In 1978 when Mzee Kenyatta died, the cost of a 2kg packet of maize flour was Kshs. 2.80. On December 27, 2002 maize flour cost was Kshs 27. During 24 years of Moi’s rule, the price of Unga had increased by Kshs 24, an average of 1 shilling per year. In 2003 the cost of Unga increased to Kshs.54; it doubled. In only 1 year the Narc government had increased the price of Unga by Kshs. 27, more than Moi’s government had increased in 24 years.

On December 27, 2002, one kilo of sugar cost 27/=, today a kilo of sugar costs 85/=. When Narc assumed office a liter of paraffin cost 22/=, today it costs 60/=. Under the Narc government the cost of transport doubled. In fact, the cost of all basic products has risen by over 100%.

As a result, we the ordinary citizens continue to struggle just to survive from one day to the other. We welcome free primary education; our children are not required to pay school fees. However, with the rising cost of food, children either go to school hungry, or even stay at home. The reason is simple- food is too expensive. In fact, during the Moi era many of us were able to afford both fees and food. Today most of us cannot afford food, even though we are not paying fees.

It is true that the Narc government has made improvements. Farmers are being paid for their produce. Coffee, sugar, tea, milk, maize and many products are better paid today than during the Moi era. Why, then, does the Kenyan farmer continue to struggle? Because the cost of all farm inputs- seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides- have doubled or tripled. The money the farmers are getting is quickly taken back through these exorbitant prices.

Today 3 out of 5 Kenyans are either starving or on the brink of starvation. In a nation of 30 million, that means 18 million Kenyans cannot afford to feed themselves every day. Many of us live on one meal a day, and on some days that meal is not available and our hungry children cry until they sleep

Is it because we do not work? Ordinary Kenyans work every day. We till the land, work in factories, flower farms and EPZ. We dig ditches, chip and carry stones from quarries, hawk products on the streets, run kiosks. Most of us are casual laborers, cleaning homes for the rich, doing clerical work in their companies, mixing concrete in their construction. The average casual laborer is paid only 100/= per day to do extremely hard work. 100/= is no longer enough to buy food for a family; Unga is 54/=. Paraffin, sukuma-wiki, cooking oil, water and rent are supposed to come from the remaining 46/=. That is why we are sleeping with empty stomachs even after working hard.

Where are our MPs? Since independence Kenya has never missed a scheduled election. Every 5 years ordinary citizens elect MPs. Their only job is to give voice to the people’s needs. Why are they so quiet when food prices increase?

During the Kenyatta and Moi era, like ordinary Kenyans, MPs’ salary was less than 20,000/=. Some MPs were rich, but many were ordinary citizens who understood the struggles of ordinary citizens. Today an MP earns over Kshs.600,000 every month. Each month an MP can afford to buy over 10,000 packets of Unga, enough to feed his family for 30 years! That is why Mps say nothing about the high cost of food. And, this includes all our MPs, not just government MPs. When it comes to voting for their needs, there is usually no difference between our MPs.

Why are Kenyans unable to afford food?

Every year starving Kenyans are given dry maize because they have no food. The government blames this on lack of rain. It is true that it has not rained in some areas for a long time. But it is also true that year round Kenya exports vegetables like French beans to Europe. Kenya is the top exporter of flowers in the world. If there is enough water to irrigate flowers and French beans for Europeans, why not use the same water to grow food for Kenyans? Because the government does not care whether Kenyans live or die.

Kenyans are paid very little salaries for making products that earn billions for foreigners. The government has poor planning leading to poor policies which have contributed to joblessness; poor remuneration; mismanagement of national resources like water (e.g. a government water project delivers water to a minister’s farm in Kajiado, leaving the rest of the district dry); unexploited talent (educated and trained Kenyans are either unemployed or retrenched); high taxation of citizens (foreigners who invest in Kenya don’t pay taxes for 10 years while citizens are taxed heavily from the first day); bad politics (If MPs can spend heavily for referendum campaigns why not use the same energy to help starving Kenyans?); improper, imbalanced education due to poor education policy (the rich have well equipped private schools, the poor learn under trees); lack of research on food; etc

The most serious reason, however, is the inequitable distribution of resources. The gap between the richest and the poorest people in

Kenya is the second highest in the world; we are a nation of a few billionaires and 30 million beggars – 75% of our resources, including land, are controlled by foreigners. As a result, we remain essentially enslaved; nearly all of us work for foreign interests. At the same time, 90 % of all income generated in Kenya is owned by only 10%, meaning that 27 million Kenyans have to fight for only 10% of the income. Sadly, there is no truly selfless leader in Kenya. Poor leadership means that people with selfless nationalism like JM Kariuki are quickly killed, leaving us with selfish and corrupt leaders.

