Idiocy, freshly-baked idiocy

April 9, 2008

Sijui, in a comment at Ory’s blog says:

One thing I particularly like about the aftermath of the Kenyan election is that the average low income mwananchi fought back, and in my opinion they fought less for their civic freedoms……I think that is obvious by the nature of the blood letting………but more for their naked self interest, as blatantly parochial and regressive as that might be. I now have far more respect for people acting on their suspicions and resentments than the cowardly, complacent and self absorbed ‘middle class’. And I don’t want to make the mistake of painting the ENTIRE Kenyan middle class with the same brush, that would be dishonest and clearly there are many who fought the good fight however my point is, things would not have changed HAD THE VAST MAJORITY of the working class and low income not brandished their pangas.

And yes, Kenya has come to the point where disputes will have to be settled violently. I’m glad the average mwanachi has disavowed the pretense of a stable, functional society. And are dealing with the ethnic, social and political fissures head on, albeit violently and disastrously…..atleast they’re dealing with them and don’t have their head up their arses.

My personal position on all of this is let the chips fall where they may, and let’s all be forced to dealing with the price of stitching back together a disintegrating country.

This is not quite the stupidest thing I’ve heard since the election: competition has been far too stiff for that. But it’s close.

Ignore the blithe assumptions that there’ll be pieces left to pick up if we continue as we have been (evidently, he hasn’t read any Paul Collier or paid careful attention to the way civil wars in Africa proceed); that ethnic violence constitutes an acceptable means of conflict-resolution (regardless of its effectiveness!); or that Kenya was not a stable, functional society.

Turn, instead, to the question of how to get our country back. Kenya already had very low levels of inter-ethnic trust. The recent slaughter guarantees that we will not see even those absurdly low levels for a generation. Inter-ethnic trust is absolutely necessary for rational politics in Kenya; we will not have rational politics in the near future, and quite possibly, during my lifetime. If Sijui’s assumption that the vast majority of working-class people particpated in the ethnic violence is correct, then they deserve nothing but the deepest possible contempt (he does too, for endorsing the violence). The assumption, is in fact false, but that needn’t trouble us here.

The thing to note is the corruption in Sijui’s thought: ethnic hatred and murder as therapy. Welcome to the new Kenya.

(X-posted at KenyaImagine.)

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The Police and Mungiki II

November 28, 2007

There’s a second report out, from the Oscar Foundation this time (no I haven’t heard of them before either), which makes for even more gruesome reading than the first. They claim to have documented 8040 cases of death by execution or torture at the hands of ‘state security agents’ in the five years between August 2002 and August 2007 (page 5). Another 4070 disappeared persons remain unaccounted for. The report is thin on evidence and long on assertion. Still, it is now clear that the Commissioner of Police has a case to answer.


It’s happened to me too.

November 21, 2007

I have put vital documents in the post and lost them. So I have some sympathy for Alistair Darling this morning; still, mislaying the personal details of nearly every child in the UK is some going.


Good-ish news on the trade front

November 16, 2007

Kenya appears to have avoided the GSP, and the East African Community appears to have put off full-scale market liberalisation for 25-years. (BusinessDaily)


The police and Mungiki

November 6, 2007

KNHRC has a report out suggesting that the police have killed nearly 500 young men in the ‘war’ against Mungiki. (I’ve been unable to find the report online, but the Nation, Standard and AllAfrica have stories.) A disturbingly large number – ‘almost all’, according to the Nation – of the victims appear to have been executed by a single gunshot to the back of the head. The distribution of the bodies around various mortuaries is prima facie evidence of a conspiracy to conceal the deaths. KNHRC will, apparently, soon release its final report. Till then, it looks very like the police have engaged in indiscriminate murder.

(Those wishing to learn about Mungiki might begin with Anderson 2002 (draft here), Kagwanja 2003, and Murunga’s 2006, which is a response to Kagwanja 2003.)

UPDATE (07.xi.07): The preliminary report is now online here.


A man who knew how to make a joyful noise

October 19, 2007

Waiyaki wa Hinga

October 7, 2007

One of the stupidest things about ethnicised politics in Kenya is that it’s compelled to falsify history. A really interesting case: the Gikuyu nationalist case for Gikuyu ethnocracy often begins by claiming that Kikuyus fought for freedom; the implication is that no one else did (or that no one else did in such large numbers). The claim may even be defensible, but since c. 100, 000 or so Nandi (Ogot’s figures: can’t be arsed citing) died fighting the Brits around the turn of last century (1895-1905 ish), it’s rubbish. Lots of Gikuyu fought for the colonial govt, or fought for both sides.

The story that’s told about Gikuyu resistance is silly; not only does it require lying about what non-Gikuyu did, it requires falsifying (or ignoring the incoveneient bits of) Gikuyu history. So, OK, the logic of ethnocracy (like prolly any system whatever of rule by an elite) works by finding reasons to exclude the many. My (first, and completely unoriginal) objection is just this: the usual reason advanced by Gikuyu ethnocracy for the exclusion is a blatant, self-deceiving, falsehood.


Let’s invade Congo!

October 7, 2007

Mutuma Mathiu’s plan for rescuing Kenya’s economy. In today’s Nation (Reg’n required.)


Absolutely unimprovable

September 18, 2007

Kilogram weighs less. Kripkeans rejoice. (Sam Liao)


Mission Song review

September 13, 2007

Everything John Le Carré writes has a peculiar quality which is as difficult to convey as it is easy to spot: something rich and thick; the result of his ability to get into the minds of his characters. He doesn’t really manage that in The Mission Song; Red Strangers this is not. Since this psychological acuity is Le Carré’s main attraction, you’d think the book would be crap. Wrong. The plotting is goodish (and informative), the characters are inherently interesting, and I quite enjoyed the sight of a 75-year old author trying several new things at once. Worth several hours of your time.


Gloomy Weather

September 13, 2007

Joe Zawinul, dead yesterday. From the Guardian obit:

Joe Zawinul, who has died aged 75 of cancer, is one of a handful of people who changed the way music sounds. As a composer, jazz keyboardist, bandleader and hit-maker, he put his stamp on five decades of music – through his own bands, Weather Report (co-founded with saxophonist Wayne Shorter) and the Zawinul Syndicate, and also the tunes he wrote for Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis. He had a crucial impact on the sound of what we now call world music, working with Salif Keita and Trilok Gurtu, and championing talents such as Karim Ziad and Richard Bona, whose career took off after a spell in the Syndicate.


Wickedness tried to kill greatness

September 12, 2007

Apartheid – petty and grand – is obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority…The fact that apartheid has been tied up with white supremacy, capitalist exploitation, and deliberate oppression makes the problem much more complex. Material want is bad enough, but coupled with spiritual poverty it kills.

Steve Biko, p. 27-8, I Write What I Like, Bowerdean, 1978.


Tramontate, stelle! All’alba vincerò!

September 6, 2007

Kurz(er) Kurtz

August 28, 2007

I’d managed not to spot that Kurtz and Nicholas Garrigan are quite similar; that is, until G. Paschal Zachary’s post here. I’m suitably shamed.


best pseudonym evaaahh…

August 19, 2007

… is Teary Ennui here.