger and activist with close ties to CORD has already put up the following Facebook update:

Raila Odinga to be arrested anytime! That is why there is deployment of GSU in the following areas: Kisii, Kisumu, Bungoma, Busia, Mombasa; and here in Nairobi: Kibera, Mathare, Kariobangi, Kasarani. This is all stupid govt plan is as a result of fear ongoing “national salvation dialogue” rallies across the country. My position remains unchanged. I don’t support this national dialogue thing with Jubilee. The stage is now properly set. They want to arrest Rt. Hon Raila Odinga. I have no problem with him being arrested but as our national anthem says: “let justice be our shield and defender”, not our tribe, numbers, guns, pangas, or military etc. I am firmly supporting Raila Odinga’s vision that another Kenya is possible, a better Kenya where citizens are peaceful, tolerant and united. A citizen that is empowered in pursuit of their dreams, aspirations, desires; and is growing in prosperity!


On the same social media platform, activist and former Nairobi senatorial aspirant Okiya Omtata expresses the following sentiments:

The Government should immediately arrest and prosecute Raila Amolo Odinga if it has evidence of his involvement in the Mpeketoni massacre. Otherwise, it is uncouth and not befitting of a whole President and his Government machinery to idle about and trivialise the deaths of some 60+ innocent Kenyans by using the genocide as a propaganda tool against Raila. Ashindwe na sanamu zake! The life of every Kenyan is precious and must be protected. Where it is criminally taken, the Government must pursue and bring those responsible to book. There is no room for anybody to go payuka payukaring like they are high on weed!


Kenyans will soon find out if indeed Raila Odinga will begin his fourth major stint as a prisoner of the Kenyan National Security State.

It will therefore be idle for Onyango Oloo to engage in further idle speculation.

I wanted to focus on something else.

In his remarks, President Kenyatta admitted that the national security and disciplined forces had PRIOR KNOWLEDGE of the Mpeketoni attacks but CHOSE TO DO NOTHING about these warnings.

George Musamali, a security analyst, appeared on QTV two days ago to discuss the Mpeketoni attacks. He revealed that Lamu County is one of the most fortified and highly secured parts of the country. On March 25, 2014 Dr. Monica Juma, the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Defence on behalf of the Kenya Government took over the Anti-Terrorism Unit located at Kiboko Camp within the Kenya Navy base at Manda Bay from the US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec. There is a GSU unit in Witu. Many of these security installations are within a 30 kilometre radius of the scene of the Mpeketoni attacks.

Why did it take hours for the government security apparatus to react, respond and send reinforcements to the victims and survivors who were being butchered mercilessly?

More poignantly why did it take 19 hours for the government through the Interior cabinet secretary and eventually the President to react publicly?

A clue to the answer of the question last posed can be gleaned from the very first few words blurted out by Joseph Ole Lenku and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Even before the cabinet secretary had left for Lamu County there was already a determination that CORD was involved in the killings of the residents of Mpeketoni.

Given the admission of responsibility by Al Shabaab, are Kenyans to now assume that Raila Amolo Odinga is now one of the main Jemedaris of the Mujaheedin of Al Shabaab? Is Senator Wetangula a trained suicide bomber? Is former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka that al Zawahiri of Kenya? Was the Tononoka Rally a recruitment drive for the CORD branch of Al Qaeda?

Do we have revealing photos, videos, screen shots, incriminating email messages and damning SMS implicating Bonny Khalwale, Hassan Omar and nominated MP Mwaura in a nefarious criminal plot to overthrow the Jubilee regime by violent means? Have there been some undercover Jubilee moles tracking Elizabeth Ong’oro every time she visits the Ladies for a short call?

During the April 11, 2011 Uhuru Park Rally welcoming back Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang from their from their appearance at the International Criminal Court the amount of venom, vituperation and sheer mindless hate against the so called “One Dangerous Man” would have made a Chinese tourist to believe that Kenya had just been invaded personally by Osama Bin Laden in the full company of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Papa Doc, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet and Pol Pot.

But that time, the Jubilee were merely expressing the sacrosanct, God-given constitutional and democratic rights guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke of “ethnic profiling” of a “certain community.”

