Gatharas World

Gatharas World

19 January 2018 » Gatharas World

Eric Kiraithe, must really be well paid. Being the official spokesman of the Kenyan Government, is, in the words of Jerry Maguire, “an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege” that I’m sure he will never fully tell us about. We got a glimpse of what the job entails when the government sent him out this week to defend the indefensible: US President Donald Trump’s description of Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries” and his declared preference for immigrants from Northern...

12 January 2018 » Gatharas World

In his piece in the Daily Nation, Roy Gachuhi speaks of how the failure to build strong institutions in Kenyan sport has left even the most successful teams vulnerable to the financial shocks caused by the withdrawal of a major sponsor. He is referencing the troubles caused by sports betting firm SportPesa’s pulling all its sponsorship of local and national teams following the failure of its legal challenge against the government’s move to raise taxes on betting profits.  It is a move that may...

05 January 2018 » Gatharas World

Kenyans can be amazing in their self-contradictions. Take matters death, for example. When our politicians pass on, they are immediately raptured, in the popular imagination, into a heavenly pantheon and cleansed of all earthly sin. Not so regular folk.Following the spike in road crashes in December which have claimed over 200 lives, many have not been shy about placing the blame on those who have perished, either labeling drivers drunk, undisciplined or careless, or branding passengers as...

02 December 2017 » Gatharas World

Africans a-liberate ZimbabweI'n'I a-liberate Zimbabwe.So sang the late, great, Jamaican reggae star, Bob Marley in 1979, just a year before the country was finally won its independence from white rule. Today, with Robert Mugabe forced to resign as President after being fired by his party and with Zimbabwe inaugurating a new leader, the questions many will ask is whether this is another moment of liberation – only this time liberation from the erstwhile liberator of 1980- and what a post-Mugabe...

04 November 2017 » Gatharas World

Two elections in two months has not settled Kenya’s political crisis. But the impasse is not really about who will sit in State House. It’s a deeper question: it’s about who owns Kenya – its citizens or a historically entrenched political elite. President, Uhuru Kenyatta, won the second edition easily after his main opponent, Raila Odinga, withdrew from the race citing the inability of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to carry out a credible poll. In fact, the reason the...

01 September 2017 » Gatharas World

Kenyans are given to bouts of euphoria. Once ranked as the most optimistic people in the world, it is a society almost congenitally programmed to look on the bright side of life and to seek out silver linings in even the darkest of clouds. It is famously the land of “Hakuna Matata”, which as anyone who’s watched Disney’s the Lion King can recite, is “a problem-free philosophy”.Our irrational exuberance is once again bubbling up to surface in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict that annulled...

31 August 2017 » Gatharas World

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made” is a quip regularly and mistakenly attributed to Otto von Bismarck, the famous Prussian statesman and architect of German unification. However, the Iron Chancellor, who died in 1898, was not associated with the quote until the 1930s. In fact it was the American lawyer-poet, John Godfrey Saxe, otherwise famous for publicizing the ancient Indian parable about Blind Men of Hindustan and The Elephant, who more inelegantly said: "Laws...

24 August 2017 » Gatharas World

David Ndii is at it again. In the aftermath of the election, he has revived talk of his incendiary proposal for divorce. Basically, he postulates that Kenyan ethnic communities are in “an abusive marriage” and if they cannot come to an accommodation, they need to consider going their separate ways. Despite being one of Kenya’s foremost public intellectuals, he is demonized by many in the ruling establishment and among their rabid supporters.Although the proposal far preceded the elections, Ndii...

20 August 2017 » Gatharas World

In Francis Imbuga’s 1976 play, Betrayal in the City, the Kenyan playwright and literature scholar describes life in the fictitious, dystopian, post-colonial state of Kafira. One of the characters, a university don jailed for speaking his mind: "We have killed our past and are busy killing our future". As I write this, Kenya is busy killing its future. Once again, a disputed presidential election has put the country on edge. After a week of building tension and deserted streets and people...

18 August 2017 » Gatharas World

Another election. Another failure of systems. Another dispute, another anxiety laden wait. Another bout of violence. The routine has become depressingly familiar. Over the past week, Kenya has been at a standstill, holding her breath as votes were counted, announcements made and politicians bickered over the results, praying these would not summon the spectre of 2008. Kenyan presidential elections have always been contentious - a legacy of our history dictatorship. Within a decade of...

