Archive for May, 2012

Women and men are leaders

May 30, 2012


Women are as good leaders as (some even better than men)

“leader” doesn’t mean “Man”

Let’s walk the talk about women having the potential for leadership by voting for women. Please elect 3 women out of the 6 positions up for grabs in the 4 March general elections.


Relatively highly educated women a hindrance to Real women empowerment.

May 20, 2012

This might sound paradoxical but it is the practical truth on the ground.

In my  endeavor  at changing the various  social constructs that prescribe women to a lower caste than men in most societies, the biggest  hurdles  I’ve had to surmount are the relatively well Educated women. These women are in a position to explain at length terms such as feminism, feminist movements,women in Development, Gender, Gender and development etc. To their credit, they don’t actually block women empowerment  on purpose, but inadvertently.

When I tell such  women to vote for women, the first answer I get is actually a cliche sold by men: ” we need good leaders not female leaders”! This is a good answer in a place like Rwanda where women actually make up over 50% in elective positions. In such a country,  everyone realizes that women are as good leaders ( or as bad leaders) as men. Rwandan society is past the stage of quantity and they are now at the level of quality.

Such a cliche is worse than mere dangerous in a society like Kenya where the term “leader” and “man” are routinely used interchangeably. Or in the US of A where Republicans believe that  “women cannot be POTUS”.  Such a statement can be deliberately misinterpreted by some male chauvinist to  “only men are good leaders”. It easy to convince women and men in such societies  that leader implies strength, and strength is only inherently  present in men. They’ll therefore choose from amongst the male candidates and ignore all the female candidates irrespective of qualifications or lack thereof.

Incidentally,these same educated women will be at the forefront of agitation for quotas for women. And the question that really shake my head is: if in elections it’s not about women but leaders, how come now it’s now about women? To flip the argument, they stop Women from flexing their electoral  muscle to get half the elective positions with dignity,then grovel for alms in form of quotas. Usually a third!

I’m so much interested in women and politics for various  reasons. First and foremost,  politics affords one (or a group) the power of prioritizing policies. Decisions affecting the daily life of people of a country are made at the political level. In other words,politics is real power and getting more women in politics is the ultimate women  empowerment.

Secondly, women in most countries have suffrage rights and the numerical strength  to effect real political change. That is, by electing women, they can change the power dynamics on which patriarchy hinges.

Thirdly, Political leadership  is the most visible form of leadership,and all the other forms pay homage to it. More women in politics would send a very strong message to all the other social spheres that women are leaders. The message will seep down to the family level and cause changes in the way we socialize our daughters. Our daughters will grow up knowing that women and men are leaders.

It will also send a very strong message to the file and rank of management (private/public) that women can be as good managers (a form of leadership) as men. As things stand now, many very qualified women are mark-timing in mediocre positions, in both public and private bodies, as men are reluctant to promote them.

These same highly educated women will write books, carry out research,  and present academic papers showing that there’s no qualitative improvement in the lives of women by having women in politics. In the same vein they conclude that elected women end up being assimilated into the patriarchal system.

The glaring point they hide,or don’t recognize from their arguments is  that most of these women are actually voted in by men, not women. Women mostly vote for men. The last time I checked, the one who pays the piper, calls the tune. These elected women bend over backwards to please their core constituency: men! Imagine Obama officially inviting all Kenyans in the USA to the Whitehouse…?!

Such educated women leave me pondering as to their motivations: First, that it is possible that they are reluctant to acknowledge women are as good leaders as men in order to keep getting funds for “women empowerment”

Secondly, that maybe the Patriarchal system of socialization has scarred them for life with the “women are weak” message.

Maybe, the education system is so patriarchal in nature,and they are just regurgitating to us the imbibed knowledge so we shouldn’t judge them too harshly…

By the bye there’s nothing that spells “weakness” in capital letters than Quotas!