I am writing these lines from the Weaver Room at the Silver Springs Hotel in Hurlingham owned by former President Mwai Kibaki. I am participating in a validation workshop organized by the Kenya Human Rights Commission to review a draft report on citizenship documentation and identification in Migori, Mandera and Wajir counties. One of the resource people invited to give his input to the draft is Senator Billow Kerrow from Mandera. In his remarks he stated that it is very difficult to be a representative of the Jubilee regime if one is from northern Kenya or any of the marginalized communities in the country. He revealed that NIS chief Gen. Gichangi told him to his face that “ALL SOMALIS ARE SUSPECTS.” He narrated his own ordeals in security Kenyan national identity papers. He informed us that the SISTER of the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization was yesterday detained for hours just because of her Somali ethnic background. Senator Kerrow told us of how a SENATOR from Tana River County was caught up in a swoop in Eastliegh. Even after producing his credentials as a Senator plus other documentation those were arrested by the cops who dismissed them as “FAKE.” Senator Billow Kerow then chuckled in remarking that he found President Kenyatta’s comments about “ethnic profiling” interesting in the light of the plight of the Somalis during the three month screening process at the Kasarani Concentration Camp. Many people whose only crime is merely LOOKING LIKE Somalis have had to part of thousands of shillings in bribes to corrupt police officers. The senator remarked sardonically that were the late Osama bin Laden to show up at the JKIA, he would be waved on and cheerfully welcomed to Kenya if he simply slipped a couple of US dollar bills into his passport.

The senator, who has a weekly weekend column with one of main newspapers received scathing tweets from employees from the Presidency- Dennis Itumbi and Eric Ng’eno to be specific- denouncing him as the “Senator for Suspects.” Another person who spoke at this workshop was a lecturer from Nakuru called Waqo (from Marsabit) who has been a resident of County for over twenty years. His home was raided by over 10 AP officers. When he produced his identification papers and inquired about why he was being harassed, the officer commanding the home invasion remarked that “Mr. Waqo, before you were a lecturer, you were born a “Waria” and therefore, a potential criminal.”

In any case, where is the EVIDENCE that members of the Agikuyu are being profiled? Who is doing the screening?

On a broader note, I join other Kenyans in expressing my shock at the resurgence of dim witted KANU era thinking from those Governors, parliamentarians and members of county assemblies who have been declaring fatwas purportedly “banning” certain politicians from venturing into certain counties. These echoes of “KANU zones” in the 21st Century AFTER the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution are simply blood curdling.
More seriously President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and the Jubilee regime should be reminded that theirs is the FIRST GOVERNMENT to be elected on the basis of the Kenya Constitution and therefore are duty bound to uphold the Bill of Rights and the rest of the provisions of that supreme law of the land. No has given them a permit to pick and choose what aspects of the constitution should be implemented and which should be abrogated.

Lastly it should be noted that Kenyans are among the MOST POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS PEOPLE on this planet. They are certainly NOT as IGNORANT as large swathes of the American people who were so gullible as to buy the HOGWASH that George Bush was force feeding them as Republicans sold their snake oil about the so called “War Against Terror”. Therefore, Jubilee has to do a lot better than relying on gossip, rumours, lies and half truths harvested from content free blogs and Facebook walls.

By Mzee Posted in kenya

One comment on “Seriously thinking about security by Onyango Oloo

  1. From Jomo to Uhuru: How Kenya lost the battle for security

    The regime defenders were to find themselves in an awkward situation when the same fate befell their own JM Kariuki six years later. What goes round comes round, writes David Ndii. ILLUSTRATION | J NYAGAH NATION MEDIA GROUP

    By David Ndii

    Recently, Nigeria’s statisticians momentarily took Boko Haram off the headlines by reporting that Nigeria’s economy was 80 per cent larger than previously thought, eclipsing South Africa as the continent’s largest. Remarkably, nobody seemed to question what neglecting to rebase their GDP for twenty five years might say about Nigeria’s governance.

    I have listened to several interviews of survivors of Boko Haram attacks and one question keeps recurring. Where were the soldiers who were supposed to be protecting you? The answer is almost invariably the same. They ran away with us. Africa’s biggest economy is a failed state.

    What, to paraphrase Chinua Achebe, is the trouble with Nigeria?

