Kenyatta victory: Defiance to Western affirmation
miracles and underworld supernatural happenings in Zimbabwe now border on the ridiculous, and the sooner the country wakes up from this superstition stupor the better for the name of human civilisation and for the dignity of Africans in the 21st century.
But there is a shared feeling of relief across the Kenyan population after the conclusion of last week’s presidential election. This time Kenya did not burn — no images of barbaric Africa with victims of political violence being ferried to surgical rooms with spears and arrows stuck into their skulls. We saw these kind of images in December 2007, and the use of traditional weapons between the clashing political rivals painted Africa as a backward continent struggling to transit into civilised democracy — perhaps the same way it makes civilised people across the planet raucously laugh when they hear of Zimbabwean young men that pretend to be prophets of God with powers to create babies and cash from thin air — or weird counter claims of satanic powers that purportedly turn school kids into baboons, or any other such primitive nonsense.
At the conclusion of the election in Kenya, there were no inflammatory statements this time around. After losing to outgoing President Mwai Kibaki in 2007, Raila Odinga was asked by a BBC correspondent to restrain his supporters and he responded, “I refuse to be asked to give the Kenyan people an anaesthetic so that they can be raped.”
That was a tacit encouragement to the violent rioters, and Odinga is lucky not to be among those later indicted by the ICC for playing key roles in the violence that killed 1 200 people.
At the height of the political clashes the then Lands Minister, Kivutha Kibwana, said about Raila Odinga’s supporters: “It is becoming clear that these well-organised acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing were well planned, financed and rehearsed by the Orange Democratic Movement leaders prior to the general elections.”
This time Odinga complained that the election he lost to Uhuru Kenyatta “lacks integrity,” but he quickly called for “calm, tolerance and peace.” It would appear like the people of Kenya have learnt that violence does not pay, and as one Kenyan said to the BBC’s Karen Allen, there has been a “revolution in Kenya’s political maturity but not a revolution in the leadership.”
While young Kenyans are celebrating the election of the country’s youngest leader ever, the losing candidate Odinga seems to lack the maturity to concede defeat — or the decency to accept the verdict of the Kenyan people on his political fate. This time he seems to be licking his wounds all by himself — with no solidarity message even from his ally Morgan Tsvangirai.
The court challenge announced by Odinga might simply be a gimmick to conjure up solidarity so he can retain the leadership of his party on a sympathy vote, or a mere face-saving tactic to exit the political scene with the image of a robbed gallant fighter. From a legal perspective, the challenge looks badly compromised by the fact that Odinga simply does not have the numbers.
Francis Eshitemi, an Odinga supporter from Kibera, conceded that it was clear his candidate had lost in a free and fair election. He said: “The problem is that Raila doesn’t have the numbers. There were a few irregularities, but the gap between Raila and Uhuru is big.”
A Kenyan academic resident in Australia, Charles Okumu, had this to say: “The ethnic implications for the Kikuyu-Kalenjin-Meru alliance that gave Kenyatta and Ruto victory are huge and very significant. It is indisputable that these three ethnic groups easily make up about half of Kenya’s population, and the ‘we stand with our own’ sentiment was quite evident in the campaign leading to this election.”
Mr Okumu added: “Apart from the numerical advantage of this coalition, it must be credited to the coalition leaders that they did an excellent job of mobilising their supporters for both voter registration and for turning out to vote on the election day. Raila Odinga lacked in this respect.”
Another Odinga supporter, Isaac Khayiya, was wary of violence. He said: “This time we want post-election peace, not war. We will be the ones to suffer if there is violence. For them, Uhuru, Ruto and Odinga — they have security and they are rich.” And in comes the quandary of the West — the dilemma the West faces after their sponsored candidate, Raila Odinga, was defeated by about one million votes. Kenyatta, the ICC-indicted candidate that the West so wished to be the loser, was delivered a solid mandate by the Kenyan people, and that reality is a bitter pill to swallow for Western policymakers, let alone for the sponsors of the Kenyan ICC cases. The ICC indictment hugely boosted Kenyatta’s profile.
However paper-thin his victory margin might be described, Uhuru Kenyatta still won the election outright. The result itself shows the defiance of Kenyan people to Western affirmation in the affairs of their country, and the rest of Africa was watching.
The West’s affirmation for the leadership of Zimbabwe is on Morgan Tsvangirai and his Western sponsored-MDC-T, but perhaps it is time the West begins to realise that the financing of election victories in Africa is no longer as straightforward as the United States used to do in Central America in the seventies and the eighties.
Like Odinga proved to be a worthless leader as Prime Minister of Kenya under a coalition government with Kibaki’s party, Morgan Tsvangirai has done worse in proving his lack of leadership depth as Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister in a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party — and there are more chances of the scandalous Tsvangirai losing the vote to the veteran Zimbabwean leader than there ever were for Odinga losing to Kenyatta.
