6 Mar 2006


Kenya is in the world media for all the wrong reasons, following the government's astounding raid on the Standard newspaper and KTN television. Masked policemen, rumours of "Russian" or "Bosnian" mercenaries, wholesale confiscation of computers, sabotaging equipment, burning piles of newspapers and an amazing admission by Kenya's hitherto respected police chief Hussein Ali that he neither knew about nor sanctioned the operation have left Kenyans and foreigners deeply disturbed. Citing "state security", the raids were sparked by reports that leading oppositionist Kalonzo Musyoka had secretly met President Mwai Kibaki. Such secret meetings in Kenya are so well-established that citizens are never surprised about them. The idea that schmoozing in State House between supposed "rivals" is a matter of "state security" has convinced nobody.

What is new is that in the relatively liberal state of media in Kenya, the internet was able to disseminate CCTV pictures of the mysterious raiders at work - something unthinkable a decade ago. Kenya is soon to pass the kind of puerile "freedom of the press" that used to give rise to media copy like this:

' Sources state that the perpetrator of the deed is a well known local tycoon from the area. However some say he could have been acting on orders from a higher authority.'

The burned out veteran generation of Kenya politicians are more and more like failing men, grasping feebly at a power which is passing to a younger generation, one that simply will not put up with "Big Man" politics any longer. The current government is like a rotting ship, the crew of which keep kicking new holes in the hull, as they sink. Few expect it to pass more months without a vote of no confidence - despite our bloated, hyena-like Members of Parliament, who have no wish to give up their enormous salaries and privileges for the hustle of a campaign.

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