KIBAKI is Shouting over the “ceremonial presidency” in the current constitution, but Kenyans are either hard of hearing or too daft to read in between the lines!

May 20, 2012

I used to think phrases such as “actions speak louder than words” meant something. There was this cartoonist in one of the dailies that tried to tell Kenyans the frustrations kibaki is having with his unilateral  appointments. 

Since the promulgation of the “new constitution”, kibaki has been eating nothing but humble pie. He has made several “Unilateral” appointments which have been contested by his coalition partner, Raila, and in the courts. The appointments have subsequently been quashed,and the whole process has had to start from scratch, and followed the proper constitutional processes.

Either kibaki and his handlers are still in the old-constitution mentality,or they are trying to subtly pass the message to kenyans that the presidency in the current constitution is nothing to write home about. I’m tempted to go with the latter argument,unless kibaki is having  insanity as defined by one Einstein: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.   

If one goes through the constitution with a fine tooth brush, one realizes that the presidency has all the functions present in the old constitution,but no power at all. The presidency is basically powerful in theory,not practice. There’s no room whatsoever for unilateral decisions. The “presidency’s powers” is now  like “free-will” in religion. The president will have the functions of appointment and dismissal of most senior personnel in government, but she/he will have to get the go ahead from Parliament on EVETYTHING! The president will for all practical purposes and intents be a rubber stamp.

I know most Kenyans love to hate the current  coalition government arrangement, and most politicians can be heard vowing never to get into such an arrangement. I’ll laugh for five good years when they get to the presidency only to realize they have a worse arrangement, with Parliament calling the shots!      

I understand politics, and leadership in general, is by and large a function of perception, and as such kibaki wouldn’t want to come all out and declare the presidency ceremonial. This is mainly  because it would expose the presidency as a facade and make it almost impossible to govern. I’m suspecting that this is the same reason that the COE (committee of experts) decided to make the process of getting to statehouse so hard, to give the impression that once one passes all the gruelling huddles on his/her way to the presidency then one is powerful and all Kenyans are supposed to pay homage to the president-elect.

All this is well and good in an ideal country where the politicians and the electorate are mature enough not to behave like high school kids. It would be nice to watch all these politicians go around the country lying to Kenyans how they’ll get  them piped milk to their homes. 

However, with the prospect of violence hanging over Kenya like the famed sword of Damocles, it makes my heart sink. Kenyans will destroy the country and each other over a useless presidency!                       

What’s the gender of a leader?

May 14, 2012


Every other Tom, Dick and Marende wants to be Senator or Governor….what about MP?

May 13, 2012

Apparently every other popular politician, and politician wannabes, have their eyes firmly  set on either the presidency or the new seats ie Governor and Senator.

The last time I checked, for all practical purposes and intents, the government will be, by and large, run by the legislature, and more particularly the National assembly. In my analysis MPs will even be involved in the determination of the exact amount of money allocated to the counties.       

Whichever the party that controls the national assembly will be effectively running the government irrespective of whether or not it has the presidency. In fact,Parliament checks the presidency so much that the president will need permission from Parliament to go to the Loos!

Incidentally, the useless seats are the ones that have the stringent of conditions to acquire. It seems Kenyans have internalized “the steeper the price the superior the quality…” idea.

The BIG Question is: if every able-minded politician ends up as a governor or senator, who will run the government,mediocre thugs?

Kenyans, read the constitution and be afraid. Be very afraid!           

2002: main presidential candidates were from central province. 2012/3: All presidential candidates shall be from Western province!

May 9, 2012

Since the advent of multi” party politics in Kenya, 2002 was the only time Kenya didn’t experience political violence.

In 1992 and 1997, Kenya had pre-election violence, also christened “ethnic cleansing” or “ethnic clashes”. The clashes didn’t get international attention coz it only involved some parts of the country so the rest of the Juggernaut that is Kenya still crawled on. My conspiracies-prone mind is also of the idea that the international powers that be had no particular interest in rocking the cosy arrangements they had with the status quo…but this is neither here nor there.

