The Week That Was: Sepp Blatter and Uhuru Kenyatta Walk into a Bar in Syokimau…

As I step out briefly from the birthday festivities at the DR HQ, I do so to ventilate and share some quick thoughts on several events which have shaped this past week.

Depending on where you’ve lived in the diaspora or visited in Karen, hearing anyone trivialise racial discrimination isn’t something you take lying down. This clearly explains the public outrage and condemnation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s remarks that in the case of football, any racial incidents could be settled by a handshake at the end of a match. That would be like Francis Atwoli saying that ethnic and gender discrimination doesnt exist in the workplace and if you’ve been discriminated against, you should just hug it out with your employer or colleague and move on. REALLY?

But the thing about discrimination in Kenya in particular is that more people need to speak out against it so that we can move past labeling and stereotyping and start looking at each other as brothers and sisters working towards building one nation: Kenya. The problem especially with ethnic discrimination in Kenya today is that it is so entrenched in our every day life that it has become accepted as normal and in politics, we accept it simply as the modus operandi. This mindset must change. Do keep in mind that we have a Bill of Rights now that enshrines Equality, which means that if you’re ever discriminated against, you can now go to court and seek damages.

Moving on, Forbes Magazine claims that Uhuru Kenyatta, 2012 presidential aspirant, International Criminal Court suspect and son of former president Jomo Kenyatta, is the richest man in Kenya and 26th richest man in Africa. Does it not bother us to have one surname owning over 500,000 acres of land in Kenya? Okay, that was rhetorical. Frankly, I pray that Mr. Kenyatta never sees the inside of State House in 2012 (although he was born there 50 years ago) because I have a sneaky feeling that Kenyatta would be among those that oppose all broad-based land reform/land redistribution policies that would be made pursuant to the Constitution. All in all, I find it all very sad that he sits on all these huge tracts of prime land, most of it unused, yet we still have displaced persons living in camps all over the country while the government continues to deprive many more of land including the residents of Syokimau.

Yes, ofcourse Syokimau had to come up. On this issue I could be that guy that immediately starts lecturing you on the eight years I spent in Law School and how all this could’ve been avoided if the Syokimau residents (you know, the ones that had their suburban houses demolished by the government) had come to my Chambers and allowed me to carry out a thorough search at the Ministry of Lands. But I wont. Why? Because unlike the Justice Minister and Lands Minister (who happen to both be lawyers), I believe, in this case, two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, most of those title documents are tainted with illegality. Yes, the government may well own the land. But that still doesnt justify getting bulldozers to arrive suddenly one day and flatten the homes people have worked so hard to build on land they’ve sacrificed so much to acquire. Like one commentator rightly put it, by violating the basic fundamental rights of the residents in such a callous and heartless manner, the government of Kenya is ostensibly at war with its own people.

Speaking of war, I unfollowed @MajorEChirchir so I am not up to date with the latest developments but I do know that the Harambee Stars have certainly done their bit against some “pirates” this week. Hongera!
On a serious note, this ‘war’ has been a costly one for Kenya in more ways than one and my fear is that it is become a political tool and convenient way of justifying use and/or abuse of public funds. The Executive arm of government even suggested that the demolitions and evictions in Syokimau were necessary because the disputed land was in the flight-path of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and posed a “threat to national security”. So, is our government saying that pulling out the national security card allows it to violate the constitutional rights of our fellow Kenyans? Putting Syokimau aside once again, this war we are engaged in has also been raised as a justification to break an agreement to increase salaries for university lecturers promised by the government several years back.

As a result those of us attending lectures in public institutions of tertiary learning have been sitting at home for the last week and a half while unversity dons went on strike. I think the government should be ashamed to pay doctorate-holding lecturers so little given the enormous role they play in nation-building. If nothing else, this is exactly why we need a Salaries and Remuneration Commission because there’s absolutely no way a bone-headed MP should be receiving an income of over 1 million shillings and our engineering professors are getting a maximum of 200,000 from the same government purse!

And finally I shall end my rant recap of the week by addressing the developments in the Supreme Court. For me, this election date case coming before the highest court in the land was be a litmus test to see how independent, impartial and expeditious this brand new court would be in dispensing justice and whether indeed it could rise to the occasion being guided only by the law and not the partisan politics of the day. In the end, the Mutunga-led court declined to give an Opinion on the election date and has referred the matter back to the High Court (as you recall the matter had previously been referred to the Supreme Court from the High Court).

However my widely shared disappointment with the Supreme Court doesnt end there. As the seven judge bench made their first appearance before the court and the cameras this week, they were wearing these green and gold robes that caught the eyes of many.