26 July 2017 » Gatharas World

I am a big fan of Game of Thrones, the American fantasy drama television series centering on the struggle by various political dynasties to succeed to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms in the fictional land of Westeros. Now in its seventh season, the various plot twists and turns, the rise and fall of the fortunes of characters keeps me glued to the TV whenever it’s on. Missing any of the weekly episodes, or even having to wait months for the next season to start is an anathema. In a way,...

13 July 2017 » Gatharas World

Last week, I wrote about our propensity as Kenyans to bury our heads in the sand when confronted with ugly realities. Many have thus continued to either defend or condemn David Ndii for his prediction that Kenya would burn if President Uhuru Kenyatta was elected in a sham election but there has, sadly, been relatively little discussion of how the “burning” can be avoided. If we were to lift up our heads, we would see that the situation may be dire, but, regardless of the election, violence,...

06 July 2017 » Gatharas World

Let's get one thing straight. Whatever happens on or after August 8, Kenya will not have peace.Regardless of whether either it is Uhuru Kenyatta or his main rival, Raila Odinga, who is declared the winner of the presidential election; whether the election is stolen or is free, fair and credible; whether people stay in the streets or go out to protest the result; the country will not know peace. We will not have peace because we have not earned it, because we do not deserve it."Peace is not...

05 July 2017 » Gatharas World

Dr David Ndii is once again at the center of a public storm. On Sunday, the renowned and outspoken economist  tweeted a quote from his controversial March 2016 articletitled Kenya is a cruel marriage, it’s time we talk divorce. In the piece, he correctly observes that every election in the multiparty era in which an incumbent President is defending his seat has been violent. He then warns that “if Uhuru Kenyatta is declared winner in another sham election, this country will burn”. It this quote...

30 June 2017 » Gatharas World

Kenya is today truly in the grip of election fever. Political temperatures are rising, the economy is feeling lethargic, shenanigans at the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission are causing severe headaches and hateful political speeches are inducing nausea.Why do we endure this? Every five years, we are harangued into registering for the vote and into casting our ballots on voting day. Many commentators go so far as to declare your vote to be your voice and that a failure to vote is...

04 June 2017 » Gatharas World

In the coming days, especially as we approach August, we will be inundated with politicians each seeking our endorsement and more importantly our vote. We will be encouraged, harangued and shamed into exercising our democratic right to wake up incredibly early, endure frustratingly long queues in order to mark a bunch of ballots and toss them into a bin.But what exactly will we be voting for? What should we be looking for in this campaign period? Ideally it should be a choice between competing...

22 May 2017 » Gatharas World

Over the past few weeks, I've been obsessing with a single question. Why do our politicians dance? At every political function nowadays, it has become customary for them to do a jig before addressing the crowds. Where did that come from? When did it start? And, more importantly, why do they do it?One thing's for sure. Boogieing politicians are a relatively recent phenomenon. It used to be that we danced for them. In the days of my youth, no political function would begin before a troupe of "...

01 May 2017 » Gatharas World

Last week I was invited to what was described as a “Global Think In” event, basically a series of conversations between academics on Columbia University’s New York campus and scholars and participants in nine Columbia Global Centers in cities around the world. The question we were asked to ponder was: What issue relating to the changing world do you find most urgently pressing in your region?Now the world is changing in many, quite drastic ways which pose serious challenges to people in Kenya...

15 April 2017 » Gatharas World

Much has been made about the alleged flooding of the Kenyan coast with illegal drugs. President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to stop them and to prosecute all involved in the trade. But like his “war” on alcohol, his stance against illicit drugs is informed less by reasoning and evidence but rather by hysteria.Kenya is not on the brink of a drugs epidemic. As Kalundi Serumaga puts it in an article in The Elephant’s edition on drugs, “ordinary Africans simply do not have enough numerical strength to...

28 February 2017 » Gatharas World

It is now nearly three months since Kenya’s doctors went on strike. The dispute centers on the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement the national government and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union signed in June 2013 and which the latter is insisting must be implemented. The Executive has been at pains to disavow the very agreement it signed and the doctors have had to defend the legality of their strike. The quarrel has caused untold misery in hospitals and drawn in the other arms...