    The Sultan of Sokoto, the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, sums it in one word: corruption. “Corruption breeds injustice. Injustice is a big barrier to good governance and if you don’t have good governance in any society, you don’t have the people.”

    READ: MEYER: The ‘C’ words that capture Kenya’s biggest dilemmas

    READ: Duty on steel may raise cost of building homes

    READ: KIAI: The real enemy roams free as we hunt Shabaab

    READ: KISERO: Insecurity must not be allowed to compromise our economic activity

    A young Nigerian scholar Akinola Olojo supports the Sultan’s prognosis. “Boko Haram”, he writes, “has been able to draw upon a considerable base of local sympathy and support largely from the ranks of the uneducated, unemployed and impoverished youths in Northern Nigeria. In addition, the group’s ability to manoeuvre and stage-manage the force of religion in achieving its objectives appears to be dangerously reinforced by the influence of political interests and elites.”

    The parallels between Nigeria’s security crisis and our own is inescapable. “A man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body” so goes the Igbo proverb popularised by Achebe.

    Where did the rain start beating us?

    It began when we adopted what I call development fundamentalism. This is the ideology that the raison d’être of the state is material progress. At the extreme it is reduced to economic growth, as we did in Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965.

    The pillars of a state are a cohesive society, security and justice. They are indivisible and mutually reinforcing. But these have been at the periphery of our development agenda.

    We have retained intact the repressive colonial security infrastructure whose primary function was to protect the Government from its oppressed subjects.


    In this ideology, nation building is exactly that—construction. Roads have historically occupied the pride of place, but railways are the flavour of the month. We lament that we are spending too much money on recurrent expenditure instead of “development” by which we mean building ever grander edifices.

    We forget recurrent expenditure includes the salaries for police officers, and money to maintain their vehicles as well as to buy the fuel they need to respond when you call them.

    The rain beat us harder with the emergence of an incestuous, unbelievably greedy oligarchy that straddles the civil service, business and politics. We went one further than other countries, legitimising civil servants active involvement in business.

    In a capitalist economy, an independent policy maker’s goal is to have as a much competition in the economy as possible. The oligarchs’ interest is the complete opposite—to undermine competition in the industries where they have interests.

    This conflict of interest is at the heart of our economic underperformance, unemployment and inequality. It has created a high cost economy that generates supernormal profits for the corporate aristocracy at the expense of creating jobs and providing affordable goods and services.

    Case in point. This year’s budget contained an increase in tariffs for the local steel industry. Now, industries don’t come more capital intensive than steel, so why would an economy that needs to create jobs single out the most capital intensive industry for protection? And why now? Standard Gauge Railway, that’s why. It’s the oligarchs sniffing out the opportunities to cash in.

    But what has this to do with insecurity, one might ask? It will make importing the stuff that Jua Kali artisans make for us: windows, doors, furniture, karais, and the rest of it, cheaper. As of last year, Jua Kali manufacturing employed 2.4 million people.

    This is not only close to ten times the number employed in ALL the formal manufacturing industry (254,000), it is in fact one and a half times the 1.6 million total employment in the entire formal private sector economy.

    Let us, for argument’s sake, suppose that this protection will destroy 10 per cent of Jua Kali manufacturing jobs and increase the formal manufacturing ones by 20 per cent. It works to 240,000 jobs sacrificed for 50,000 jobs, that is, a net loss of 190,000jobs — round it up to 200,000. The vast majority will suffer without bitterness, but a few will not take it lying down. Let’s say only one per cent turn to crime. That is two thousand more criminals.


    Of these, one per cent might fall prey to Al Shabaab. That’s 20 homegrown terrorists. While you are being mugged, the oligarchs will be raising their glasses to another year of double digit growth.

    Then came ethnic political mobilisation — and the heavens opened. The first case of pure unadulterated ethnic political mobilisation that comes to mind is the oathing of Kikuyus to defend the regime following the assassination of Tom Mboya in 1969. The regime defenders were to find themselves in an awkward situation when the same fate befell their own JM Kariuki six years later. What goes round comes round.

    Moi came to power on a platform of eradicating tribalism and corruption. He did neither but, thankfully, he ran an equal opportunity kleptocracy. Anybody could eat, as long as they were prepared to be a sycophant and to spread the loot. While more economically costly than Kenyatta’s exclusionary one, its inclusivity made for social stability.

