2013: A Referendum on the Integrity of the Heart and Soul of the Kenyan People
Either Kenyans are full of contradictions or are being underestimated by the two tribal leaders being indicted by the ICC. The contradiction being that a majority of them support the ICC process at the same time support the very suspects who this process will be prosecuting. So either the polls are flat out wrong and Kenyans are going to deal a decisive blow to end impunity and instead chose a path of peace and prosperity and rise above ethnic politics or the polls are spot on. Then we are on our way to becoming a pariah state. Perhaps out of a mixture of concern, fear hope and optimism I chose to believe the former. That the future is on the side of the Kenyan people.
So here are the scenarios and choices we face. Scenario one, is that the two suspects will put country and the people of Kenya beyond their blind ambition, drop out of the presidential race and let Kenyans get on with the business of nation building while they take individual responsibility for their pending cases. Scenario two, is they stay on in the race and lose in which case they will be indicted or extricated by the ICC. Scenario three, is that they stay in the race and the election goes into a runoff. In which case we have an unprecedented electoral and constitutional crisis which I am not quite certain how we would navigate. Another scenario is that they win decisively in the first round. Then we have a real problem as we will cease to being Africa's best hope and confirm our standing in the league of pariah states. The consequence of this will be devastating to Kenya’s standing in the international community as the Chief Mediator Kofi Annan warned. Kenya may be isolated by the international community and levied with sanctions if the ICC duo are uncooperative. Alternatively, if they do cooperate, Kenya will be the only country in the history of democracy with a sitting President and Vice President absent ,on trial in the ICC and potentially imprisoned abroad in an international jail cell. I am not quite sure either where that will leave us?
The last scenario for which I sincerely fear for in Kenya is if the ICC 4 are truly innocent because it means that the violence that we witnessed in 2007 was spontaneous and innate to our society as opposed to having been systematically planned or instigated. It would imply that the violence that rocked Kenya cannot be blamed on any individual's criminal devices but upon our collective national conscience, ethnic biases and socio-economic discontentment and rivalries. Why this is particularly worrying is because it means that the potential for violence in the 2013 and subsequent elections is real as it needs not be fomented. That we are a people in a constant state of conflict as opposed to a tolerant and peace loving people . The conditions for violent outbursts and reprisals are more real today than they were before. The same rifts still exist if they have not been exacerbated by the violence of 2007 , ethnic suspicions still linger, sharp partisan grudges persist, land disputes remain unresolved and poverty and inequity are still stark in our society. The proposition that the ICC 4 instigated the violence should ironically be consoling because it relieves some responsibility for the 2007 election violence from the conscience of the Kenya public. If the accused did not plan these homicidal plots, then it was a murderous rampage by Kenyans against Kenyans leaving in its wake 1133 dead, thousands injured and over 400,000 internally displaced.
Justice Kriegler pointed out poignantly and hopefully not prophetically that if we are not careful then 2007 will look like a Christmas party. This goes on the presumption that the Kenyan people and not the ICC 4 bear the greatest responsibility for the violence. Keep in mind that if it was not the four of them then it was the rest of us. Someone is guilty. The nation did not just explode spontaneously. Either it was instigated or it is innate to the Kenyan electoral process and in the inherent nature of our ethnic relations. A proposition I firmly reject. The ICC is due to make a ruling on this argument next year. I am worried as if the former part of this hypothesis is right, as Musalia Mudavadi suggested, then God help us because then it is the Kenyan people who bear the greatest responsibility for planning, funding and executing mass murders, forcible transfers of populations, rape and other gross inhumane acts against humanity and it is we collectively who should be on trial.
2013 will therefore be a referendum on the integrity of the heart and soul of the Kenyan people and not on the ICC process contrary to these tribal kingpins’ proclamations. As the Chief Prosecutor for the ICC Bensouda affirmed, the ICC process is a trial not against the people, ethnic groups or government of Kenya but against the alleged willful and criminal conduct of the said four individuals during the 2007 elections. The burden of proof is upon them not on the Kenyan people. In the court of public opinion, the overwhelmingly affirmative choice for a new constitutional order we made in 2010 gives evidence to the case that they must not be allowed to apportion blame to us as we took decisive steps to distance ourselves from the 2007 debacle. It is wrong to gloat on anyone’s misfortune but I must point out that they brought this harsh judgment and damnation upon themselves with little help from the Kenyan people, the international community or their political foes. An old Swahili adage says,” Nguruwe hujipika na mafuta yake mwenyewe” (A pig fries itself in its own oil ). The most vocal of the ICC 4 championed for the ICC process with bold and miscalculated proclamations of “let’s not be vague, go to the Hague”. Whose fault is this? Certainly not the Kenyan people.
In 2013 rather than succumb to skepticism the Kenyan people must proactively go out into our communities, preach peace and educate the masses on the stakes in these elections. We cannot afford to remain quiet when so much is at stake. If two individuals speaking division and bankrolling deception to hoodwink and bamboozle the public are polarizing our nation and compromising our great destiny imagine what we can collectively achieve if we dedicate ourselves individually. We cannot afford to be quiet. Do it for yourself; do it for your children and do it for the future of this our beloved country Kenya.
By Nathan Wangusi. Nathan is a PhD Candidate at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in the United States of America.
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