In 2002, the leading lights in the opposition united to form NAK. Some KANU renegades formed LDP party and joined the NAK at the 11th hour (Johnny come lately?) to form NARC. The Bible says that those that came to work at 5 PM shall be paid the same as those who arrived for work in the the morning…..I digress.

NARC chose President  Kibaki  (CENTRAL PROVINCE) to be its  flag bearer.

Moi,the then president and head of KANU had already settled for Uhuru Kenyatta (CENTRAL PROVINCE) as his preffered  presidential flag bearer,a situation that had precipitated the jumping ship of the malcontents in a boat called LDP.

All this set the stage for a presidential contest between members of a single community.  This was the most exciting electoral process I’ve ever been engaged in. I’m sure most enlightened Kenyans who witnessed and/ took part in it would be hard pressed to disagree. 

Kenyans rose beyond the petty issue of tribe. Nobody was hated or killed because of voting for a person of his tribe, since we were all choosing from members of the same tribe.

The political discourse during this electioneering period was  on real issues: qualifications,age and experience of the candidate, and the party with the manifesto that would be able to address the various issues afflicting Kenyans at the time…

I was convinced that Kenya was finally truly and firmly on its way out of political tribalism, which would enable Kenyans to gradually deal with social tribalism. In fact, if Raila had not come up with the fractious and contentious issue of MOU, he was guaranteed all or most of the Kikuyu votes as well as votes from all over the county in 2012, or whenever kibaki left office. But I guess his greed got the better of him and the rest is history…

Kenya has yet another chance of killing many birds with one stone by voting ONLY from among candidates from WESTERN PROVINCE

For starters Kenya will be able to exorcise itself of the ghosts of tribalism. Voting from members of only  a single community shall effectively neutralize  the issue of tribe as  a qualifications for the presidency.

Secondly,it’ll enable Kenyans to start scrutinizing the various presidential  candidates’ individual qualifications and/ experience.

Kenyans shall be able to scrutinize the parties and their manifestoes. The Political party with the best manifesto, and the people with the capacity to walk the talk of those manifestoes shall be elected.

This will grant all those like me who yearn for national leaders their wish!

Thirdly,Kenya and Kenyans  will be able to pick up the gradual but important process of ethnic healing.

The country will also  avoid another bout of PEV. This will enable the country to build on the current economic gains, rather than starting from 1% again.

This will also prove to everyone that every community has the potential of producing qualified and capable presidents!

This will enable Kenyans to move past the ideology of “mtu wetu” 

So far we have various presidential candidates from the region: Mudavadi, Eugene, Jirongo….I sincerely hope Mukhisa kituyi gets into the race for statehouse!                    


RAILA: “It’ll be ODM vs PNU in 2012/3 elections!” Translation: Kenyans need to go back to 2007’s “operation 42 minus 1”

May 7, 2012

Originally, ODM was created as a movement of those against the so called “wako draft” (“orange camp” as oppossed to the “banana camp”)  during the 2005 referendum on the constitution. This movement comprised of two main categories of people. There were those who were in opposition to the constitution for it’s various shortcomings. This group can be said to have been against the draft constitution in principle. Most were civil society actors, ordinary Kenyans, and a sprinkling of politicians.

The second  group of the “orange movement” was the larger of the two, and it was populated by politicians who had an axe to grind with the kibaki administration. There were two groups here. The first one was KANU led by Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto who were aggrieved after losing  the presidency to kibaki in the 2002 General elections.

The second group of those who were in opposition to the draft  constitution to spite kibaki and his government were the MOU guys. This was a group of politicians who had originally been in KANU but left in a huff after Moi chose Uhuru Kenyatta as his heir. They formed  LDP party and  joined NAK ( kibaki, Ngilu,& the late Wamalwa) in the run-up to the elections  to form the rainbow coalition (NARC) which won the 2002 general elections with kibaki as president.