 

Can food be made affordable?

The government can easily ensure that no Kenyan will ever go hungry. First, foreigners can be taxed and a fund created that would provide Kenyan farmers with interest-free loans. Money leaving the country should be limited so that money earned in Kenya develops Kenya. Also, money coming to Kenya should not be scrutinized so that, like Switzerland, Kenya benefits from foreign funds. We can use existing resources like the military and the National Youth Service to drill boreholes, make water furrows, and construct water reservoirs to harvest rainwater, improve roads and distribute food. Drilling boreholes makes more sense than constructing dams, which are dependent on rains. Education can be improved so that Kenyans are given appropriate training (e.g. teach carpentry, brick making, etc to all Kenyans, not just prisoners). Kenyans can be encouraged to grow indigenous crops by having an extra tax imposed on all foreign food imports. Kenyans should be allowed to transport food freely from any part of the country without requiring licenses or paying any fees.

 

Like other countries, the government must be forced to subsidize the cost of basic food products. If we go by the history of the Moi era, the cost of Unga should increase by 1/= each year. Since in 2002 it was 27/= the cost of Unga should not exceed 30/=. At the same time, the government should subsidize the cost of Kerosene/paraffin which ordinary citizens use.

Bunge la Mwananchi believes that there is enough money for the government of Kenya to subsidize Unga and paraffin. By removing taxes on Unga and paraffin, the prices should drop. Further, the government should find money to subsidize basic food products. Kenyans need affordable food, NOT relief food. Queuing for dry maize with our children undermines our dignity and is not a sustainable solution. If food prices are reduced, no Kenyan will go hungry. We are willing to work for our food, as long as the prices are affordable.

Where will the money come from?

The government has plenty of money but it just misuses it. We demand that the salaries of MPs are reduced to no more than 200,000 per month, and like everyone else, the MPs should pay taxes and contribute to the national pension schemes of NSSF and PAYE. Pension scheme for MPs and health insurance to private hospitals should be scrapped; MPs should have NHIF insurance and go to government hospitals like other Kenyans. The over 1 billion set aside in the budget for renovating MPs offices and enlarging parliament should be used to subsidize food or establish a fund for capital investment in small businesses for Kenyans. That will generate income and provide employment. The 100million budgeted for building the VP’s house and the 400 million for renovating State house should be used for building low cost houses for Kenyans. Like Rwanda, Kenya should sell all expensive government vehicles and replace them with simple vehicles, which should only be used during government business and not for taking Ministers’ girlfriends shopping.

The President, if he is serious about reducing expenses in government, should start by firing all cabinet ministers who have refused to give back the extra cars. No public officer should ever have more than one vehicle assigned to him. The money saved can be used to improve transport for ordinary Kenyans. All presidential commissions should be immediately abolished; they consume billions and deliver nothing. Spending 300 million on Mutava Musyimi’s commission or paying Ringera 2.5 million per month to fight corruption is, itself, corruption. That money can be used better. Alfred Mutua should be sacked. Kenya has no need for a spokesman telling us about homesick hyenas in Thailand at a cost of 1.5 million per month. Retreats for MPs should be banned; meetings should be in Parliament not in 5-star hotels in Mombasa. Funding for MPs offices in their constituencies should be scrapped; volunteers at no cost can run those offices.

Pension for retired presidents should be no more than 300,000. Imports of locally available products should be heavily taxed. No public funds should ever be used to fund funerals or help individual families unless similar privileges are extended to all Kenyans.

 

What can we do?

