At this time when we are consumed by sterile debate on what a pair of ethnic kingpins and their respective mindless hordes owe or don’t owe each other, a man died to whom each and every Kenyan owes a debt of gratitude.
Were it not for former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, Kenya might well have gone the way of Rwanda, Cambodia, Somalia, Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and other countries that have at different times in the recent past been torn apart by civil war, genocide and ethnic pogroms.
Dr Annan’s persistence, tact and diplomacy was largely responsible for delivering Kenya, and all Kenyans, from the jaws of hades.
He brokered the peace deal that brought to a halt the 2007-2008 butchery in the wake of a disputed presidential election.
There is no telling what might have befallen this country had it not been pulled back from the brink. Kenya would probably not be in existence today.
Dr Annan shepherded the settlement as head of a multinational effort involving the African Union, the East African Community and the United Nations.
The outcome was deal that halted the violence and underpinned the peace through establishment of a Government of National Unity by which President Mwai Kibaki shared power with Opposition leader Raila Odinga coming into government as Prime Minister.
This is, of course, debatable but many insist that the forced ‘marriage’ produced the best government Kenya has ever had, one that, with all its frictions, came with built-in checks and balances and also delivered the landmark 2010 Constitution.
It therefore beggars belief that there are many in Kenyan leadership who not only refuse to acknowledge the role Dr Annan played in saving the country from itself but still bear deep grudges because they were called to account for their suspected roles in the shameful episode of post-election violence.
In that regard, the condolence message from President Uhuru Kenyatta was extremely churlish.
Mr Kenyatta completely refused to acknowledge the role played by Dr Annan in delivering this country from bloodshed and terror and securing the peace that left him a country worth running. He mourned (or pretended to mourn) Dr Annan merely as a former UN secretary-general, with not the slightest reference to his pivotal intervention at a most critical period in Kenya.
That statement lacked grace and class and was absolutely unbecoming of President Kenyatta, who is otherwise a decent and honourable man.
It read more like the immature outpourings of the uneducated rabble that often causes so much damage from within the President’s court.
Of course one might want justify President Kenyatta abiding bitterness and hostility towards Dr Annan.
He was, along with Deputy President William Ruto, among the six charged at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity out of Kenya’s descent into post-election violence.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were set free for lack of evidence following a spectacularly inept prosecution driven by then-ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his successor Fatou Bensouda.
It was a prosecution that should never have been launched, given the paucity of evidence and eventual freedom for the ‘Ocampo Six’ was predictable from the start.
President Kenyatta and his supporters obviously still harbour a great deal of bitterness. But they forget a few things.
First, Dr Annan was not the prosecutor; he merely conveyed Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s list of suspects following failure of the Kenyan government to establish a local inquiry into the violence.
Secondly, it was Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto who elected to be tried at The Hague, openly expressing their distrust of a local mechanism and opining that the ICC would move so slowly that it would never deliver justice. Their mantra at the time, borrowed from the legendary advertising slogan of a Scotch whisky, was “Don’t be Vague, ask for Hague”.
They went to The Hague, and thus have no one to blame but themselves.
Everything else about the prosecution being driven by forces out to derail their presidential quests and deliver State House to Mr Odinga is pure irrational balderdash and vicious political propaganda.
If anything, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto owe a debt of gratitude to Dr Annan, Mr Moreno-Ocampo, Ms Bensouda and anyone else they think played a part in the ICC indictments.
It was the case that not only reunited them after fighting on opposite sides in 2007 but also laid the platform for a spectacularly successful exploitation of the ‘victim’ narrative.
President Kenyatta may have his personal grudges but Kenya owes Dr Annan a more graceful send-off.
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