Respect Kenyan Aboriginal Peoples



Respect Kenyan Aboriginal Peoples

After the "Orange Win" - let true justice prevail

Nairobi, 22. 11. 2005 (WTN) - The Ogiek, the Watha, the Aweer, the Dahalo and the Yaku are besides some smaller aboriginal hunter-gatherer communities and the more or less extinct Jumbo People the original inhabitants of the land, which is today known as the multi-nation state of Kenya. While the Bantu and Nilotic speaking peoples, who form today's majority tribes, only arrived over time in the lands of this country, the aboriginal people were oppressed and deprived of their rights by the invading tribes, the European colonialists and subsequently the neo-colonial governments as well as today's multi-national corporations, who rule into the internal affairs of these peoples and withhold from them not only any form of self-governance and self-determination but do not allow even their equal stand as citizens of Kenya.

This is now the time when finally justice must be done to the first peoples of Kenya. During the Bomas convention only the Ogiek had some limited access as observers, while the Watha were - despite protests from the real people - misrepresented by fake proxies and the Aweer, Dahalo and Yaku had not even been invited.

Ogiek, Watha, Aweer, Dahalo and Yaku are Nations within the international boundaries of Kenya as a country. This must be fully respected in the upcoming talks for a true constitution and the genuine representatives of the First Nations of Kenya must have their say, receive the full respect as well as equal standing and must be given the opportunity to reconstitute their rights also in terms of their homelands.


Orange leads - Final Tally


2,513,517 3,502,160

Orange Leaders celebrate -
Uhuru Kenyatta, Najib Balala, Raila Ondinga
(pic: Frederick Onyango)

Heed the people's wishes

Publication Date: 11/23/2005

Three months of hard and aggressive referendum campaigns finally ended on Monday. Kenyans cast their ballot to put the constitutional debate to a peaceful end. And they made their verdict loud and clear and, most importantly, did so calmly and with dignity. 

In all this, it is the voters - the ordinary Kenyans - who deserve commendation. They turned out in large numbers to express their views and ensure that the national task was discharged successfully. 

Now that the Electoral Commission of Kenya has declared Orange the victor (with 3.5 million votes against Banana's 2.5 million) and Banana has conceded defeat, it is time for reconciliation and nation-building. 

Untold energy, time and other resources were poured into the campaigns. Emotions and passions ran high. There were acrimonious exchanges. Tempers flared. Violence left eight people dead and many injured. 

But all that is now behind us. What is critical is how to proceed in the search for a new governance charter. It is a moment at which to look back and reflect on the long path to the referendum and to draw some valuable lessons. 

One, the referendum has shown that Kenya's democracy has come of age. Much more enlightened, the voters are able to make independent decisions irrespective of what their leaders say or think. 

Despite cases of provocation, cheating and intimidation, the people held their peace and were decisive in their actions and choices. 

The second lesson is that the future of Kenya's politics lies on broad-based coalitions. No single group  ethnic or ideological - can go it alone when it comes to national leadership. 

Similarly, leaders must be sensitive to people's feelings and respect their views. The era when those in authority forced their opinions on the people is long gone. 

Any decision that touches on the people's lives must be discussed with the people, not pushed down their throats. Brute force, political demagoguery and abuse of financial might will no longer guarantee results. 

But, after the polls, the big question remains: Where do we go from here? How do Kenyans come by a new constitution? 

For the past 15 years, they have fought hard to enact one because the current one is terribly wanting. After Monday, the desire may prove stronger and more urgent than ever before, especially given the elite's extremely self-interested sabotage of the people's earlier initiative. 

It seems difficult to imagine that the people will want to continue with the Lancaster House constitution - one imposed on them by the outgoing colonial regime in its own exploitative interests and then systematically ruined by the post-independence governments in their own tyrannical interests. 

That is why the Government must yet again make the first move - seizing the invitation offered by the the victorious Orange faction - to the pressing question: What Is To Be Done? How do we deliver ourselves from the extreme inadequacies of the present Constitution? 

After the resounding defeat of the one it proposed in its stead, the Government is duty-bound to deliver another acceptable to Wanjiku. That was one of the reasons that Kenyans voted for Narc in the 2002 General Election. 

Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. There are various documents, including the Bomas. Again, we have learnt from the past experience that to rely solely on politicians to shepherd the process is fraught with pitfalls. 

Serious thought must be given to how agreement can be struck on the contentious sections of the Bomas Draft or what new approach, negotiated and inclusive, can bring this country to its long cherished dream of a modern and equitable constitutional order. 

The country needs a constitution that is all-inclusive, one that serves and protects everybody's interests, one that unites the people and, at the same time, celebrates diversity while fostering economic prosperity. The referendum was not a competition just between Orange and Banana. It was a call to the Government to heed the people's voice on how they want to be governed.


Kenyans have to return to the drawing board to get new laws

Publication Date: 11/23/2005

Any efforts to revive the constitutional review process in future will require fresh legislation because the current Constitution of Kenya Review Act automatically repeals itself in 30 days.

The Wako Draft, the Bomas proposals, the Naivasha Accord by MPs and the Kilifi reports of Energy Minister Simeon Nyachae's Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution will all become part of the national archives. Even Mr Nyachae's House committee will die with the Act. The country will continue to be governed by the current Constitution, which has been amended several times.

Even the promise made by the Orange camp during their campaigns that they would agitate for the Bomas Draft requires another legislation to revive it.

The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission will, by law, stand dissolved on December 22 exactly 30 days from yesterday's declaration of the rejection of the proposed constitution. On the same day, the Act will also repeal itself and cease to exist in the Kenyan statutes.

During the one-month period, the CKRC chairperson, Mrs Abida Ali-Aroni, and the secretary, Mr Patrick Lumumba, are required to ensure that files and assets including vehicles are transferred to the parent Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Finance Minister David Mwiraria is required to determine the gratuity to be paid to commissioners and staff who have been with the CKRC for more than three years.

Any money in the CKRC Fund that will not have been spent will be transferred to the Consolidated Fund.

After the winding up of the CKRC, any future initiative for another constitution could rest with President Kibaki and, to some extent, Parliament.

The President has powers to appoint commissions to review laws.

And if he does so under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, such a move could be contested from all quarters. Questions could also be raised on whether the commission had the power to review the Constitution.

Politicians who have tasted the people's power to reject a process that they do not own could shoot it down.

A second alternative would be to convince the public and politicians to let the Law Reform Commission to drive the process. Kenyans could be allowed to give their suggestions to the commission. Although it appears to be a logical and less expensive alternative, politicians are unlikely to accept it without a fight.

The question of what next for the constitution is likely to be top of the agenda when Parliament resumes next Tuesday.

As a first option, MPs could agree to initiate amendments to the present Constitution.

The MPs could also initiate a motion to establish another committee to re-start the process. This would require a common understanding from both sides.

Whichever direction the process takes, it is now apparent that the result of the referendum will put the business of constitution making on hold for some time.