11 February 2017 » Gatharas World

Incumbents losing an election and graciously conceding is not what most associate with the continent, let alone Somalia. By contrast, the Kenyan experience is rather typical. Here, no incumbent President has ever lost an election. Whether by hook but more often by crook, they manage to cling onto either the end of their terms or their lives, whichever came first.But a graceful concession from a losing incumbent is exactly what the world witnessed in the Somali capital on Wednesday. The election...

03 February 2017 » Gatharas World

In the wake of last week’s sacking of a Kenya Defense Forces base in Somalia by the al Shabaab terror group, the Kenyan government’s communications effort have once again come under a spotlight. The country had just marked the first anniversary of a similar attack on another KDF camp in the Somali town of El Adde in which close to two hundred Kenyan soldiers were estimated to have been killed. Estimated because the government has never released an official tally of dead, injured and captured....

27 January 2017 » Gatharas World

In an article published on Aljazeera, Solomon Ayele Dersso, a senior legal scholar and an analyst on Africa and African Union affairs, avers that the lesson from Gambia for African countries is that “not only should [the opposition and citizenry] forge unity during elections, but also prepare to work with regional and international bodies for a negotiated exit guaranteeing peaceful transfer of power”. This may be true but the ouster of Yahya Jammeh also has another lesson for the continent’s...

21 January 2017 » Gatharas World

Despite the major changes inaugurated by the 2010 Constitution, the Kenyan Presidency still sits comfortably and unchallenged at the pinnacle of our politics. It is propped up by many of the norms that developed in the last half-century, especially during the dictatorships of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi. Over the period, many looked to the United States for a model of how a powerful Presidency could be constrained. However, since last year, goings on over there have had a distinctly...

08 January 2017 » Gatharas World

Over the last few weeks, the country has been embroiled in an acrimonious and largely inane debate on changes to the country’s elections laws. The controversial revisions to the Elections Act seek to introduce a “complementary mechanism” to the integrated electronic electoral system for identifying voters and transferring results from polling stations to tallying centres. Yet no one knows what this proposed “complementary mechanism” is. It not defined in the law but has been widely interpreted...

30 December 2016 » Gatharas World

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth famously declared 1992 an “annus horribilis”, one which, she said, she wouldn’t look back with undiluted pleasure. For many around the world, 2016 has similarly turned out to be a horrible year. From the deaths of several pop culture icons; to the millions forced to flee senseless killing and destruction in the middle east; to the political earthquakes that were the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the UK, 2016 has been one for the books.For...

16 December 2016 » Gatharas World

Every nation has its foundation myths. The Koreans, for example, have Tan'gun, the scion of a son of the gods and a bear-turned-into-woman who became the first human king of the people of the peninsula. Kenyans are not to be left out. Whenever national holidays roll around, the air is always thick with talk of forefathers and tales of the dreams that supposedly drove them to found the nation. Believing it has always required a little suspension of disbelief. This past week was no different....

09 December 2016 » Gatharas World

This week, the news has understandably been dominated by the countrywide strike by the nation’s health workers. On Monday, doctors and nurses across the land stayed at home in protest at the government’s failure to implement a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2013 that was meant to govern their pay and conditions of service. The strike has thrown an already rickety health system into chaos and contributed to the deaths of several patients and heartbreaking scenes of desperate suffering...

02 December 2016 » Gatharas World

Boniface Mwangi is looking for a job. It may have come as no surprise when, during the launch of his book two weeks ago, he declared he would be running for a Parliamentary seat. But that doesn’t mean we should welcome it with open arms.Over the last few months we have been treated to similar announcements by journalists, clergy and civil society activists. And it is all depressingly reminiscent of 2002 and the dash for elected positions under the National Alliance Rainbow Coalition banner. And...

18 November 2016 » Gatharas World

Trevor Noah, the South African comedian and host of The Daily Show, a popular late-night news satire and talk show in the US, once described Donald Trump as America’s first African President.  In fact, Americans could do worse than look to the continent in general, and Kenya in particular, for a preview of what life under a Trump administration would be like. President-elect Trump and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta have much in common. Both are fabulously wealthy, the children of privilege...

