Is political colonialism back?
Written by Macharia Munene
March 11, 2008: Colonialism in full swing and intensity that
appears fresh is back in Kenya without calling it so. With many of
its subjects claiming huge chunks of prime land in Kenya, Britain
seems to believe that its desires should be taken as commands.
Its sable rattling about what Kenya should do to please the
masters of the world in Europe and North America has become shrill.
It succeeded in forcing a divided executive on Kenya in the same
way it had imposed a majimbo travesty in 1962.
The entire process is a study in international pressure tactics,
the ganging up of imperial powers against a Third World country.
From the start, Britain, it appears, was clear that it wanted the
“winner” of the December 2007 elections to share power with the
“loser.” Its task was first to get other imperial powers to go
along and then get some prominent Africans to deliver the message.
Strange things then happened to hammer this point. After ECK
chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, declared Kibaki elected, the US
acknowledged that fact only to do a quick about-turn. Being the
strongest supporter of the American fiasco in Baghdad, London
seemingly reminded Washington that Kenya was to Britain what Iraq
was to the United States.
With the Americans in place, the EU was never a problem. Similarly,
when the World Bank issued its report supporting the announced
results, it was forced to change in order to suit what imperial
Everything had to fit pre-conceived positions. The EU observers
had issued a report containing errors regarding specific
constituencies. When the errors were reportedly pointed out to
their satisfaction, they did not have the courage to admit
publicly they were wrong.
With the imperial powers in one accord, prominent Africans were
next. Desmond Tutu showed up, witnessed the consequences of ethnic
violence and went back a very sad man.
John Kufuor, a man who seemingly likes protocol and would not do
things that would appear to insult a “brother” president, had
Gordon Brown’s endorsement, but he waited for an invitation.
President Kufuor would not do such ‘un-protocol’ thing and he
showed up only when President Kibaki extended an invitation.
In Nairobi, Kufuor was unable to convince Kibaki that “advice”
from London made sense to people with bitter memories of British
colonialism. When Kibaki disowned a document stripping him of
powers, the situation became embarrassing and so Kufuor flew back
Next came Kofi Annan from Geneva. Annan convinced Kibaki that the
issue, being political rather than legal, could be solved only by
conceding executive powers to Odinga as a prime minister who
cannot be fired. In the background, imperial powers repeatedly
threatened Government officials, ordering them to accept Annan’s “advice”.
Kibaki, cornered, signed the document on February 28, 2008 as
Washington’s man in Nairobi, who seemed to know what the deal
would be even before Kibaki had agreed to it, watched.
The reactions were interesting. Many Kibaki supporters were
disappointed while Odinga’s celebrated. Annan returned to Geneva
and left Nigeria’s Oluyemi Adeniji to continue “guiding” Kenyans.
Imperial powers were satisfied and said they would help reshape
Kenya. Political colonialism, though not territorial, is back with
Munene is a professor of History and International Relations at
United States International University (USIU).