Kenyan crisis: West's hand visible
Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2008
By Reason Wafawarova
January 09, 2008
Kenya has started 2008 with a bloodbath that has clearly overshadowed the spilling of Benazir Bhutto's blood at the end of December in Pakistan.
Both Kenya and Pakistan were electioneering at the end of 2007 with Kenya holding its plebiscite on December 27, shortly before descending into freestyle post election killings while Pakistan's poll that had been scheduled for January 8 was ruined by some daring suicide bomber who reportedly took his own life together with that of Benazir Bhutto, the Western approved democracy torch bearer in the electoral race.
Benazir Bhutto's democratic credentials might have been fantastic in the eyes of her Western backers, particularly in Washington's eyes, but this writer will insist that her decision to direct through a will that in the event of her death, her son should assume the leadership of her party is what is called monarchy and certainly not democracy.
Perhaps she was a monarchical democrat like Washington's friends in the rulership of Saudi Arabia.
The election in Kenya was supposed to be a torchbearer for democracy in Africa the same way Bhutto was supposed to show those Pakistan Islamic extremists the civility of Western backed democracy.
The Western hand in the political processes of both countries goes far back to the collapse of colonial empires and the politics of the Cold War.
This writer will not go into any detail about the creation of Pakistan from India and all that followed but will look at the way Kenya became independent, suffice to say the embarrassment brought by the sudden stubbornness of good old Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, the disconcerting assassination of Bhutto and the entangling post-election violence in Kenya all but put the western hopes of exporting democracy into disarray – especially with the faltering military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq making unpalatable news at home.
The Mau Mau uprising of Kenya was extinguished by sheer brute British force in 1959 and the defeat meant that Britain could go ahead to grant independence or majority rule to Kenya on London's own terms.
This they did in 1963, the same time the Central African Federation was dismantling to pave way for Zambia and Malawi's independence; while Zimbabwe was meant to be evolved into a Western outpost, along with South Africa.
From the onset Jomo Kenyatta was viewed as pro-Western and Kenya was always seen as the centre of Western interests at a time the crisis in Southern Africa was seen as threatening Western capital and offering the Russian bureaucracy major opportunities.
This crisis was in the context of the Angolan Liberation war, the Frelimo offensive in Mozambique and later the Zanla/Zipra offensive in Northern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) – of course not forgetting the Umkhonto WeSizwe rebellion in South Africa.
When Henry Kissinger visited southern Africa in 1976, with the aim of granting pro-Western independence to Zimbabwe through the internal settlement treachery that was being entertained by some nationalists and other black politicians; he outlined Western concerns emanating from the Rhodesia crisis. He pointed out that Kenya; one of the "most pro-Western states in the continent" was surrounded by "hostile regimes" armed by the Russians and China.
These were Julius Nyerere's Tanzania, Idi Amin's Uganda and Siad Barre's Somalia.
The tensions were well manifested through the Entebbe raid of July 3 1976 by Israel – although of course, part of this aggression was a result of Amin's excesses.
Kissinger also pointed out the Western concerns in Ethiopia where the pro-Western Derg faced a mounting rebellion from the peasants and the working class. Added to this were the Eritrean independence movement's offensive and the possibility of war with the Russian backed Somalia regime.
The current invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia and the accusations levelled against Kenya in the sponsoring of rebellion in Somalia are only an extension of this long-standing conflict of interests at whose centre is the Western interest in the horn of Africa.
In neighbouring Malawi, Kamuzu Banda was well into Vorster's pocket but almost useless in as far as Washington's grand plan was concerned.
The shaky Mobutu regime in Congo, installed by the West after the gruesome murder of Patrice Lumumba, was now faced with what Washington perceived to be a hostile and pro-Russian state across the border in Angola.
The West could not use Zambia's Kaunda because of his humanism ideology.
As a result of these perceived threats by the West, the then US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, paid a visit to Africa in June 1976 and signed a major arms deal with Kenyatta and Mobutu – of course as an addition to what the US was already supplying to Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia.
Of course, the guns did not solve the problem of Western interests in the Russian-Chinese backed African countries, particularly in southern Africa.
There was a line up of African politicians meant to be Kenyattas and Mobutus of Zimbabwe and South Africa and the US did all in its power to prop up these "moderate African leaders" like Mangosuthu Bhutelezi, Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole and others but all this was in vain.
The West in general and the British in particular were quite wary of the "Marxist Robert Mugabe" and of course the South African apartheid regime was just not ready for any black African government, however moderate.
Kenya continued with its pro-Western tag after the death of Kenyatta through Daniel Arap Moi's tenure and both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga hail from the Western favoured breed of politicians.
This is the legacy that has resulted in many of the regional head offices of Western non-governmental organisations being based in Nairobi, a city largely recommended as Western friendly and safe.
Even the UN Habitat Office is ironically headquartered in Nairobi, just next to the biggest slum on this planet, Kibera.
Indeed this is the Kibera, from where Odinga draws massive support from the nothing-to-lose slum dwellers who have put to effective use their status by challenging Mwai Kibaki's reportedly rigged election victory with their lives.
Kenyans have not meaningfully benefited from their post-colonial independence since the days of Kenyatta and the signs of disgruntlement have just started with the post-election violence of January 2008.
