The Canadian anti-racist movement, while different and autonomous from its sister movement south of the 49th Parallel, has been inspired by the African-American led struggles for civil, social, economic, cultural and political rights.
Icons like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Ben Chavis, Jesse Jackson Jr., Fredrick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, George Jackson, Huey P. Newton are household names in the African-Canadian, Caribbean Canadian and Native Canadian communities.
As many of us know, one of the most ubiquitous rallying cries and chants during anti-racist rallies, protests and demonstrations is the slogan, “No Justice, No Peace!”
I remember the summer of 1989 being amidst angry protestors around the Queen’s Park subway in Toronto, making our way up the street to the Royal Ontario Museum chanting these and other slogans to vent our ire about a racist exhibition at that Museum which really demeaned continental Africans and people of African descent in general.
To some, the phrase, “No Justice, No Peace!” is just another tired slogan, to be grouped with “A People United, Shall Never Be Defeated!” or “An Injury To One Is An Injury to All”.
These cynics are of course obtuse, because they do not appreciate the blood, the sacrifice and the torture which infused the historical origins of those chants. The second phrase emanated from the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggles of Latin American women and men confronting the US backed dictatorships of Central and South America. The third slogan is from South Africa where the militant workers in that struggle-soaked nation were right at the frontlines of the South African national liberation movement.
This morning I want to talk about “No Justice, No Peace!” in the contest of the ongoing social and political turmoil in Kenya.
And I am doing it because I have been reeling with DISGUST, recoiling in horror at a new campaign for “Peace” launched primarily by Kenya’s media houses, principally the Nation Media Group, the Standard Group and the folks who run Kiss 100 FM and the Nairobi Star.
Now to be fair to people like Julie Gichuru at NTV and the KTN anchors, they appear sincere and earnest enough. It is good intentions all through.
At least at the surface level.
When you do scratch beneath that surface however, you are confronted with something else- a blatant attempt to restore social control and buttress the class domination of the comprador and petit bourgeoisie in Kenya.
Please stay with me if you are temporarily befuddled.
Most Kenyans know that the spontaneous anti-government insurrections were sparked off by the decision of the Electoral Commission of Kenya to steal the Presidential vote at the behest of Mwai Kibaki and his PNU cohorts. We also realize that criminals and tribalists have hijacked these protests to loot and plunder and attack members of specific ethnic groups.
One would expect that ANYONE interested in a peaceful solution to the crisis in Kenya would begin with where “rain began to beat us” to quote Chinua Achebe for the billionth time.
One would further expect that only a transparent restitution of justice would jump start a sustainable peace and national reconciliation process.
At a minimum, there would have to be some kind of a public acknowledgment that the flawed Presidential election results must be rectified.
That seems to be the consensus in Kenya, and judging by media reports, among the publics of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and many other African countries.
The indictment by the EU observer mission would seem to indicate that the capitals of capital have no doubt in their minds that Kibaki stole the elections.
Given the above, one would expect that a “peace process” dubbed “Save Our Country” jumpstarted last night by the main Kenyan media houses who were in the forefront of exposing the anomalies and irregularities would pay attention to the question of justice even as strove to put out all the infernos raging across Kenya.
What has happened instead?
A mealy mouthed editorial piece on peace carried simultaneously across different Nairobi media that insults the collective intelligence of Kenyans.
“Political leaders on both sides must be told in no uncertain terms that they are currently in great danger of losing their credibility in the eyes of Kenyans and the international community because systemic killing of the innocents sweeping Kenya, destruction of the economy and the spread of disaffection throughout the land. No grievance and no cause is worth the innocent blood of Kenyan children. The orgies of looting, burning, rape and wanton, well-orchestrated blood-letting are undermining the moral basis of the politicians’ cause…”
Excerpt from an editorial jointly run in the Daily Nation and Nairobi Star (Thursday, January 03, 2008)
Since when did “politicians on both sides” coerce ECK to steal the Presidential vote?
The culpability rests solely with President Kibaki. From the fascist diktats of Michuki, Muthaura, Murage and Co. we know that the ODM leadership has NOT had a chance to publicly address their followers and therefore cannot be accused of “orchestrating” or “instigating” anything.
Yes, the blood of innocents is flowing freely with mobs setting alight a church full of women and children and targeting innocent wananchi based on their ethnicity and regional origins.
But who is talking about the orgy of POLICE and PARA-MILITARY EXTRA-JUDICIAL EXECUTIONS?
By yesterday, there were over ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BULLET RIDDLED BODIES in the New Nyanza Hospital including corpses of INFANTS. Who shot to death those innocent unarmed civilians? The police have been executing ghetto youth in Kibera, Kawangware and elsewhere. Who employs and commands these killers in uniform?
Reports from Kisumu insist that the Kibaki regime may be using crack NRA troops from neighbouring Uganda to slaughter Kenyan citizens. When I first raised this issue online twenty four hours ago, some were quick to dismiss the very possibility. Today the Nyanza Provincial Police Officer is on the defensive, admitting she is aware of these widespread allegations even as she strenuously denies them.
In this regard I must state that I was somewhat disappointed by the public statement released yesterday by Kenyan Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai.