At the risk of being disbarred, Pheroze Nowrojee must’ve snickered to his learned counsel that the Supreme Court gowns looked like the warm-up kit for the South African Springboks team, innit? In fact others have commented that the gowns make our Supreme Court judges look like prison staff, rural church choir members, traditional dancers… and the list goes on and on. If you recall, the idea of shunning the colonial British robes and wigs was part of Chief Justice Mutunga’s grand plan to break from the past and make the Judiciary more accessible and less intimidating to the common man. But let’s agree that although CJ Mutunga’s intentions to transform the dresscode in the Judiciary are in good faith, the Supreme Court gowns need to be addressed and the input of the public sought so as to come up with something agreeable to all. Who knows, once we come up with a uniquely Kenyan gown for our Supreme Court judges, we can get back to coming up with that elusive national dress of ours?

Happy weekend, folks!

12 thoughts on “The Week That Was: Sepp Blatter and Uhuru Kenyatta Walk into a Bar in Syokimau…

  1. I didn’t realise Forbes chronicles the acquired wealth of bandits, not least those who have been charged with crimes against humanity.

    With the Sep Blatter thing, the British press are the only ones who seem to make a mountain out of what is an issue that needs addressing in a more coherent manner. Blatter is clearly an idiot, but he’s not a big a problem as the actual racism. The English FA for one should get rid of the speck in their eye than try to remove the log in FIFA’s eye. Instead of lashing out at FIFA at every turn for denying you the 2018 world cup, sort out the fact that Suaraz kept calling Evra a negrito and John Terry called Ferdinand a black C*^t on the field of play.

    If I were one of the Syokimau folks who took mortgage to build a house, I’d actually refuse to continue paying it back. For one, it’s a secured loan and the reality is that the security no longer exists. The banks own risk management strategy should be in question for being so stupid as to issue a loan based on a questionable title deed. If you do something that reckless then as a bank, you deserve to lose all that money. I would argue that the residents have a viable legal case to contest having to pay a loan that is secured on a property that doesn’t exist anymore.

    It’s like a bank securing a business loan on a donkey bought to transport water from A to B. I’ll be damned if I continue paying such a loan if the donkey dies.

    • Darius, your comment actually made me dig up my insolvency and bankruptcy notes. Just to play the devil’s advocate, the bank may still have a counter-claim even if the underlying security has since fallen away.

  2. The Syokimau demolitions begs the stupid question ‘who is the government?…the fact that a committee ‘to look into that matter’ has been set up in an unprecedented speed bears a haul of ‘the implied’
    That the GOK expects Kenyans to believe it was caught by surprise just like Baba Mwas and Mama Beth whose houses were demolished is indeed very touching and pathetic…like a scene from a bad film! The model used in appointing one Fred Kapondi as the VC of the committee eludes me.

    On Sepp Blatter… someone wise should warn him against violating his own nature! that handshake is pure,pan fried crap…so what if it was the other way round, am sure the Blacks in Football would be sitting on acid!

    As for Uhuru, and co. (read family), I think royalty has stripped him of normal human response to tragedy-so the persons in the camps should just do themselves a little favor and never mention him and IDP in the same sentence.

    • The term ‘government’ is being used interchangeably to denote one or two arms of government so as to run away from accepting responsibility.
      I watched that parliamentary session when directions were issued for the formation of the committee on Syokimau… I couldn’t stand all the pontification and grand-standing over the whole saga.. MPs and even Assistant MPs blaming the ‘government’..acting outraged and disappointed yet we know that they’re just making political mileage out of this tragic case.

  3. I think Sepp Blatter’s comments about racism was blown out of proportion by the British press. They are getting back at FIFA for England missing out on hosting World Cup 2018.

    Uhuru Kenyatta and 90% of the 2012 presidential aspirants all oppose reforms. It’s true that they helped pass the new constitution, but implementation is a different issue all together.

    In 2004, KAA took the Syokimau encroachers to court to have them evicted but there was a court injunction. That was 2004. It is 7 years since, I don’t know what amount of notice one would want. It is unfortunate that the current land owners had no idea that the land was under dispute, and an example has been made out of them. But Kenyans I believe after watching the evictions on TV, they are now wiser.

    Speaking of the war, I was against it from the very beginning when everyone else was ‘support the army’. We should instead secure the borders and flush out Al Shabaab from within. If John Allan Namu was able to go under cover and expose a recruitment ring, why can’t the CID or intelligence or NSIS find them? The USA with all their might and military power, haven’t been able to defeat the Taliban since they launched their offensive, what makes us think we can defeat Al Shabaab?