British foreign secretary, David Miliband has clearly said sanctions against Kenya are out of the question because of British interests in Kenya and McKinnon has said suspension from the Commonwealth is also out of question.
This puts to question the commitment by Western countries to the concept of democracy.
Indeed sanctions and suspension from the Commonwealth are only reserved for those who threaten Western interests, normally economic interests and there is just no way the mere death of 600 native Kenyans in eight days can be reason enough for sanctions or suspension from the Commonwealth.
It is not like the alleged death of 12 white farmers in Zimbabwe, who died putting up a spirited fight against Cde Mugabe's farm invaders coming in the name of landless poor masses. That is different; very, very different because it touches on Western interests.
The people of Kenya were expected to quietly ratify a Western endorsed government and go back to their suffering old selves in Kibera.
However, the two Western approved candidates fronting the Kenyan election appear to have involved themselves into some short-changing games thereby creating a real conflict between their followers. Whatever Kibaki did or did not do, the West is not after democracy in Kenya.
They are simply after their interests and the premature congratulatory message from Washington was meant to make those interests tally with the idea of democracy. The game plan clearly took the slum dwellers for granted, as events would later show.
In Rwanda, the Germans came in 1894 and empowered the Tutsi monarch over the majority Hutu in order to protect their interests through divide and rule.
The Belgians took over in 1919 and also empowered the Tustsis over the Hutus, even expounding the Himatic hypothesis that said the Tutsi were in fact Europeans and not "true Negroes".
They used an identity card system that spelt out the holder as Hutu or Tutsi in order to sideline the Hutu from the education system and other privileges. It is clear that such methods of protecting one's interests cannot succeed without problems.
As it were, the Belgians granted independence to Rwanda in 1957 and inevitably that had to come under majority rule and they gave the ruling privilege to the Hutus then led by Gregorie Kayibanda and later by Juvinal Habyarimana.
The Hutu intellectuals drafted the Hutu Manifesto the same year and they concurred with the Himatic theory and agreed that Tustsis were European "invaders" and therefore Rwanda was a Hutu nation.
The Manifesto firmly reaffirmed the marked ID cards as progressive and the Hutu government used them to separate the "indigenous" from the "invaders". Habyarimana even went as far as coming up with a policy of a maximum of 10 percent Tutsis in the education system.
The Tutsis fled the country and made up the bitter Diaspora that was later to launch a civil war from Uganda – fighting for the right to return to Rwanda. The Western backed war did not only come with the current Coalition government of Paul Kagame but also with the most publicised genocide of the 20th century.
When Radio Mille Collines announced that "all Tutsis need to be killed"; after President Habyarimana's plane had been shot down on April 6 1994 – the result was a deadly 100 day orgy of killing – claiming 800 000 lives, mainly Tutsis. This is what happens when deep-seated problems are left unsolved for a long time and the West created many such problems across Africa.
When Odinga announced after the December 2007 Kenyan election that he would not "give the people of Kenya anaesthesia so that they continue to be raped" – the result was an orgy of random killings that claimed 600 Kenyan lives. We have seen yet again another unsolved problem manifesting itself in Africa.
This writer has no illusions on the failure by some African leaders to command the necessary vision and skill needed to make Africa stand to be counted among other continents. What can one make of a continent where the likes of Afonso Dhalkama, Mobutu, Moise Tshombe, Muzorewa and others actually make it into history books as serious political contenders?
Even plain traitors like Morgan Tsvangirai can still hope to mount a meaningful challenge towards the leadership of a country freed after so much ruin and slaughter by Western ammunition. These shortcomings on the part of African politicians are indeed an impeding factor in the road towards real democracy for Africa.
However, the examples cited in this piece are meant to outline the role of the invisible hand from the West – a role so arrogantly played that Jendayi Frazer has no qualms flying into Nairobi and behaving like a mother settling a fight over toys between her two under five boys.
This is exactly what we saw in Frazer's talks to both Odinga and Kibaki – she told them to share the toy well and just forget about the election, didn't she? Odinga is of course playing the stubborn and difficult kid who insists that there cannot be peace until the other kid returns the toy to where it was in the first place.
This writer will assert once again that the uninvited meddling by Western powers into the affairs of Africa will just create more tragedies than what Rwanda and Kenya have already shown us. In fact it is only foolish to imagine that the Interahamwe Diaspora of Rwanda are dead and gone into history books. There are high chances that they will come back one day the way the Tutsis came with the Rwanda Patriotic Front in 1987.
This democracy that is centred on the Western interests and not on the welfare of Africans will just but backfire the Kenya way. It is time nation states started engaging in partnerships of equals as well as trading on a win-win basis. Outside this framework of relations the West can expect a lot more challenging scenarios coming up after Kenya.
Zimbabwe has now gone eight years on its own path outside the Western interest and it is incumbent upon the West to study the situation carefully before they have a dozen Zimbabwes right at their doorstep. Confrontation, sanctions, threats and demonisation will not work in favour of western interests – now more than ever before challenged by the rising influence of China.
The way forward is to allow African countries economic independence and the freedom to run their own political affairs in the context of the African interest. This trend of former colonial powers playing a big brother role in the affairs of former colonies will just not work and the sooner the likes of Britain realise that the era of colonies ended over half a century ago the better.
Reason Wafawarova is a Zimbabwean political writer and can be contacted on email@example.com