We have started a campaign to force the government to reduce the cost of Unga to 30/=. We demand that MPs move and pass a motion to remove VAT on all basic foodstuffs; it is not too much to ask considering that MPs were able to remove taxes on their salaries and vehicles.

Before coming to us for votes this year we, the people, want to remind our politicians that we will agitate for reforms that suit us, not “minimum reforms” to ensure that they are re-elected. We will also have peaceful protests nationwide.

Support us by giving this message to as many people as possible and joining our organized demonstrations

 

PEOPLE’S PARLIAMENT

Jeevanjee Gardens, Moi Avenue
Tel: 0733 248 301
Email: info@kenyapeoplesparliament.com
http://www.kenyapeoplesparliament.com


A follow up article by Al Kags.

A little more than a week ago, I asked a question – or a series of questions that left me castigated left right and centre by the online socialist community. My question was specifically related to the World Social Forum but generally to all other conferences. I asked that since the 7th World Social Forum was happening in Nairobi and it certainly is a good thing, what are the deliverables that we can expect out of the participants – in terms of tangible out come?

I said that while the WSF was a great thing – and Kenya could certainly use an exra 100 Million shillings anyday – it was created for a purpose and my request was that that purpose be explained to me. Needless to say, I got none of that. The National Coordinator of the Kenya Social Forum, a friend of mine for years, Onyango Oloo came back annoyed but still failed to illuminate on my simple question.

Onyango Oloo

 

 ____________________
Onyango Oloo addressing one of the discussions  at WSF 2007

 

 

 

 

I therefore attended the First Day of the WSF at Uhuru Park and listened to various speakers including the venerable Kenneth Kaunda, former president of Zambia. I spoke to many people from all over the world and apart from the leftist rhetoric, that complained of oppression and “rights” and many other clichés, I was unable to discern the reason for the gathering.

One man there stood out in his reasoning. He said that he went there to meet new people and to register his dissatisfaction with the performance of one George W Bush, saying that Obama would do a lot better for the world.

I am a complete ignoramus on these issues. I was in need of a concise and simple explanation. The words that were used were way above me in this case and reading the wsf2007 web site did little to sort that confusion.

Maybe its me.

Koigi

 

__________________
Koigi Wa Wamwere is a self confessed Socialist and a fighter for the rights of the poor. He is an assistant Minister in Kenya

 

At the end of it all, my education was to begin when I came across a letter to the editor in the East African that was titled, “WSF: Beyond the leftist rhetoric” by one Elkinah Odembo. She (I think Elkinah is a woman) explains that the world social forum believes that a better world, where the flawed system held by the World Economic Forum at Davos is improved upon. Apparently, the world social forum holds that the current system in which business is the driving force, does not take responsibility for the poor and the less fortunate in society as well as the concern that this system drives the gap between the rich and the poor wider apart.

Elkinah says that the WSF will provide a platform for civil society groups to explore alternatives and offer them as alternatives to the capitalist system held by the World Economic Forum.

While I was there, for the two days I went, I did not get the sense that these alternatives were being explored – but I could be wrong. My understanding is that at the end of the conference should be an alternative system – or systems – being proposed to the World Economic “man eat all” sort of system. That remains to be seen.

My own impressions gathered especially on the first day of the forum were that there are many people who feel strongly that the capitalist system is wrong or misguided. However, I put it to you, with all due respect to the socialists out there, that the world social forum is unlikely to achieve much as it is constituted today.

I see its largest handicap being the same one that I see with most – if not all – civil society setups: Too much rhetoric too little action. You see, much as there can be song and dance and poetry and movements and marches against the World Economic Forum capitalist system, as long as the World Social Forum does not at the end of the day use its intellectual resources to ensure that the interests of the world are taken care of while at the same time regarding those who work harder (or smarter) than others, all that is a song and dance about nothing.

Besides, the famous ‘Porto Alegre Charter’ – the Charter of Principles of the World Social Forum – is much invoked in controversies within the movement because it bans ‘party representations’ from participating and forbids social forums to take decisions. I can see why. It has tied their hands has it not?