According to these LDP stalwarts, during the formation of NARC, there was an MOU between LDP and NAK which kibaki disregarded once in power. It’s note worthy here that not all the former LDP luminaries bought into the MOU rhetoric. Notable among them were the then VicePresident Moody Awori, Ngilu and Prof Saitoti. They were in the kibaki’s “banana camp”.

This referendum actually sowed the seeds of the tree which gave Kenya the fruits of ’07/’08 PEV. The referendum which was originally about the constitution ended up being a contest of might between “mt Kenya Mafia” vis-a-vis all other tribes.   

After winning the 2005 referendum, which culminated in the rejection of the draft constitution, the movement decided to upgrade its status to a political party(ODM-Kenya). However, given that the various actors in the orange movement  had just but  a single aim of embarrassing kibaki’s government by defeating his wako draft, they started drifting apart.

KANU split into two with Ruto’s faction remaining in (ODM-Kenya) while Uhuru’s faction cut links with the new party. I believe Uhuru felt used by ODM-Kenya  to further it’s  agenda.

After sometime there was a power struggle in ODM-Kenya  between Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. Raila Odinga and his supporters decamped from ODM-Kenya  to another party called ODM.

In 2007 kibaki decided – against his earlier promise to be a one-term president – to run for a second presidential term. In as much as this was constitutional, and his Democratic right, he could have done a Mandela. This could’ve done his legacy, and Kenya in general a whole lot of good. 

He didn’t think his various parties ( DP, NAK, NARC) were adequate to get him the second term at the house on the hill. He and his supporters  crafted the Party of National Unity (PNU), whose sole ideology if I may call it that was to win him the presidency. Fullstop. This is the reason it disintegrated into splinter parties immediately on his assumption of the presidency. PNU was charged with all the activities of ensuring that every Kikuyu and his dog voted for kibaki. It enlisted the support of the other GEMA communities to defeat ODM. PNU members would go round the villages scaring the day light out of Wanjiku’s by telling them vote for PNU OR be exterminated by ODM and Raila if they get into power! In fact Uhuru, who had hitherto been opposed to kibaki hurriedly joined PNU bandwagon.    

Actually, the point of Kibaki’s decision to run for a second presidential term is where the rain started beating us as a country.

All the supporters of the orange movement believed  that they had defeated kibaki and his government by overwhelmingly voting “NO”. The idea that he was still the president after losing the referendum grated on their nerves. Another presidential term was not exactly music to their ears! It was,therefore, easy to rally all these people by focusing them not on defeating Kibaki but defeating the Kikuyu. This came to be known as “operation  42 minus one”, which politically, was aimed at removing kibaki from power, but socially it was sold to and bought by gullible wananchi as extermination of the Kikuyu.

2007 was, therefore, basically  ODM (Raila) versus PNU(kibaki) on the surface. And Kikuyu( and rest of GEMA) aka Mt Kenya Mafia, versus all the other tribes, under the political radar. Most people  who ran on a PNU ticket in areas outside “mt kenya Mafia” areas  was handed a defeat. The vice versa was true,a case in point being Nyaga.  

When Raila speaks of wanting a rematch of PNU vs ODM, it means he has just realized that as a person he doesn’t have what it takes to get the presidency, especially after losing mudavadi. He is in effect telling Kenyans that we should go back to 2007 and revive all the tribal animosity that existed then so that moronic Kenyans can make him the president. He stiil believes ODM’s 2007 “operation 42-1” is a viable project. He doesn’t exactly care whether kenyans  destroy the country in the process  

This may still work if all the Kikuyu support Uhuru Kenyatta for the presidency (another person who’s hell bent on becoming the president and the rest of you can go face MT Kenya for all he cares).

In fact, ODMs’ popularity is directly proportional to the popularity of a Kikuyu presidential candidate(s). 

