Mungiki: Things Fall Apart

President Mwai Kibaki’s Madaraka Day outburst against the Mungiki sect was an act of escapism and hollow bravado, geared at glossing over much deeper and wider societal problems. Even in passing, his Madaraka Day remarks cannot be treated with any shred of seriousness, given the failure of his Government to take any action on the perpetrators of the multi-billion shilling Anglo-Leasing scam of 2004 and equally, the failure of his Government to take action
on the criminals who caused damage to the offices and press of the Standard Group in the high profile March 2006 raid, among just two still outstanding matters.

Two of the alleged masterminds of the Standard Group raid, foreigners no less, continued to operate with impunity in the country thereafter, before being belatedly deported following another high profile holdup at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport, yet the president chose to insult the people of Kenya on Madaraka Day by declaring that his Government would not tolerate or harbour any kinds of criminal activity. Were Anglo-Leasing and the Standard Group raid the work of “Mungiki”?

Moreover, and tragically so, Mungiki is just part reflection of the near absolute manner in which this country is now overrun by marauding gangs and murderous militia, whose actions are seldom known to the wider public. Just before the crush of KQ 507 in May of this year, a gang of thugs gunned down 11 people near Kitale town in inexplicable gangland manner. This matter was quickly overshadowed by the KQ 507 plane crush, and has not been addressed since.
Incidences such as this have in any case been happening in all parts of the country for several
years now.

Numerous militia now control and administer different parts of the country, terrorising, maiming, stealing and raping, and are no different from Congo based militia such as “Intarahamwe” or “Banyamulenge”. The security apparatus in all parts of the country have
been heavily compromised by these gangs and militia, or are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude, in areas where the security apparatus has resisted being compromised. A case in point are the July 2005 killings in Marsabit district where there stands proof of repeated memos to the central Government, both describing a deteriorating situation and appealing for

In areas such as Nairobi’s peri-urban Ngong division, it is a known fact that inebriated gangs operate in groups of up to one hundred at night and implore residents to scream as much as they want during break-ins. This only makes things worse, and co-operation is often the best defence. Numerous overwhelmed residents in areas such as Ngong have now chosen to either sell their properties, shift, leave their gates and main entrances open at night to lessen the damage, or opted to pay protection money to the gangs or militia. It is a state of futility that the
vast majority find themselves in, and it is in extremely poor taste for President Kibaki to brush all this aside and instead make bombastic remarks about only part of much more serious and much wider phenomenon.

In any case, groupings such as “Mungiki” are the result of extreme societal chauvinism, inequality, insensitivity and prejudice, going back several years. They have grown from strength to strength, fueled by society’s failure to adapt to changing times and changing realities. The terms in generous use at the moment, such as “crush Mungiki” and “deal with Mungiki once and for all” are in themselves a grim and sordid reflection of how detached we are from reality.
“Mungiki” and other similar groupings, are the Kenyanequivalent of organised crime elsewhere in the world, such as the Sicilian Mafia, the Italian Mafia, the Mafia in America (“The Mob”), “Commora”, the Russian Mafia and “Yakuza” in Japan. These are powerful and lethal organisations with wide and far reaching tentacles. If the American and Italian Governments
have been unable to “crush the Mafia” and/or “deal with the Mafia once and for all”, it is futile for President Kibaki to declare that he will squarely deal with “Mungiki”.

The line between organised crime, big business and Government is in any case extremely blurred. One of the most celebrated cases of this involves the high profile Kennedy dynasty in America. The Mob played a key role in the fortune that family patriarch Ambassador Joseph Kennedy made in the motion picture industry in Hollywood. Ambassador Kennedy also got
heavy support from The Mob in the 1960 election victory of his son, former President John F. Kennedy. It doesn’t stop there. Despite the Warren Commission’s dismissal of a conspiracy in the assassination of President Kennedy and the ridiculous adoption by the same commission of the zigzag trajectory of the bullet that eventually killed Kennedy, a strong conspiracy theory of the Mafia’s role in the assassination still looms, the motive being that Kennedy had made up his
mind to bring down the Mafia. What’s more is that Kennedy shared a mistress, Judith Exner, with then Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana, and Judith was said to be one of the key moles that the Mafia had in the White House. Besides, the Zapruder tape taken by an amateur cameraman on the day of Kennedy’s assassination, 22nd November 1963, clearly shows a clear shot to Kennedy’s head, the work of a high calibre rifle even by today’s standards, and certainly
the work of a professional hitman. There is no comparison whatsoever between Ronald Reagan’s
attempted assassination in 1981, and John F. Kennedy’s assassination of 1963. Many of us reacted with scornful disbelief when the Kenya Government initially suggested that former Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko had committed suicide following his February 1990
demise, and it is clearly not just the Kenya Government that goofs. One would expect much better from any American Government. What’s more is that John F. Kennedy’s younger brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was known to have even less patience for The Mob, and had to be stopped even before he became president.

Another example of the large presence of organised crime in society, is the intrigue surrounding the sudden unexpected death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, as captured in David Yallop’s bestseller “In God’s Name”. In the said David Yallop classic, one detects a determined effort by Albino Luciano (Pope John Paul I), to rid the Vatican of any Mafia connections and dealings, such as Paul Marcinkus (“God’s Banker”), and collapsed Italian bank, “Banco Ambrosiano”. Pope John Paul I paid for this with his life, and Churches in Kenya have no idea what they are talking about when they tell the Kenya Government to immediately crush “Mungiki”.

Comparisons of “Mungiki” with the Sicilian Mafia or the American Mafia do not however start and end there, and this is probably where our greater concern should lie. “Mungiki” clearly also has far-left political leanings and can in this respect be also compared to radical organisations such as “Hezbollah”, “Hamas”, “Taliban”, “Tupac Amaru”, “Fatah al-Islam”, “Abu Sayyaf” and “Black September”. “Mungiki” therefore has the combined features of an organised crime outfit
such as the Sicilian Mafia, as well left wing rebels with a political cause, such as “Black September”, and it is very unfortunate that we have chosen to ignore this.

President Kibaki, his Government and indeed all us, should therefore desist from using terms like “crush” because we are clearly dealing with phenomenon that we are little aware. We shall rather engage the likes of “Mungiki” in “talks” and “discussions”, in the same way that the Israelis engaged the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), and in the same way that the Colombian Government engaged the Colombian drug cartels, including Pablo Escobar’s Medellin
cartel. “Mungiki” is not a fairy tale, but grim reality that can tear this country apart in ways that
we never imagined. Half of this country is under the siege of “Mungiki” type militia and the other half has put it’s money into collapsing pyramid schemes, and the best that President Kibaki can offer are hollow threats and a disputable 6.1 % growth rate. This country is in a terrible crisis and we are not helping matters by living in denial.

On Valentine’s Day 1929, another high profile, well known and ruthless Chicago mobster, Al Capone, ordered high profile executions on a rival gang, in what has come to be known as “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”, and what certainly ranks as one of the most brutal warnings and statements of intent of all time. “Mungiki” has done precisely this with it’s recent beheadings and none of us should make things worse by further provoking them.

By Michael M K

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One Response to Mungiki: Things Fall Apart

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