    Moi ended the political marginalisation of northern Kenya, and the Somali people in particular. If the war with Al Shabaab was in the context of the Kenyatta era post Shifta political environment, we would be like Northern Nigeria today or worse.

    The cynical political manipulation of ethnicity returned with a vengeance with the Kibaki regime, in the aftermath of the MoU fallout. We may never know why the Kibaki oligarchy found it impossible to live with the MoU. My own sense, with the benefit of hindsight, is Anglo Leasing.

    The connivance required to execute and keep the scams under wraps would not have been possible in the environment of openness that the spirit of NARC would have engendered. We now know that the pillage began on day one. The genteel Moody Awori seemed a rather unlikely choice for Vice President following the death of Kijana Wamalwa — until he was fingered as a key player in the Anglo Leasing scams.

    Whatever the case, the oligarchy reverted to the tried and tested—the Luo bogeyman. Even Anglo-Leasing was rationalized thus. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Money was needed to defend the Government from the “munjaruo.”


    It is this mindset that blindsided the Government and the security services in the wake of the 2007 election debacle. With all the attention focused on Kibera and Kisumu, they did not see Rift Valley coming. ICC, same script.

    When under threat social groups, family, clan, tribe, even sheep’s instinct is to close ranks and fight the common threat. But these syndromes have so damaged our social fabric that even under external threat our instinct is to exploit the very differences we ought to forget for political and financial gain.

    Terrorists strike, and our first instinct is how to get political mileage out of it. The need to revamp security infrastructure is high season for dubious single sourced security procurement.

    No security infrastructure, however sophisticated, can protect us from our prejudices, intolerance, greed and warped national priorities. “Insecurity must not be allowed to compromise our economic activity” writes a prominent business journalist.

    “This political bickering during a national tragedy is an unseemly spectacle that can only repel potential tourists and investors”, warns the editorial of another national newspaper.

    It is fine it seems for Kenyans to be massacred in Bungoma, Marsabit and Mandera as long its does not get enough press to alarm tourists and investors.

    Prof Abdalla Bujra is no political activist. He is one of Africa’s most accomplished development scholars. He grew up in Lamu. This is what he said in a research interview in February this year. “What you have in Lamu is a question of internal colonialism. All the powerful government people—the PCs, the DCs, the DOs, all the powerful public officers, especially those handing land matters have never been local, they all come from Nairobi.

    “In the 1970s, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta opted to tackle the burning land question in Central Province by importing thousands of Agikuyu into Lamu. This was done in total disregard to the interests of the Bajuni, Swahili, Orma, Awer and other indigenous Lamu people many of whom had been evicted from their ancestral land earlier.


    Jomo Kenyatta and his acolytes like the former Coast PC (Eliud Mahihu) were in power when local, politically connected elites from Nairobi grabbed a lot of land in Lamu County.

    “All these issues planted the seeds of simmering conflict that will explode in the region if local grievances are not dealt with.”

    This is what community leaders told the same researchers: “We Lamu and Coastal people have for centuries welcomed and embraced visitors in our midst. Some have become Muslim; intermarried, made Lamu their home, speak in the Amu dialect—you cannot tell they came from Kirinyaga, Machakos, Meru, Kisumu, Bungoma. They have become part of us; they are our neighbours, our friends.

    But how do you go to someone’s home, grab their land, kick them out, bring your own family members, recreate and rename the neighbourhoods after your own villages upcountry? On top of that you come into local elections and attempt to usurp power. Can’t the Lamu people govern Lamu?

    “We fear that this LAPSSET project which requires a population of one million people will make us, the indigenous people of Lamu, lose our cultural, religious and ethnic identity forever. We are only 100,000 right now in the whole of Lamu.”

    Social cohesion, security, justice.

    Where were the security services when Mpeketoni exploded? They were in Mombasa. Some were there to protect tourists and investments from the people, some to attend the political rally.

    Had they encountered the attackers en route, they’d have taken their bribe and wished them safari njema. They are as corrupt, as divided, as myopic as the rest of us.

    Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity. But we can’t go there, can we? What goes round comes round. Choices. Consequences.

    Dr Ndii is Managing Director of Africa Economics


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