11 November 2016 » Gatharas World

To describe Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s US presidential election as a shocking upset is probably the understatement of the year. It is a seismic political upheaval which will rock, not just the American political system, but the entire edifice of Western liberal democracy, to its core.Coming just months after the Brexit referendum in which citizens of the United Kingdom voted against all expectations to leave the European Union, which has been the lynchpin of that...

05 November 2016 » Gatharas World

“What do you want me to do?”With that statement, two weeks ago President Uhuru Kenyatta seemed to throw his hands up in resignation. The most powerful man in the land claiming to be powerless in the face of the rampant stealing of public resources that has now become the hallmark of his administration.It surely does seem that everything the Jubilee administration touches turns to loot. Few of the projects it has initiated over the last 43 months -from laptops for schoolkids to the Standard...

28 October 2016 » Gatharas World

Kigali is impressive. From its clean streets and new buildings to the ubiquitous sense of safety and order, it is today hailed as a model for capital cities across the continent. Similarly hailed is the Rwandan government, which has transformed the country, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the 1994 genocide into the rising star of Africa.Last week, a network of bloggers on the continent, of which I am a part, was invited to a brainstorming session in Kigali over how to engage in policy...

14 October 2016 » Gatharas World

This Sunday will mark the fifth anniversary of the start of Operation Linda Nchi, Kenya’s surprise invasion of Somalia. By the government’s own admission, the October 2011 deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces across the porous border had been long in the planning. A spate of kidnappings of tourists and aid workers in the preceding months by armed gangs based in Somalia, which the state subsequently blamed on the Al Shabaab terror group and which laid waste to the lucrative tourism industry,...

07 October 2016 » Gatharas World

This week, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, James Macharia, unveiled the latest government weapon in the war to, in the hackneyed words beloved by our media, “bring sanity to our roads” -instant fines. He gazetted a new list of list of “minor traffic violations” and the corresponding penalties to be paid on the spot without subjecting the motorist to the horror that are Kenyan courts.For many motorists, any chance to avoid spending interminable hours at the traffic courts for a 30-second...

30 September 2016 » Gatharas World

Ezekiel Mutua is at it again. The head of the Kenya Film Classification Board has developed a fondness for showing off the perks that come with his job. In April, he took to social media to boast about using an airport’s VIP lounge and flying business class.This week, he posted pictures of his diplomatic passport (which, to the schadenfreudic glee of many tweeps, an embarrassed government has since ordered to him to surrender) on his Facebook account to brag that he had received a visa to visit...

23 September 2016 » Gatharas World

It was a strange incident by any description. According to the police, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US, three women entered the Mombasa Central police station pretending to  report a stolen mobile phone. The police say one jumped over the counter and assaulted officers with a knife before dousing herself in petrol and setting herself alight. The others, one of whom was said to have a suicide vest, threw petrol bombs. All three were shot at killed at the scene and within a...

16 September 2016 » Gatharas World

I have a theory about why our political parties engage in obscene shows of wealth in the midst of the dire poverty that pervades Kenya. In a country where politics has been reduced to an eating competition, politicians must demonstrate to their supporters that they are capable of laying on the buffet. From the reported 2 billion that the Jubilee Party spent on its coming out party to the fleet of swanky new buses that CORD has unveiled in Mombasa ahead of its ten-year anniversary, the political...

09 September 2016 » Gatharas World

Of all the revelations that have come out of the inquisitions into the fiasco that accompanied Kenyan authorities’ preparations for the Rio Olympics, perhaps none is as significant as the fact that nearly Sh2.2 million in tax payer money was used to book rooms aboard a cruise ship for use by President Uhuru Kenyatta.A cruise ship. Sh2.2 million. Let that sink in.The figure was part of a Sh5 million that was wasted on rooms for politicians and bureaucrats that were left unused while athletes and...

02 September 2016 » Gatharas World

The resignation of Philip Kinisu as head of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission caps off yet another week during which corruption and the faltering war waged against it have dominated newspaper headlines. In the aftermath of the Olympic games, ironically Kenya’s most successful ever judging by the number of medals our athletes gathered, revelations of theft and joyriding have demonstrated that Kenyan accomplishment comes in spite, rather than because, of their government.Yet listening to...