Mudavadi is Kenyans’ only chance of a peaceful election. If Kenyans across the country overwhelmingly vote for him, and it’s looking ever more probable, the  project Raila is trying to resuscitate will be truly dead, and everyone can now be free to pursue  activities that give him/her daily bread.                          


Mudavadi: Kenya’s best shot at a peaceful election followed by a stable country.

May 3, 2012

By now you must have noticed I’m concerned with the greater ideal of having a peaceful election in Kenya, which will lead to a stable country, and eventually to development. Nobody should ever lie to you that there can be development without peace and stability in a country.

For those of us who’ve decided to forget, prior to 2007 general elections, the economy was growing at 7%. By the time Kenyans were done behaving like high- school- kids- on- strike( read:PEV), the country was barely doing a 1% on the growth scale. We would be very far if we had avoided the PEV, and instead  built on the 7% growth.

Mudavadi’s presidency has the potential of uniting Kenyans across the country. Everybody recognizes his mild behavior as an asset the country desperately need. In the upcoming elections Kenya needs a president who is non confrontational.

According to the recent opinion polls, he was rated as one who can easily get support from all the regions in the country.

There’s a time for everything and this is not the time for a president who will attract unnecessary confrontation. Any Kikuyu presidency is, to put it mildly, a powder keg waiting to explode. You could recall the reaction to kimunya’s appointments at the KPA recently. There’d be so much friction we would easily head the ’07/’08 way.

On the other hand,Raila’s unnecessarily confrontational stance over the ICC has spoiled his candidature. In fact, his confrontations with the ocampo4 has been behind the rise in the two guys’ popularity. Uhuru and Ruto have whatever support they have because of sympathy. The support base of these two feel (rightly or wrongly) that the two are being sacrificed at the alter of Raila’s presidency. If Raila won, irrespective of whether he won fair & square, there’d  always be issues. This would not be a conducive environment for investment by both local and foreign investors, thereby, no development.  

I’m hoping that we can all, irrespective of our tribal background, vote and support mudavadi,unless we are more interested in unnecessary confrontation rather than peace. I’ve heard it said that kibaki is fronting mudavadi just in case the ocampo2 get barred from contesting. This means kibaki is not as tribal as some pple have made him appear. This is however neither here nor there. Kenyans, and Kenya needs Mudavadi.  

Let’s make the presidency something that unites us rather than something that creates a wedge between us as  Kenyans.

For your information, the president will not bring development. It’s us, Kenyans, who’ll work hard and make the economy grow. This will only happen in a peaceful, stable  environment.

By the bye, I’ve not said Mr Mudavadi is perfect: Him who has no sin cast the first stone. If you need to elect a pastor to be your president, I’ll ask pastor Muiru…                    

Martha karua 2012: Can Gender trump Tribe in the race to statehouse in Kenya?

May 1, 2012

Martha karua is a presidential candidate in the upcoming General elections in Kenya. She’s among those women who’ve perennially “made it” in politics in a very patriarchal society,against all odds. She epitomizes the idea of “strength of a woman” in spades!

She has held various ministerial positions,and she went on to become a minister in one of the most powerful ministries in kenya : ministry of justice cohesion and constitutional affairs. Martha Karua is one of  very few Kenyan politicians to ever resign a ministerial position: She resigned from the ministry of justice citing frustrations  by non-reformist in the kibaki government.   

Martha Karua hails from the Kikuyu ethnic community (tribe) from central province. This fact has never exactly, necessarily, mattered during all those times she’s been in politics. It does now.

