Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Trump’s snide remark and why Kenya has no problem with it

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A lot has been said and written about Donald Trump’s recent ‘shit-hole’ comment. The Jubilee regime, in a bizarre defence of Mr Trump, has stated that it has no issue with the comment because Kenya was not directly mentioned. That is not surprising given its unspoken views of Kenyans as expressed in the way it kills us extra-judicially and willy-nilly when we protest against it, or when we welcome leaders they do not like at the airport. And if you are poor and accused of even petty theft, your life means nothing to the regime. Any regime that so blatantly steals…
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Without electoral reforms, the 2022 result is already known

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Here is free advice to those seriously contemplating running for the Presidency in 2022. To Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Amason Kingi, Hassan Joho and Gideon Moi: If there is nothing done on electoral justice, uprooting and remaking the IEBC — from staff to commissioners — and ensuring that electoral laws are fair, just and promote competition, you have absolutely no chance.  You will waste time, money and energy for a cause that is already decided. This is not about who has what votes and what sort of coalition you can cobble together. In the current scheme of things, actual numbers…
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Our problems will not be solved by the many cosmetic changes

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The toll from road accidents in December has been horrific, with news reports chronicling the numbers of those killed, the horrendous injuries and the resultant traffic snarl-ups. Each dead person is a parent, a child, or a sibling of someone, and the impact of the hundreds killed is massive. Kenya already has one of the worst records in road safety, and December only served to confirm our ranking. We have wringed our hands in despair, and offered prayers for comfort for those killed and injured. And we have sought reasons for this wanton loss of life. Yet the answers are…
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Achieving real freedom just got harder for opposition activists

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It is often said that Kenya can be frustrating and complicated, but it is never boring. And as we end the year, this saying has proven accurate. For we take one step forward and then two steps back, coming to the brink of real change that we deserve as Kenyans, but never quite getting there. Jubilee Party may feel victorious after this year, but we have not resolved the issues that drag us down as a country, and threaten our stability if not our existence as a nation. In fact, we can say without fear of contradiction that the divisions…
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Only those who bring honour and pride should be celebrated

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Last week I discussed two of the four awardees of the Right Livelihood Award, otherwise known as the alternative Nobel Prize. This week we will look at the remaining two, Yetnebersh Nigussie of Ethiopia and Colin Gonsalves from India. Yetnebersh, a young Ethiopian lawyer, was cited for “working for human rights based on her own experience of being discriminated against coming from a “developing country”, being young, a woman — and blind.  She is fearlessly pushing for women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive education and a vibrant civil society.  EARLY MARRIAGE Nigussie is an outstanding advocate for the rights enshrined in…
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We should be vigilant against environment damage by top firms

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I was privileged to serve on the jury for the Right Livelihood Awards a few months ago. This award, often referred to as the Alternative Nobel, was started by Swedish-German writer and philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull in 1980 after the Nobel Prize committee declined to include environmental rights, and human rights and democracy in its awards categories. Past winners of the awards include our own departed Prof Wangari Maathai in 1984 and the late Dekha Ibrahim in 2007, who both, coincidentally, died in 2011. Prof Maathai was cited for converting “the Kenyan ecological debate into mass action for reforestation.”  There is…
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