    Lecturers on strike, university non-teaching staff on strike, KNH workers, soon all Doctors. Kenya Power workers too. There is more to come. I can feel an #OccupyNairobi brewing.

    Supreme court is a bunch of sissies, and I think the robes are ugly!

    • Your point on the war is spot on. The choice is between military security or human security. Military security is where we take the war right to the enemy’s doorstep and has been best exemplified by the US war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Human security on the other hand is more concerned with securing our porous borders, ensuring that our cities and towns are well guarded and safe and flushing out dangerous elements within our borders. The latter approach i.e. human security is what Kenya should’ve opted for. Have we learned nothing from the US’s mistakes?

  4. On the contrary MisterNVON – if I were in their shoes, I would operate from the position that I have nothing to lose. I’m damn well not going to pay a 25 year mortgage just because the bank were negligent enough to give me a loan secured on a dodgy title deed. What’s the worst thing they can do? Repossess a house that doesn’t exist anymore?

    If it was an unsecured loan, then there’s little wiggle room for the borrower to cop out of the contract. But the question here that should be challenged in court is whether the contract that issued the mortgage is still valid considering the property doesn’t exist anymore.

    The banks risk management strategy should be on the dock. If you can’t carry out due diligence for such a substantial lending, then the market says you lose that money.

    What would happen for example if the borrower died? One would assume that the corresponding life insurance policy would kick in to cover outstanding costs until the house is sold, or that the lender will invoke the charge on the title deed of the property to recover outstanding costs if the next of kin of the borrower can’t or doesn’t wish to continue the payments.

    Insurance isn’t going to pay the bank on a non-existent property. There’s no property to sell to recover outstanding costs – so either way you look at it, the lender is screwed.

    The mortgage contract has a very clearly laid out procedure for recourse if the borrower defaults and that is to repossess the property. I would argue in court that the lender has no business chasing me for a mortgage when the property doesn’t exist anymore as it’s not in the scope of the contract. The only recourse they had was to repossess the property and that’s no longer an option.

    There’s always a first time for a precedent to be accepted in court.

  5. DS. Great post right there. My submissions as follows.
    I tend to agree on the fact that the 26th Richest Man in Africa should not step state house on the basis of His land amount owned. As in seriously He would clearly go against the land reforms when Power Finally gets into his head. 2ndly away from your note, it would be quite absurd to have son of jomo as the president as what will go in to your head is simple, is Kenya a Hereditary Leadership state or a democratic state. I also think it would paint a wrong image if the next president will come from the Mount Kenya area, tho I am seeing it happen as the other provinces are not man enough to rise their own. ours is demo-crazy

    Syokimau>>>>>I feel their plight though at some point I started agreeing a little with the government on land ownership issues. See us kenyans have a problem. We tend to want things cheaply and to go our way. Like one should carry out thorough research on land before buying. If they had an idea abt the land ownership, they would be better placed to build knowing their land will not be demolished. Again, many may have been cheated into purchasing the land, and so it calls for us to be vigilant. As for the government and their bulldozers! they know when to strike. Kuja Jumamosi asubuhi sa ile watu nalala na patia wao notice ya 20 minutes kutoa vitu yao yote. Obviously wao siezi toboa. 20 minutes ikiisha washa bulldozer na uanze kubomoa nyumba…Sato mtu huwesi pata injunction wa mahakamani…I call that sharpness

  6. I will not comment on the Syokimau issue since it seems that there are so many sides of that story……it is getting murkier and murkier each new day. Too much heat and little light….if any.

    UKenyatta is a representative of all that has gone horribly wrong with country. His 50th birthfay is just a reminder of how off-tangent this nation has gone…… and I sure really hope that ICC deems it fit for him to face trial. It will be the beginning of the end of the ‘uhuru-cabal’ in power.

    As for Supreme Court attire….trust me, we don’t need to discuss how it should be, at all, at all, at all. Just like Mutunga’s stud is nothing any more, so should these robes be. For you can take this to your bankers, just like there was no agreement to the national dress, there would be no agreement to the Supreme Court robes.


    • That’s news to me!

      Last I heard the National Dress initiative fell flat on its face.

      Perhaps Brand Kenya & others should focus more on it instead of spending millions on ads and such.

      • Well I actually don’t mind what Brand Kenya is doing, but I think they should employ a multi-faceted approach to creating national cohesion. And definitely one of this is the National Dress.

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