Kenyatta and kibaki, first and third presidents of Kenya respectively, hail from the same Kikuyu ethnic community. The Kikuyu community happens to be the largest, numerically, and there has existed this feeling that the Kikuyu can monopolize the presidency to the end of the world. My guess is that if one was to tell a congregation that the end of the world is nigh, and then followed that with a quip that Kenyans should, therefore, not sweat the Kikuyu having the presidency, one would be run out of the church.I digress…

Back to the issue at hand. The complicated marriage between the presidency and tribe in Kenya stems from the perception (right or wrong) that once a tribe has the presidency,all it’s members benefit at the expense of the rest of the Kenyan population. It’s said that the Kenyatta presidency benefitted the Kikuyu, the Moi regime benefitted  the Kalenjin and now the kibaki regime is benefiting the Kikuyu. Again! The post election violence of ’07/’08 was actually a veiled opposition to kibaki’s (read:Kikuyu) second presidential term.

Martha Karua is campaigning to be the 4th occupant of “the house on the hill” as statehouse is christened by the 4th estate.  Unfortunately, she is a Kikuyu, and if some Kenyans had an issue with a Kikuyu presidency in 2007,  it can only be worse now.

It is to be noted here that Martha Karua has not exhibited that malady that afflict most Kenyan politicians: tribalism( negative ethnicity). She can’t  even lay claim to a “tribal voting block” given that most of her tribesmen and women are hell bent on ensuring Uhuru Kenyatta (son of the first president) becomes the 4th president of Kenya. Martha Karua seems to draw her support from across the country. I fear that all this is neither here nor there:Once she becomes popular enough, some of her detractors will just flash the tribal card and all that Kenyans will remember is her Kikuyu heritage.

However, her being a woman might -underline might- be an advantage on her side. Being the most visible woman presidential candidate may make her transcend the tribe issue. Women in Kenya have been on a political enlightenment path of late. They vigorously campaigned for the passage of the new constitution which guaranteed them various rights in all spheres of life including the  political sphere. Women also happen to form about 50% of the registered voters in Kenya and as such their political might behind Martha Karua should not be underestimated.

Having said that, however, we still live in a patriarchal society where “leader”, especially “political leader” connotes “man”. Women and men have routinely voted for men. This sorry state of affairs actually happens in most parts of the world, a case in point being US of A, where a very qualified woman, Hillary Clinton, was kicked to the kerb in favour of a man, Obama.

Chances of women voting for her enmasse are pretty slim, especially if the Kikuyu tag sticks. However, a saving grace in all this might be the fact that women are less tribal than men, and as such, if they are properly motivated, it’d be easier for them to transcend the parochial tribal politics  and elect her.

In fact, if this were to happen, it’d kill two birds with one stone: it’d deal political tribalism a major blow thereby uniting Kenyans, and it’d start us in the long journey to real gender equality.

As I’ve always put it, Gender inequality is a function of power differential, and real power is in politics, where policy decisions are made.   Once we have many women in politics, the term “leader” would start gradually gaining the hue of “person” rather than exclusively  man. More women in politics would also lead to gender-balanced legislation.

By the bye, it’s noteworthy  that women leadership in the corporate world will always lag behind political leadership. Given that Leadership leadership is mainly perception, if women cannot be seen as leaders in politics, the most visible form of leadership, they’ll always have it hard going convincing managers in their places of work of their potential as leaders. Most managers in the corporate world are men,and not because women cannot be leaders.

I’m held between a hard place and a rock when it comes to Martha Karua’s presidency. On the one hand, and as one of the many enlightened members of the Kikuyu community, I know that another Kikuyu presidency is not a very good idea. I know, from experience,that a presidency only benefits the president and his friends. I’d have adviced Martha Karua, and indeed all the other Kikuyu presidential candidates to take a break for about two terms. This would convince everyone in Kenya that their unhealthy fixation with the presidency is misplaced. It’d also help the country to, heal all these ethnic divisions wrought to us by presidency.

On the other hand, I recognize the many indirect benefits that might accrue to our young daughters in terms of women-leader role models courtesy of Martha Karua’s presidency.

In Martha Karua’s candidature   the hundred shilling question remains: what will win, gender or tribe?