The other thing that works against the Social Forum is that there are few specifics. Sure, we are talking about leveling the field and closing the gap between the rich and the poor – ostensibly by making the poor richer – not the rich poorer (but I could be wrong). But how is this to be done exactly? Robert Mugabe style perhaps: take from the rich and give to your cronies – I mean the poor? What are the key steps towards getting us to that new system? What exactly are the fundamentals of that system? So far, I have not seen it and I googled till my eyes are blue.

Also, what is to be done by the masses is done by no one. It will not be the masses that will work on changing the system? It is the representatives of the masses – well of individuals like the organizers of the conference who do not have to fight physically for the basics: food, shelter, water, education, who will be able to do this.

But then history has shown social movements fail – Tanzania, the Soviet Union and time has shown socialists in power do little but what the World Social Forum will eventually have done: paid great lip service to the problem. Aren’t died in the wool socialists, Mwandawiro Mghanga and Koigi wa Wamwere not in positions of power? Can we not name more?

This provided interesting reading;
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7197

and especially
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7207

I stand to be corrected on all this.


By Udi Kagwe

It is difficult for anyone to deny that Kenya is at a good place today. Certainly much better than in years past. A brisk walk around Nairobi reveals working city traffic lights, clean parks (yes, even the Jevanjee Gardens are in impeccable order), painted and well repaired roads.

Driving to Mombasa, as many of us did over the jut ended holidays and we find that the road is well built and well done. The parts finished between Mtito Andei and the outskirts of the coastal city are well done and in good order.

The various industries from agriculture to tourism to ICT are opening up and there have been a good number of indusries opened.  Investment in Kenya by kenyans has increased and data from the Central Bureau of Statistics is glowing.

As I write this, over 50,000 foreigners are gathered in Nairobi from all over the world for the next five days. They are attending the 7th World Social Forum at the Nairobi’s Kasarani Complex. Word has it that well over half of these people are not staying in hotels, but are put up in people’s houses across Nairobi. An estimated Kshs. 100,000,000 is being injected into the economy this week.

Just the other day the Kenyatta  International Conference Centre was re-admitted into the association of conference venues called International Congress and Convention Association and also International Association of Congress Centres, after many years in exclusion.

All these and many more issues would indicate that President Mwai Kibaki is sitting pretty to be re-elected for another five years ass Kenya’s leader. Or would it?

Against him

As things look right now, the most obvious blemish on President Kibaki’s administration is the ever unfolding Kshs. 50 Million corruption scandal, in which key members of his cabinet, David Mwiraria, Energy Minister and poet, Kiraitu Mutungi as well as his number 2, Kenya’s favorite uncle, Moody Awori.

Some shenanigans are clearly being held as Justice Aaron Ringera attempts to clear the ministers of any wrongdoing. A key positive thing about todays Kenya is that there are no media inhibitions and we quickly heard stinging critisism and condemnation of the action to the extent that the Attorney General was forced to back track – if ever so slightly.

In Oxford, the indegefatigable Czar of Fighting Graft, John Githongo has vowed to fight it out to the bitter end. As far as he goes, there shall be no sweeping of anything under any carpet.

Essentially what this means for Kibaki is that he’s in a bad position and if not handled well,  things could go awry for him. On the one hand, he has to keep his friends close if he is to return to power and on the other, the county will have him for dinner if he doesn’t deal with it.

All indications are that he is asleep on the job and that he has refused to do anything about the situation.

Don’t under Estimate Kibaki

It would be a dangerous mistake to assume that Kibaki has gone dormant. History has shown that he is a wile individual and that his silence always means something.

In Former President Moi’s cabinet, Kibaki was the most closely watched by Moi’s men because he was perceived as the greatest threat. No wonder because it was he and “Sir” Charles Mugane (jokingly pronounced Mue-Gain) Njonjo, who outmaneuvred the Kiambu Mafia from making a travesty of the constitution – by simply announcing the cabinet’s support for the Vice President.

During this time that he was being so closely watched, Kibaki spent his time very conservatively, nary being seen in secret meetings. Stories are told of how he told people at the Muthaiga Golf Club to stay away or else they would be in trouble.

On December 25th 1986, Kibaki resigned – with a press statement rather than a quiet reignation letter to the president. Barely a week later, he announced the birth of DP – complete with National offices at locational levels.

