Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Colonial-era Tactics to Silence Critics Didn’t Work Then, and Won’t Work Now

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I sometimes get emails from readers asking me to suggest solutions to the issues I critically write about, despite the fact that the solutions are embedded in the critiques, directly or indirectly. Thus, for example, when we criticise the policy of collective punishment of Somalis using colonial-era swoops and concentration camp tactics, the obvious solution is to stop these indiscriminate and heavy-handed tactics! Not only is this not effective — as we have seen with continuing terror attacks — but it is also counterproductive, increasing the chances of further radicalisation and extremism. This is not rocket science: These brutal colonial-era…
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The Only Way to End Terrorism is to Address its Causes and Uphold the Law

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News reports state that work on building the 700-kilometre wall between Kenya and Somalia has started. There has been no public procurement, as required, so we don’t know its cost. Now remember that suspect procurements have landed many people on the famous anti-corruption list. Will it now be updated to include the public officers who have authorised these works, which started with the digging of ditches in Kiunga, Lamu? It appears that rule by executive fiat is back, but I can bet there will be no formal document bearing Uhuru Kenyatta’s signature on this deviation from legal procurement. Instead, it…
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To Eliminate Insecurity, We Must Not be Tempted to Take Unlawful Decisions

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First my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the 147 people killed in the terrorist attack in Garissa. The scale of this attack is a warning that we are not out of the woods yet and that we all must do our part to eradicate terrorism in our midst. But dealing with terrorism must and should be part of the war on corruption and impunity. There is no doubt that our messes are all linked up. Corruption not only greases the engine of terrorists, it also creates anger, frustrations and a sense of marginalisation that then perpetuates terrorists’…
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Rot in Police is the Hallmark of Jubilee’s Grand Return to Worst Times of Moi Era

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Last weekend, a friend was involved in an accident in Nairobi. I went to help out, and though the cars were badly damaged, no one was seriously injured. And thank heavens for Steve, Alex and his friend, who were the proverbial Good Samaritans, for protecting my friend from possible mob violence and theft. Kenya still has some good people! But as the police towed the cars to the police station, quite a few onlookers emphatically warned us to ensure that we took all moveable items from the car, including the battery, spare wheel, floor mats, and radio once it arrived…
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Time Running out for Parliament and Jubilee to Salvage their Legacy

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ODM’s chest-thumping over their victory in the Kajiado Central by-election is naïve and short-sighted. Naïve because ODM retained “their” seat, but is newly elected MP, Elijah Memusi, really ODM damu? Mr Memusi joined the party after being denied the JAP nomination and his victory owes much to his personal popularity. Short-sighted because even if Mr Memusi was diehard ODM, would that make a difference given how our parliamentarians behave? The last time we saw such a pitiful group of MPs was after 1988 with the mlolongo selections: It was all about who could parrot the Nyayo tune the loudest. It…
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Kenyan Leaders Should Learn from Chaos in Burkina Faso and Burundi

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I am writing this from Dakar, Senegal, where I am attending a meeting with African pro-democracy activists, learning best practices from one another. It is always an uplifting and humbling experience to listen to people whose hope, focus and determination has no bounds. The lessons from Burkina Faso have been especially engaging. Last year, the Burkinabe arose together, to stand up against the efforts of the then President Blaise Compaore to extend his stay in power. After 27 years, Mr Compaore had gotten used to manipulating his people and he thought that he could do it one more time. But…
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