26 August 2016 » Gatharas World

“Even a dog would have been elected” lamented the late KANU stalwart, J.J. Kamotho, in 1992 following the rout in the former Central and Nairobi provinces of the then ruling party in the first multiparty elections. In both municipal and Parliamentary elections, pretty much anyone who stood on a Ford-Asili ticket won. Such was the revulsion with which KANU was held that it seemingly did not matter whether alternative candidates had credible visions of their own.In the near-quarter century since...

19 August 2016 » Gatharas World

In July, on a short visit to the UK, I took a 200 kilometre drive on the M40 from London to Birmingham. Travelling through the English countryside, one is treated to lots of greenery but not much else. In fact, for one used to Kenyan roads, this is perhaps the most remarkable thing about travelling on the motorway. For two hours, apart from my fellow motorists and their passengers, there was little sign of life. No towns, no cyclists, no bus stops, no pedestrians strolling beside it or trying...

12 August 2016 » Gatharas World

Earlier this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta summoned the press corps to State House to relay a message to the nation. However, he was addressing Kenyans, not in his capacity as the country’s CEO, but as a leader of one of 14 political parties affiliated with the Jubilee coalition.  The big news was, of course, that the parties had agreed to merge.The choice of State House, the seat of the Presidency, as venue for what is plainly a partisan event was alarming. The constitution describes the...

05 August 2016 » Gatharas World

Last Sunday, the Daily Nation bravely shone a spotlight on the gambling craze that is sweeping the nation. Sports betting has taken the country by storm. Since 2013 when the first online sports betting company, SportPesa, was registered, the Betting Control and Licensing Board has awarded similar licenses to nearly 30 other bookmakers. The industry today has a turnover of Ksh 2.1 billion which is expected to nearly triple over the next three years.Yet, as with all gambling, this is not just a...

29 July 2016 » Gatharas World

Last week’s deportation of famed 60-year-old Congolese rumba star, Koffi Olomide, after he was filmed apparently kicking a female member of his band at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has once again highlighted both the power and limitations of social media in Kenya. A video of the incident went viral on the internet precipitating a furious reaction from the ever vocal Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) demanding action be taken against the singer. His arrest and deportation the next day was...

22 July 2016 » Gatharas World

It came as no big surprise. “I will not resign”, declared the new chair of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Philip Kinisu, regurgitating what has become a stock phrase in the vocabulary of all Kenyan public officials. Barely six months after he was appointed to head the country’s premier public ethics agency, Kinisu has been accused of ethical violations of his own, after his family-owned firm was found to be transacting business with entities he was meant to be investigating.There is...

09 July 2016 » Gatharas World

Kenya media’s coverage of the visit by Benjamin Netanyahu, the first by a sitting Israeli prime minister in 30 years, has predictably focused on the “goodies” that he was supposedly bringing. There has been lots of discussion of what the country stands to gain from cooperation with Israel in areas ranging from security to agriculture but relatively little about the price Israel would extract for such cooperation.It is undeniable that the Israelis have much to offer. As we have been constantly...

02 July 2016 » Gatharas World

The wave of unrest afflicting secondary schools in Kenya has understandably elicited much public concern. Many have chimed in with their take on what is causing it, with most blaming panic over exams, drug abuse, an oppressive school environment, wayward parenting and incompetent government officials. Some have even suggested that the abolition of corporal punishment is to blame. Given that this problem is not new, it is rather curious that there seems to be such confusion over its causes....

25 June 2016 » Gatharas World

This past week, national attention has focused on 8 MPs charged with contravening hate speech and incitement laws, who suffered the rare misfortune of being denied bail and ended up spending all of three nights in jail. After their release, they confessed that the ordeal had precipitated a change of heart and that they are now transformed into paragons of tolerance and brotherly love. If only it were that easy!Ethnic incitement is an ugly beast that rears its head in every election cycle and is...

18 June 2016 » Gatharas World

Every once in a while, Kenyans love to get into a tiff over the preponderance of hateful and bigoted messaging that forms the subtext of our national politics. While the idea of the nation as, in David Ndii’s words, “a marriage of tribes”, of ethnicities that compete for chunks of a “national cake”, appears to be taken for granted, the seemier side of that supposed competition intermittently captures national attention. This week, the news has been dominated by the arrest and incarceration of 8...