The alliance between Tsvangirai and Odinga can be easily described as camaraderie in confusion.
To the majority of Kenyans the matter of the ICC indictments is viewed as an inconvenience rather than an impediment, just like sanctions against Zimbabwe have rallied the masses on the side of President Mugabe. Those who voted for Uhuru Kenyatta simply do not regard him as a criminal, and to them he is an innocent man facing a smear campaign from a politically motivated international court. It appears both Uhuru and his supporters are confident that it will be easy to have Kenyatta cleared. For Kenyans it was the victory of politics over justice and at The Hague the West will want imperial politics to triumph over justice.
Kenyatta is tremendously influential in Kenya and it can be predicted that a verdict based on the travesty of justice as was seen in the Saddam Hussein conviction would certainly trigger a disastrous mob backlash in Kenya. In the run-up to the election, Johnnie Carsons, the top American envoy to Africa, bullishly warned that “choices have consequences,” and that was widely interpreted as a threat to Kenyans not to vote for Kenyatta.
Clearly the majority of Kenyans have responded by an open “game on” gesture, and the whole world waits curiously to see Carsons’ threatened consequences.
Carson’s predecessor, Jendayi Frazer, has already rubbished her successor’s utterances, saying the statement was “reckless and irresponsible,” adding, “Kenyatta knows that he needs the United States, and the United States knows it needs Kenya. While it might be awkward, there won’t be a significant change in our policy stance toward Kenya or theirs towards us.”
In addition, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Kenyan people.” In reiterating that the ICC indictment has no effect on his capacity to do his job, Kenyatta has also urged “the international community to respect the will of Kenyans,” and he has called on the West to recognise “the sovereignty” of Kenya.
The indictment of Kenyatta has rallied Kenyan citizens to the side of their new leader — in total defiance to the expectation of the West. This is precisely because the ICC stands as a discredited politically motivated court whose sole focus is on the continent of Africa.
Since its establishment in July 2002 the ICC has indicted 30 people and they are all from the African continent. Of these, 10 are fugitives, one is dead, 9 are either on trial or pre-trial, 4 have been arrested, one has been acquitted, 3 have had their charges dismissed and one has been convicted, and that is Thomas Lubanga of the DRC, who has since appealed.
All this is despite the fact that the illegal Iraq invasion happened almost a year after the ICC had been instituted, or that the drone bombings of Afghanistan civilians still goes on unabated, or that the deadly and ruthless Nato grazing down of Sirte in the lead-up to the murdering of Muammar Gaddafi was fully televised for the world’s full viewing.
The ICC has no political motivation to investigate any of these Western-inflicted atrocities, and that alone is enough enragement to rally Kenyans around their own leaders they perceive to be victims of this egregious conspiracy.
Ayo Johnson, the director of View Point Africa, had this to say: “Many Africans have lost faith in the ICC and view it as targeting African leaders and failing to discharge its justice among non-African leaders.” He added: “Kenya sent a loud message to the ICC — don’t interfere.” In what seems to be a strong affirmation of African resentment for the motives of the ICC, senior lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi wrote in the newspaper The Nation that the Kenyatta-Ruto victory “must be seen as a slap in the face of sponsors of the ICC”.
Britain committed about US$25 million to the Kenyan election, and the stakes are quite high for the former colonial power. The top five Kenyan corporations are British owned, and there is a strategic military base where British soldiers are sent before deployment to Afghanistan. These cannot be abandoned easily and certainly will not.
The United States considers Kenya a central part of its military strategy in East Africa, especially when it comes to the anti-terror efforts targeted at Somalia.
The United States should not exactly worry too much about the ICC status of Kenyatta, if only the country was principled enough to respect its own rejection of the relevance and usefulness of the court.
The US has not only refused to be a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC but has vastly mobilised against the work of the ICC by arm-twisting weaker states to exempt its citizens in their commitment to the ICC.
Kenya has brought to the fore the dilemma of peace versus justice. Those that say the result of the election must be upheld to keep peace in the country now face the prospect of being labelled rule of law traitors, while those who favour the route of the ICC idea of justice risk the label peace traitors.
Kenyan patriotism has been put on trial as well, and it is hard to believe the ICC can thwart the patriotic resolve of a defiant people. It is highly likely that the ICC will drop the charges against Kenyatta and his co-accused in a show trail to save the face of the West.
Hardly after Kenyatta’s victory the ICC dropped its charges against Francis Muthaura — the president-elect’s co-accused. For once the people of Africa seem to be determining global affairs.
Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia. Feedback at [email protected] or visit www.wafawarovawrites.com