Wycliffe Muga: Ocampo will not Meet Expectations - The Star

It's hard to remember the last time when the expected arrival of a foreigner generated such anticipation in this country.

Maybe it was the keenly awaited arrival of Kofi Annan early last year when we were steadily sliding towards some form of civil war and needed outside intervention.

But we were a shocked and traumatised people then - and much has changed since. So why is Moreno Ocampo's expected visit considered very important?

Will he bring food for our starving millions in the semi-arid areas? Will he rebuild the bridges and houses recently washed away by floods? Or does he perhaps have some grand plan for the resettlement of the IDPs as well as those who will soon be displaced when the Mau Forest evictions begin in earnest?

No, it is none of these. What Ocampo is supposedly coming here to do is to "end impunity". To begin a process that will allegedly see the high and mighty brought down to the dust; seized and placed in handcuffs; and marched off to The Hague to be tried for "crimes against humanity" or some other such grievous offences.

And there are those who argue that he already has all the evidence he could possibly need, to see all this through. And that the sight of handcuffs on wrists which at present wear Rolex watches can only be a matter of time.

In the circumstances, it may seem almost unpatriotic to cast doubt on the likely consequences of Ocampo's intervention. After all, it is indelibly in our historical records that our elections are often accompanied by organised violence and mass evictions, and if there is any chance that this man can help us end this shameful tradition, then we should support him unconditionally.

Still, I must express my reservation. First, as to whether he wants the same thing that we want.

And secondly, whether his methods will work at all, even if we all want the same thing.

As concerns his intention, I would say that the famous Argentinian is out to make history. He has said himself that he wants to "make Kenya an example". Thus, he is in pursuit of abstract justice, and Kenya just happens to be a convenient vessel for this purpose. He is not really interested in what happens to the country after he has successfully brought some of our more prominent politicians to trial.

What he wants is to be able to tell the rest of Africa, perhaps the rest of the developing world, "Do you see what I did to those leading politicians in Kenya? Well, you better behave yourselves, or I will do the same to you."

The election-related violence in many developing nations happens mostly because politicians believe they can get away with it. But also because appealing to ethnic sentiment - particularly if you can inject a massive dose of victimhood into the mix - it is often a surer path to victory than trying to unite diverse communities and peoples.

For victims always believe that they were acting in self-defence when they committed whatever atrocities are attributed to them.

And this brings us to the nuts and bolts of where think Ocampo - with the best intentions in the world - cannot fail to disappoint.

Consider, for a start, the mass eviction, murder, arson attacks, thefts and destruction of property, and so on, that was inflicted on members of the Kikuyu community in the northern Rift Valley. There has long been a suggestion in some quarters that some leading Kalenjin politicians in that region actively planned and financed these operations.

Now if any such leader should be taken before some tribunal, either here in Kenya or in The Hague, do you seriously imagine that there will be a single Kalenjin witness coming forward for the prosecution? Is it not more likely that the witnesses will all be Kikuyus or perhaps from some other tribe? And if this leader is found guilty, will any Kalenjin really believe that justice has been done?

Or will they instead see this as yet another case of the Kikuyu trampling on 'the Kalenjin - a trampling that they will no doubt look forward to repaying at some future date.

The thing to bear in mind is that the schisms that run through our country are so deep, that something which up to now has been said of the Middle East protagonists is equally true of rival Kenyan communities: One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Muga comments on topical issues.

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