10 June 2016 » Gatharas World

On the eve of Madarka Day, CNN’s Robyn Kriel dropped bombshell. Her investigations had revealed that the Kenya government was engaged in covering up the truth surrounding the deaths of at least 141 Kenyan troops in El Adde, Somalia. The story made headlines around the world. However, here, where it should have mattered most, it was mostly ignored by the local press.Why? In January when the slaughter happened, it was on the front page of every newspaper. But soon thereafter, it became clear that...

03 June 2016 » Gatharas World

Earlier this week, on the eve of Madaraka Day, history paid Kenya another visit. Online photos of CORD principals, Raila Odinga and Moses Wetangula in a jovial meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, at State House, Nairobi caused a bit of a stir. But it shouldn’t have. As I explained last week, we have been here before.Political crises have been a near-constant feature of Kenya’s post-colonial history, and especially since the agitation for electoral and...

27 May 2016 » Gatharas World

Kenya today finds itself in the throes of a crisis. In the run up to next year’s scheduled general election, weekly opposition protests and the subsequent brutal crackdown, have deeply polarized the country and left at least three people dead and many others, including police officers, wounded. Though now suspended, a threat to restart the demonstrations if dialogue doesn’t happen still hangs in the air. But beyond the rhetoric, the teargas and the scenes of bloody confrontation, this is above...

20 May 2016 » Gatharas World

When a building in Nairobi’s Huruma estate came tumbling down three weeks ago, killing more than 50 people, national and county government officials wasted no time identifying who the culprits were. On the morning following the collapse, President Uhuru Kenyatta, taking a break from preparations to set fire to the country’s ivory stockpile to tour the site of the Huruma tragedy, reportedly ordered the arrest of the owner of the building. County officials were also quick to declare that the...

20 May 2016 » Gatharas World

It was, by any measure, a vicious assault. At least 15 people were hospitalized following Monday’s attack on protestors and bystanders by police during demonstrations meant to press for the ouster of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission officials. The scenes beamed around the world of citizens being chased down, clobbered and left to lick their wounds in the street, were a throwback to an era many had assumed was behind us.Public attention has focused on the particularly brutal...

13 May 2016 » Gatharas World

One would be forgiven for thinking the Kenyan government has something against sheltering the poor. The last two weeks have displayed some reflexive, ill-advised and even callous decision making that has left hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens facing the prospect of enduring nights out in the cold and refugees being pressed back into the arms of the very oppressors they had fled from in the first place.Last week, I noted that on his visit to the site of the collapsed building...

06 May 2016 » Gatharas World

As I write this, rescue operations are still ongoing at the site of a collapsed 7-storey building in Huruma where at least 37 people lost their lives, and 136, including a seven month-old baby girl, have been pulled out of the rubble. 70 are still listed as missing.Sadly, such building collapses are far from a rare occurrence in Kenya. According to one study, between 2006 and 2014, 17 buildings collapsed, killing 84 people and injuring nearly 300. These disasters are all predictably followed by...

29 April 2016 » Gatharas World

Burning ivory is nothing new. Since the President Daniel Arap Moi lit a 20ft pile of tusks at the Nairobi National Park in April 1989, many others around the world have followed suit, some choosing to crush rather than burn. Moi’s successors as President have also maintained a tradition of occasionally staging ivory burns to send a message that ivory has no value beyond the life of an elephant.Tomorrow, President Uhuru Kenyatta will do him one better, tagging not just the second burn of his...

22 April 2016 » Gatharas World

Kenyans do love their sports. In fact, little appears to weld them together more tightly than shared support for a team or an athlete.  In August 2008, barely 6 months after the inter-communal slaughter that followed disputed elections claimed over 1300 lives and brought the country to the brink of civil war, Kenyans were united in cheering the country’s athletes at the Olympic games in China. Today, most weekends echo with war cries as the various soccer tribes meet up to do battle online and...

15 April 2016 » Gatharas World

As is the case with other nations, the Kenyans memorial landscape is littered with moments of heroic triumph and unspeakable horror. Within its contours, one will find the anniversaries of murders and massacres as well as achievement and acclaim. Today marks the three-month anniversary of a terrible tragedy -  the slaughter of nearly 200 Kenyan soldiers by the Al Shabaab terror group at El Adde in southern Somalia. Two weeks ago we observed another tearful memorial for a remarkably similar...

