The Star (Nairobi)

25 October 2012

Kenya: Charles Njonjo Does Not Speak for All the Kenyans

column

In his wisdom, gained from many years in public service and business, former Attorney General, Mr. Charles Njonjo, has deemed it opportune to apologize to Africa Eminent Person, Dr. Kofi Annan, for the unkind words the latter's last visit to Kenya elicited from politicians, especially Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta.

Writing in a local daily, Mr. Njonjo said he was "deeply embarrassed to see Uhuru Kenyatta's divisive presidential campaign insulting Dr. Kofi Annan, the person who helped to keep us together as a nation in 2008, in the most derisive way as a tourist."

Having served as Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Annan possibly holds a diplomatic passport and would have no problem obtaining a visa at any of our airports, where he would obtain a free entry visa.

I have no problem with that, but my beef is the tendency by the aptly named Eminent Person to continue harbouring the belief that his services are required nearly five years after the fateful post-election fracas.

The guns in Syria are still blazing; Boko Haram continues to cause havoc in Nigeria; Mali is wavering between splitting and anarchy; and Guinea Bissau has been a simmering hell-hole since the military decided they had better governance options.

Yet the gentleman whose "distinguished record of diplomatic skills and service to humanity at the highest level" has not deemed it appropriate to seek what ails those nations.

To give credit where it is due, Dr. Annan participated in finding a solution to a problem that resulted in loss of life and displacement of innocent Kenyans, whose only mistake was to be at the right place at the wrong time, and mainly belonging to the wrong community.

But for Mr. Njonjo to accord him the tag of "saviour" is a bit far fetched since Kenyans know who comprised the mediation group. After all, the powers behind Dr. Annan are an open secret.

This brings me to the good diplomat's tendency to comment, mostly in a domineering manner, on any and all matters pertaining to Kenya's politics and governance as if someone appointed him overall supervisor or prefect.

But, with friends like Mr. Njonjo and a few others of like mind, it is not a wonder that after failing in Syria Dr. Annan has to seek relevance by retracing his steps to our beloved nation for some unknown unfinished business. It is demeaning and irritating, hence the reaction by our politicians.

Mr. Njonjo's story is an open book, at least for those born before "Maziwa ya Nyayo" was the popular mantra. His political preferences are well known, but a reminder of where he has come from is worthy a penny.

It is not nationalism that makes the former AG profess unswerving support for the Orange Democratic Party and, by extension, its leader.

Not by a long shot! It is actually his discomfort at seeing Mwai Kibaki at the helm of this nation that gives Mr. Njonjo sleepless nights and inevitably a little acid in the stomach.

Right from the days when he fought gallantly against "The Change the Constitution Group" in the mid-1970s to his advent into "the dirty game", Mr. Njonjo had his eye on the address on the hill and was willing to go to any length to obtain the key to that "big house."

It is the best laid plans that go awry, thank God, for had Mr. Njonjo succeeded in mounting the throne after "the cloud had passed", the history of Kenya would have been re-written with many a paragraph being reserved for the return of the colonizer, albeit through proxies.

At one time Mr. Njonjo declared a community from a particular region of this country "dirty" and not worthy to shake his hand. He lived up to that promise until politics, which he called a dirty game, made him sit at a table with persons from the same community, and claimed to have enjoyed the fish served in a down-town restaurant.

On his lapel is a fresh red rose, cut every morning from one of his massive green houses; his designer suits and shirts are personalized and have to be tailored in London; on his wrist is a designer golden watch, most probably a Rolex, and to cap it all is a golden chain watch in his left coat pocket.

This is the profile of the man who believes that Dr. Annan's recent sojourn was another courageous effort to back Kenyans in their desire to prevent another conflagration," and considers Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. William Ruto's efforts to ascend to the presidency of this country as misguided.

How Mr. Njonjo came to this conclusion is still a mystery that only he could shed light upon in order to fore warn the Kenyan electorate. Suffice it to say that the young should respect the old.

But in the same vein, elders must seek to be respected, mainly through their actions that indicate guidance and leadership and not uncalled for patronising demeanour.

Had Dr. Annan and his entourage meant well for Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto, he would have sought out the two politicians and delivered his misgivings given their indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He chose the media and should, therefore, not expect reactions through any other channel.

Does Mr. Njonjo have the onus to apologize to Dr. Annan, or any other person for that matter, on behalf of Kenyans? That is the moot question since he does not represent any other Kenyan apart from himself.

It may be wise for him to retreat to his comfortable cocoon and not be deluded in any way to believe that the people of Kenya have forgotten his role in darkening the landscape during his day days at the "Big Table." Ask Mheshimiwa Koigi wa Wamwere, or any of the then much celebrated "Six Bearded Sisters."

Kenyans resolve to see peace reigns in their land has been demonstrated by the promulgation of the new Constitution and consequent efforts to ensure its implementation.

Neither Dr. Annan, nor the international community can guarantee the nation remains peaceful through the coming general elections and after.

Unless Mr. Njonjo is ready to name and shame the divisive leaders who are gunning for the presidency so that commensurate action is taken against them, he should keep his peace.

My message to Mr. Njonjo as respectable senior citizen is to let the youth of this country, and other people of good will, assume the reigns of leadership because his day is gone.

Otherwise he may find himself once again looking into the sky waiting for the cloud to pass, but instead it turns into a downpour that catches him without an umbrella. Apologies should be left to nationalists and Kenyans of good will.

The writer comments on topical issues

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