Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

The struggle for Kenya’s future has been hijacked by tribalists

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It is said that history does not repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes with the present. We are at a moment that rhymes dramatically with our history from the 1960s.  The big question now — which is exactly the same question we faced at independence — is whether Kenya can unshackle itself from its culture of status quo minority rule that uses brutal, corrupt, predatory and divide-and-rule tactics to maintain a semblance of stability and calm. We will get a sense of the answer to this depending on how January 30 goes, and what follows thereafter. Unfortunately, the main protagonists…
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Ignoring January 30 lessons will be dangerous for Kenya

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Even in a society as deeply polarised as ours, few can deny that the events of January 30 — and after — were momentous. This date will remain one of those that we recall with significance, such as July 7, 1990 (Saba Saba), March 31, 1997 when mass action for a new constitution started, and August 27, 2010, when we inaugurated the current Constitution. There are many takeaways from the 'swearing-in' as we embark on a journey that could determine if Kenya returns to its familiar repressive, corrupt and declining state of the 1980s and 1990s, or if Kenya turns…
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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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