A similar stance was taken in the previous election and some analysts claim that Kibaki actually manipuated the opposition leaders to agree on him. Certainly before he was seen at the breakfast meetings with Charity Ngilu and the late Wamalwa, he was as always a deep river, running silently.

Beware of the falls.

If you want to respond to this article in depth and you would like to have your analysis published in the Races series,  please send your article to alkags@gmail.com. The Editorial team will decide on whether you will be published and when.


Kenyans are for the next two years in for a veritable treat as far as entertainment is concerned. For eons, competition has been the surest form of entertaainment for the average human – and the two years 2007 and 2008 are going to be highly entertaining years for Kenyans.

The entertainment on schedule is the Kenyan election that is due in December of this year – even though indications are that the elections may come as early as September this year. The mayhem and hullabaloo that is the campaign process will engulf the Kenyans lives and media in a manner to ensure that they will be thoroughly entertained.Mwai Kibaki

_______________________
Will he be president again?

Presidential contenders in Kenya are diverse – from the incumbent, President Kibaki, mainstream politicians, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, and Najib Balala, as well as the new entrants who include religious leaders – the controversial Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, the Charismatic Pius Muiru and others.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru

______________________
Controversial Religious Leader, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru is among the religious leaders planning a “political revival”

Soon after that epic battle is over, the US will be going through an election that is certainly one of a kind. For the first time since 1928 the white house is wide open for contest with no incumbent.

George W Bush will then be completing the two constitutional terms allowed by law and therefore he cannot run for another election (Thank God, some will sigh). His number two, “the hunter” Dick Chenney has categorically stated that he will not run – ostensibly because of his weak heart and the hunting incident where he accidentally shot someone.

A series of firsts

____________
Hillary Clinton is the first US first lady to be elected in office

  • This is the first elections in the US that a black man, a hispanic man and a woman will be vying for nominations and therefore election as president of the United States
  • The first time since 1928 that the presidential elections race has no incumbent

Now the serious contender, who have thrown in their hats include Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, Rudolph Giugliani, Newt Gingrich and others.

Certainly the reason that the 2008 elections will be so hot is the fact that for the first time, there will be a woman contender to the US presidency, a black man and a hispanic man and at least two of these are very serious contenders. Kenyans will follow the saga with rapt attention and fascination not only because it promises to be a tough battle but also because “their own” Barrack Obama – could be the leader of the so-called free world.

Starting today, Al Kags, Udi Kagwe, Buchere Amadi and Steve Abdulwalid Khamati will post analyses on the various aspects of the elections – both in Kenya and in the US.

Enjoy.


The Steadman Group recently carried out a survey on the public’s attitudes of Multi-party democracy issues, Civic Awareness and the public’s participation in Democracy. The survey was commissioned by The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

For your information, you may download the full report of the survey here.The WFD survey on Multi-Party Democracy Attitudes, awareness and participation


The Heads of the evangelical churches in Kenya, led by the Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who is the leader of the Christ is The Answer Ministries of the Nairobi Pentecostal Church, want the world acclaimed hominid fossils of the “origin of man” – undoubtedly among Kenya’s few true claims to fame, hidden away in a back room of the museum, for fear that they will influence christian children away from Christianity to belief in the darwinian theory of evolution.

According to the churches, with a following of 6 million, a concerted effort will be made to ensure that the musuem does exactly as they have asked.

Richard Leakey

 

_________________
Dr. Richard Leakey: “The Most ridiculous comments I have ever heard”

Let us be clear. The churches must be ignored and short thrift be given to their particular brand of heckling. The most complete skeleton of Homo Erectus was found by Dr. Richard Leakey in 1984 near Lake Turkana. The bones of several specimens of the Australopithecus anamensis, were found much earlier.

Is it only now that the churches have known of their existence? Did we, the 8-4-4 crowd not grow up studying the theory of evolution in school as well as the creation theory? Did we not make our minds up as to what is truth in our midst? Those of us that chose to be christians, saved christians – did so with full knowledge of the Darwinian theory.

Why now .does the church seem to panic?