08 April 2016 » Gatharas World

Now that the remaining Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court have been terminated (at least for now), there will undoubtedly be much debate on who the winners and losers are. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, were already ahead on that score even before their cases collapsed. It is almost certain that without the ICC indictments they would not be in power today. Now, not only do they not need to worry about the Court for the foreseeable future, they also are, by...

31 March 2016 » Gatharas World

Gabriel Nderitu wants to fly. The 49 year old  amateur airplane builder from Othaya has become an annual fixture on our TV screens as he tries out yet another of his contraptions that stubbornly won’t get off the ground. By 2014, Gabriel had reportedly spent a million shillings on his frustrated passion. And though we can't help but admire his chutzpah and determination, it is curious that over a century after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, Gabriel, and several others like him across...

24 March 2016 » Gatharas World

Thomas Hobbes, the 17th Century English philosopher, used the term "Leviathan" to refer to a government, inspired by the Biblical description in the Book of Job, Chapter 41 of a huge sea-creature possessing tremendous strength and power. While Hobbes obviously admired the Leviathan’s power, it is clear that it was a creature to be feared. “Any hope of subduing him is false” warns the Bible.In Kenya, taming this beast has been a consistent preoccupation of pro-independence and human rights...

07 March 2016 » Gatharas World

Kenyan media is going through a torrid time. Once described as one of the most vibrant and critical on the continent, it is today looking like little more than a shadow of its former self. From the firing, reportedly at the behest of the state, of editors and journalists at the country’s two leading newspapers, The Daily Nation and The Standard, to the anodyne and superficial coverage of governmental malfeasance, media in Kenya appears to have raised the white flag of surrender.It must be...

17 February 2016 » Gatharas World

The reactions to the International Criminal Court’s Appeal Chamber’s ruling last week is a good example of the doublespeak that has come to characterize our politics. The Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly, Hon Aden Duale, who for the last two years has been advocating a Kenyan and African withdrawal from the Rome Statute, declared on Twitter that “civil societies and their financiers have been ashamed and the rule of law prevailed”. He even went further to say that “the 14th...

27 January 2016 » Gatharas World

Ezekiel Mutua undoubtedly has a knack for self-promotion. When I first met him as Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists more than a decade ago, I could tell he was a man of no small ambition. Today, as head of the Kenya Film Classification Board, he has found a way to insert the previously obscure regulator into the limelight. However, the way he has gone about it in complete disregard of what the law says about his organization’s mandate. The laws he claims give the KFCB powers...

23 January 2016 » Gatharas World

Until the lion learns to speak, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. The truth of this statement is today being demonstrated in the aftermath of the devastating attack by the Al Shabaab terror group on the AMISOM base at El Adde in southern Somalia.With over Kenyan 100 troops feared dead, this is turning out to be not just a tactical victory, but a propaganda coup as well for the Al Qaeda linked militants. Panicked Generals in both AMISOM and the KDF have effectively shut down...

21 January 2016 » Gatharas World

In the wake of the Al Shabaab attack on a base manned by the Kenyan contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in the south Somalia town of El Adde, many of our returning soldiers, as well as the many who died, are being hailed as heroes. On social and mainstream media it has become de rigueur to declare love for the Kenya Defence Forces, to hail their bravery and martyrdom. Questioning the details of the incident only invites appeals to national mourning or accusations of...

01 December 2015 » Gatharas World

Pastor Victor Kanyari is a name that will be instantly familiar to many Kenyans. He rocketed to national infamy when he was caught on camera relieving thousands of faithful of their hard-earned money under the pretext of interceding with the Almighty on their behalf. The scam asked gullible people of faith to “plant seed” by contributing about $3 to his “ministry” in return for which they could expect miraculous answers to their prayers. Pastor Kanyari was caught on camera recording fake call-...

26 November 2015 » Gatharas World

"Show me a man's friends, and I'll tell you who he is," said American essayist, lecturer, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. And this week, the Jubilee administration has shown us who its friends are. “Civil society, media and leaders from across our political social spectrum have come together and made their views known and in the hearts of every Kenyan we know that we must win this war [on corruption]” declared President Uhuru Kenyatta when welcoming Pope Francis on his maiden visit to Africa. At...

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