Mutahi Ngunyi: Annan, please stop patronising Kenyans

Today I will play the devil’s advocate on Mr Kofi Annan. Without wasting time, I will call him an agent of confusion. He started well, and we respect him for the Peace Accord.

However, his reform agenda is top-down, arrogant and naive. Instead of taking us forward, it is holding us back. And because we respect him, we do not disagree. The result: We remain confused. In fact, we are going round in circles getting irritated and achieving nothing. We are like this puppy in a story told by C.L. James.

In this fable, an old dog saw a puppy chasing its tail and asked, “why are you chasing your tail?” The young puppy replied, “I have mastered philosophy; I have solved the problems of the universe which no dog before me has solved; I have learnt that the best thing for a dog is happiness, and that happiness is in my tail. Therefore, I am chasing it, and when I catch it, I shall be happy.”

The old and seasoned dog stared at the little puppy and responded, “my son, I, too, have paid attention to the problems of the universe in my weak ways and I have formed some opinions.

I have realised that happiness is a fine thing for a dog. And that happiness is in my tail. However, I have also noticed that when I chase after it, it keeps running away from me, but when I go about my business as usual, it follows me.”

Like the little dog, we spent one year chasing the “Annan reforms”. But the more we chased them, the more elusive they became. And the reason is simple: these reforms are not about healing; they are about blaming. They are not about restoration; they are about retribution and sackings.

Like chasing the tail, they are minimalist. Yet what we crave as a country is to be taken from “crisis to cairos”.

Cairos is a place of re-birth, a moment of renewal, transformation and change. And if we pursue this place, the “Annan reforms” will follow -- like the tail follows the dog. But our leaders cannot take us to this cairos if they are in chains. They must liberate themselves from the bondage of Kofi Annan.

I say so because it appears like we have two principals and a grand chairman. Now the grand chairman, Mr Annan, has assumed the position of chief principal. And this is why he is summoning them like school boys to Geneva for a meeting.

To put it mildly, this is bad manners on the part of Mr Annan. Or what do you think?

Back to my assertion that Mr Annan’s reforms are top-down, arrogant and naïve, I beg your indulgence to demonstrate. One, we said a resounding “no” to a local tribunal. We discussed this in our homes, in our worship places and everywhere.

Our verdict was unanimous: Hague Express. Even our greedy MPs agreed with us and voted for The Hague. And then came Mr Annan. This man is not a Kenyan and is not elected. But he disagreed with the will of the people.

His position? Kenyans are wrong! Now he wants a local tribunal by any means necessary. My question to the country is this: who is he? What gives him the right to contradict us and push for what we rejected?

This approach is arrogant and top-down. And I am inspired here by a little book known as Tao Te Ching on leadership wisdom. According to this book, “ . . . all streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it power.

If you want to govern the people (therefore), you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.” For Mr Annan to succeed in his reforms, he must humbly place himself below the people.

If he operates from the heavens in Geneva or wherever, he will fail for a fact! My point? He should not patronise us. He should send the Waki List to The Hague pronto. Or what do Kenyans think?

Two, the naiveté of Mr Annan’s reforms is in the constitutional review and the electoral changes. On the constitution, he has taken us one step backwards with the idea of a panel of experts.

And my hunch is that this panel will fail. From our woolly conditions, I doubt that a new constitution can emerge. More so because constitutions are made in abrasive times of crisis; and in the absence of a crisis, they create one.

Regarding the electoral reforms, I have a question: In the unlikely event of President Kibaki’s inability to execute the mandate of his high office, who would conduct the resultant election? No one.

Samuel Kivuitu is no more, and the entire electoral machinery has been disbanded. In sum, the “Annan reforms” have placed us in a constitutionally reckless place. And although a commission is being concocted by Parliament, I am nervous about it.

It will not be prepared enough to handle the turns and twists of the 2012 elections. In fact, in its naiveté and rawness, it will be manipulated galore. And on this score, our situation could be worse.

But if Mr Annan has outlived his usefulness and is overstepping his mandate, what do we do with him? What do we do with a hero who saved our country from collapse? I have a thought from history.

A brave mercenary soldier saved the city of Siena from an external invader. Thrilled by his brevity, the citizens of this town wanted to reward him handsomely.

No amount of money or honour could compensate his selfless actions. The citizens thought of making him Lord of the City, but even that, they decided was not good enough. At last, one citizen stood before the people’s assembly and suggested “... let us kill him and then worship him as our patron saint”.

So they killed him and worshipped him as a saint. I suggest we do the same thing with Mr Annan. We should “kill” him from our politics and worship him as “saint Annan of Kumasi”!

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One Response to Mutahi Ngunyi: Annan, please stop patronising Kenyans

E.Kairu said...

Keep it Mutahi, you really need a present, your article is fully of wisdom, we better "KILL" him and worship him as “saint Annan of Kumasi”!