This latest outburst from the Pentecostals is reminiscent of the church’s needless upheaval over the best selling book by Dan Brown, the Da Vinci Code and more specifically its movie. Roundly dismissing the book and the subsequent movie, the church dismissed the book as “shameful and unfounded lies”, the Vatican urged people to boycott it and in Kenya, churches went all out to roundly dismiss that “evil book and movie”.

Bishop

 

______________________
Bishop Boniface Adoyo: “We will write to them, we will call them, we will make sure our people know about this, and we will see what we can do to make our voice known.”

 

What the church actually did, was to manage a huge marketing campaign for the Da Vinci Code and make it a must see. If Dan Brown wins an award for the book, I can see him acknowledging the church of the world for popularizing his book so.

With their current shenanigans, the evangelical churches are doing the same – not only for the Darwinian theory but more importantly for the museum which is due to be re-opened in June, after a huge European Union funded face-lift.

But a more pertinent question is this: has the church lost grip of its faithful? Is it now that much easier to de-doctrinate a person from his or her socialization? Are there cracks in the façade?

Also, anyone who has read the legendary futurist Alvin Toffler and World History is aware of the rise and imminent fall of civilizations and empires. Are we in the transition of the decline of religion of Christianity to be specific as we know it?

Certainly less people are going to church than before, and more children are being brought up on more liberal spiritual grounds. Is the church – as it seems – clutching at straws, hanging on for its existence?

Regardless of the issues at hand, the hominid fossils must not be hidden away. Let the church find better ways of retaining its faithful… but if they are already inclined to leave, they will leave regardless of the excuse, don’t you think?


by Al Kags

The 7th Edition of the World Social Forum is going to be held in Africa for the very first time – in Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre no less. At least 70,000 delegates from around the world are expected to descend upon Nairobi from the 20th of January this year until the 25th of January.

The WSF Kenya website wsf2007.org says this of the conferece:

“From its modest origins in Porto Alegre in the year 2001, the World Social Forum has mushroomed into a global counter-force challenging the assumptions and diktats of imperialism and its associated neo-liberal policies that have over the decades, imposed colonialism and neo-colonialism; devastated Southern economies; bolstered the disastrous and repressive reigns of assorted tin pot dictatorships; marginalized women; disenfranchised youth; intensified the destruction of the environment; unleashed bloody, inhuman and needless military conflicts in nation after nation, region after region and deepened the exploitation of poor peoples around the world.

Rallying around the clarion call of Another World Is Possible, the World Social Forum has placed social justice, international solidarity, gender equality, peace and defence of the environment on the agenda of the world’s peoples. From Porto Alegre to Mumbai to Bamako to Caracas, Karachi and now Nairobi, the forces and the contingents of the World Social Forum have collectively expanded the democratic spaces of those seeking concrete, sustainable and progressive alternatives to imperialist globalization.”

 I don’t know what this means. I have read and reread it several times and I find it difficult to identify with the words I am reading – probably because I don’t understand its profoundness.

I understand that is an infinitely wonderful thing for Kenya that the conference is coming in – it says we are doing some stuff right. It says that Phillip Kisia ad his team at KICC, Bwana meya at his Parlour and the city are doing their jobs well.

But I wonder about the expediency of the conferece after all is said and done. It sounds to me like a talk shop that does not have real deliverables at the end of the day. It is indisputable that the world and especially the third world has had to suffer poverty and marginalisation and despots and all. Africa knows these problems intimately.

But what actual deliverables are achieved out of these expensive talk shops? what is done  that actually makes a world of difference to our social makeup? I am told that Dialogue is a central take out from the conferences of this nature and that the more we talk the more we shall solve our problems. Really?

Will the World Social Forum save Zimbabwe from Comrade Bob or Southern Sudan from the Janjaweed? Will the World Social Forum or any other one of the miscellenious forums actually change the lives of the Somalis and the other suffering masses? I suspect it will for the five days or a month after, sort out a few Kibera dwellers Ugali and a few beers for the more opulent Nairobians involved but will it change our lives?

To put it in a nutshell, I am not convenced that this conference has any more utility to Africa and the world as it is touted to have.

Be that as it may, talk shops are a good break and for the people that attend them, a nice experience.