Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Until we confront poll injustices, nothing will ever hold us together

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The effects of the March “handshake” between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are still unknown except that it calmed tensions substantially. It is easy to bask in this calmness and assume things are “normal,” and the economy is all ready to take off.   That will be a grievous mistake. Part of the calmness is the shock within the bigger part of Kenya disaffected and angry for decades of election theft, marginalisation, graft and repression. That angry part is still undecided whether the handshake was a betrayal and selling out of their hopes by Mr Odinga, or whether it meant…
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Despite decades of education, sensitization, FGM is yet to go away

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A few weeks ago, I met the outstanding Jaha Dukereh, a young Gambian activist who is changing minds and laws as she campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC), which is prevalent in Gambia, many parts of Africa, some parts of Asia and in the Middle East. Still only in her twenties, Jaha has not only accomplished some major feats, she has also been celebrated and honoured, and is the subject of a fascinating documentary called “Jaha’s Promise.” She was mutilated as a baby, then sent off at 15 to marry a Gambian man in New…
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We must fix IEBC to avoid being the laughing stock on electoral contests

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It is amazing how the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seems adept at repeating its own negative history. And frustrating that we never seem to learn from history, even as recently as 2013! There is no doubt that the 2013 elections were a mess and a façade. The Supreme Court made a disastrous ruling at the time endorsing the results, perhaps because they were fooled by the scrutiny delivered by then Chief Registrar, or perhaps because they did not bother to read the entire pleadings before them, relying instead on summaries made for them by assistants and on oral…
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Analytica has shown what Jubilee, diplomats stand for

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The exposè by the UK’s Channel 4 on the underhand shenanigans of Cambridge Analytica (CA) was brilliant.  A lot of time has gone into investigating the company that has been involved in election manipulations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Kenya and other countries.  The admissions, on camera, of the company’s role in our elections of 2013 and 2017 were especially interesting. SHEEPISH In early 2017, there were rumours that Jubilee (or the Executive on its behalf) hired had CA to assist it in the elections.  The rumours were denied, but after the Channel 4 exposè, it was gratifying…
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It’s not personal, human rights defenders side with underdogs

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There is this pervasive but false narrative that suggests that people working in human rights and social justice — whether in NGOs, social movements or the media — must always be neutral or balanced in their critiques of violations and in their analyses. That is hogwash. Human rights and social justice is about speaking truth to power, and about understanding the power structures so as to denounce and hold accountable those wielding power.  Human rights, in fact, are about focusing on the underdog and working to turn the power paradigm upside-down. PEACE “Balance” is not about a false equivalency between…
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Opposition shouldn’t take eyes of ultimate goal: A just society

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The Jubilee regime would like nothing better than for the opposition and the angry half of Kenya to focus on 2022, and to see the ongoing commotion in Nasa continue as different individuals turn their attention to 2022. Why? Because preoccupation with tribe, personalities, and whose turn it is to contest in 2022 means we relegate the critical issues of inclusion, and electoral justice and reforms to the periphery. Meaning then that Jubilee can pretend there is normalcy, bolstering its low legitimacy.  Moreover, it can then also focus on its internal wrangles and machinations, which it is unable to do…
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