While I commend her for speaking up and appealing to Kibaki to take charge, I am disappointed that what motivated her was not so much the reality that the whole of Kenya is burning but rather that “her people”, the Central Kenyan communities were being targeted. Surely one can make a very strong case that the Luo communities residing in Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay and elsewhere are being similarly targeted, this time by THE STATE itself.
In fact, in the letters to editors page of the Standard there is this letter from a Kisumu resident of South Asian heritage which says, inter alia:
“…The recent riots are not Kisumu riots. Even the killings are State-operated to gain political mileage to discredit ODM’s Raila Odinga and his supporters.”
Mahesh R, Kisumu, p.8. Letter, The Standard, Thursday, January 03, 2008
Raila Odinga has publicly stated that he is ready to meet with international mediator and in fact as I write these lines is meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Pentagon House. Earlier this morning Amos Kimunya was interviewed by the BBC and he was quoted as saying that the Kibaki regime does NOT see the need for international mediators because they (PNU) can deal with the matter internally- a claim which is mocked by the ongoing protests. The same Kimunya has accused the international observers as being biased towards ODM after the EU team publicly denounced the anomalies in the tallying of the presidential results. President Kufuor of Ghana, the current AU Chairman was scheduled to be in Kenya today, but the Kibaki regime BLOCKED his coming.
Are these guys SERIOUS???!
Let us go back to the editorials. This is a passage from the Standard’s:
“…Employ a reputable international arbiter, NOT to determine who won the presidential poll, but to work out a road-map that will bring Kenya back from the brink and a mutually acceptable proposition for sharing power…Notwithstanding the inflation of figures in a number of areas, both ODM and PNU garnered 4 million plus votes in the presidential ballot, meaning the country is split right down the middle. The position of President is not vacant. Kibaki was declared President whether or not the presidential ballot was flawed…”
Standard editorial, Thursday, January 03, 2008
It is right in this excerpt that the mask slips to reveal the PNU underbelly of the much ballyhooed “Save Our Country” onslaught.
So we should not “determine who won the presidential poll” eh? How then, dear Standard editors, will we work out a road-map that will bring back Kenya from the brink?
Even queasier is the cheesy full page ad by the Concerned Citizens for Peace addressing two men-Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga- to do something.
The very content of the ad betrays its elitist, undemocratic character.
The 2007 Kenyan civic, parliamentary and presidential polls was a national affair involving MILLIONS of Kenyan citizens. What is happening in Kenya is NOT a PRIVATE FIST FIGHT involving the Othaya and Lang’ata MPs, but rather a NATIONAL CRISIS that has the future of MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of Kenyan women, children and men at stake.
To try and lock out the Kenyan people from an urgent democratic impasse and reduce it to a two man tussle is a grave insult to the Kenyan people.
By the way, WHERE is President Kibaki, the apparently “popularly, democratically and fairly elected leader”?
From the look of things right now one would be forgiven if they thought that Major-General Hussein Ali is the acting Head of State with chief government propagandist Dr. Alfred Mutua as his deputy.
In the few times I have seen Kibaki he is holed up at State House flanked with senior military officers giving the distinct impression that he is their hostage.
It is now approximately 12:15 as I keyboard these lines and reports on the television indicate that there are ongoing skirmishes between the police and pro-ODM youths along Thika Road, Mbagathi Way, Kibera, Eastlands and the City Centre. In other words, there is a minor uprising in Nairobi and not just the capital but also Kakamega, Bungoma, Mombasa, Kisumu and elsewhere.
On December 30th I spoke about Kibaki’s Coup.
Four days later the presence of police, para-military and military formations underscores my point about the overthrow of democratic rule.
What is actually laughable is the phenomenon of a horde of PNU election losers led by Kibaki down to his deputy Awori and FORMER cabinet ministers Tuju, Kombo, Kituyi, Shakombo etc MASQUERADING as a legitimate “government”.
Surely, if Kibaki had the mandate that PNU hawks like George Nyamweya claims he has, he should have formed a government by now. He should have by now been addressing his 4.5 million supporters at heavily attended mass rallies by now. Instead, Kibaki skulks stealthily in State House afraid to meet the very Kenyan citizens he claims to lead.
Which brings me back to the slogan:
“No Justice, No Peace!!”
Until we resolve the simple question of who Kenyans actually elected President on December 27, 2007, there WILL BE NO PEACE.
In my considered opinion, the SAVE OUR COUNTRY campaign is a slick, dishonest appeal by the pro-Kibaki comprador and petit-bourgeois business elite hoodwinking Kenyans to ACCEPT the fraudulent election results and legitimize criminal PNU’s civilian coup.
Why should Kibaki or Raila share power?
At the December 27th elections, Kenyans overwhelming voted for a new government:
That government is the Orange Democratic Movement led by its flag bearer, Raila Amolo Odinga.
Once again I say:
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!
A PEOPLE UNITED, SHALL NEVER BE DEFEATED!
AN INJURY TO ONE, IS AN INJURY TO ALL!
*Onyango Oloo is a Kenyan political activist and ex political prisoner.