- Posted December 11, 2013 by
Kempton Park, South Africa
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Quincy Timberlake: Uhuru Kenyatta jeered and booed at Mandela Memorial
Kenyans are suffering from Kenyamnesia. Are they risking getting diagnosed with Sycophancy Syndrome Disorder? Are their paramount chiefs deliberately contaminating them with this disease along tribal lines? My message to them: The battery of flattery received and enjoyed as lottery by a man from the coterie just flattens his growth inconspicuously, but consistently. Uhuru’s sycophants must take responsibility and take up the mantle of uniting all Kenyans lest they add salt on wounds and boils that have turned into pus after years of “waiting to exhale.”
A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. This cannot happen when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. I detest tribalism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a Kikuyu man or a Luo man. If President Uhuru Kenyatta is great leader, he must silence his overzealous sycophants who are now reigning the social media. As me and my wife are flying out of South Africa back to Australia, this is my conclusion of what took place in Johannesburg under my watch.
Uhuru was booed and jeered at a memorial to anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. The hostile reaction from the ninety thousand-strong unruly crowd erupted as Kenyatta’s name was mentioned. A point of correction beloved fellows, people who seemingly cheered for the president are a group of Kenyans who were pre-paid to be among mourners and engage in that activity but were later removed under the orders of Cyril Ramaphosa.
A Kenya’s online newspaper Kenyan Daily Post with its propaganda engines in full gear, made the ridiculous assertion that Uhuru was cheered by the South African crowd as a “true African hero” and that “although he (Uhuru) was not given a chance to address the enthusiastic crowd, the world would be speaking another language if President Kenyatta would have addressed them.”
This blatant but poor attempt at painting Uhuru as some sort of hero would be laughable if it was not so insulting to those who have truly made sacrifices for the sake of the common man – people such as Nelson Mandela. Let us speak the truth here. Uhuru, born and bred in the lap of luxury, to a family whose continuous amassing of immense wealth has meant the inevitable impoverishment of a majority of Kenyans over decades, is the anti-thesis of a hero – sober minded Kenyans and South Africans know that. Being the child of a former president does not make one a hero – read, Joseph Kabila, Kim Jong Un and others. Winning an election does not make one a hero – Adolf Hitler won the elections in the 1930s in Germany with a landslide. Being a “young” president (Uhuru is 52 years young) does not make one a hero - Gaddafi took power at 27. Let us not forget that he is currently facing charges of crimes against humanity at an international court of law. His being elected whether validly or not, as president of Kenya was his golden opportunity to radically right the wrongs of the past, to create a legacy as one who actually united Kenyans, to do something that Nelson Mandela, a man who unified a radically divided South Africa, would have been proud of. Instead, Uhuru has gone even further than his predecessors, entrenching the very vices that have plagued a once promising nation and kept it from joining the ranks of the world’s respected countries. The very vices that Mandela fought against, even sacrificing his very life to combat, Uhuru has embraced unabashedly.
Uhuru’s Jubilee government is preparing to face violent unrest and protests over impunity, persisting poverty, toxic crime and unemployment. His rulership is black colonialism at its best. There is no freedom of expression, no right of assembly, no right of peaceful demonstrations, the thwarting of media and journalistic freedom, the highest public wage bill in Kenya’s history, toxically deteriorating security, the diminishing of women status in the society at an alarming rate, government micromanagement of marriages, famine, tribalism, extra-judicial killings, rampant corruption, social media threats and intimidation, government supported militias, MPs awarding themselves more power by compromising the Constitution and the sidelining of a majority of communities in regional development. Under the Jubilee government, Kenya has plunged into an abyss of uncertainty and despair.
The only leader who received rapturous, unequivocal cheers from the 90 000 strong crowd gathered at the high-profile ceremony in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium was Barack Obama. It is so embarrassing for the diehard sycophants to fall for a picture of handshake between Presidents Obama and Uhuru as if that was a Ballon D’Or. That is a photo deliberately posed for to mentally thrash his opponents earlier celebrations that he wasn’t invited to the funeral ceremony and that Barry Obama was a friend of a government he did not “approve” of. Handshakes mean nothing, do miracles in terms of change and like the late icon Mandela who pulled dignitaries to his funeral, pull world dignitaries to Kenya. Stop wasting time and money to fool Kenyans, rise up from that nitwittedness. Kenya is not a golf club, it is a sovereign republic with human being with rights living inside it. It is a UN member.
If Uhuru’s sycophants insist that he got a muted cheer from the South African crowd, the fact that Joseph Kabila of the DRC and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe both got cheers leads to an uncomfortable conclusion for Uhuru’s sycophants. The world is littered with Congolese and Zimbabwean refugees, all produced thanks to the dictatorial and oppressive leadership of Kabila and Mugabe. Whatever one’s views on Mugabe’s war on white supremacy, it is undeniable that he has run his own country to the ground. If Uhuru can be placed in the same basket as these two, then Kenyans have much to worry about. The people who cheered for Mogabe were his sycophants among mourners that were paid to do so.
Just like Zimbabwe, Kenya is facing its share of lethal sanctions which will bite down to the marrow of the State’s nucleus. It is the same ICC that they are underrating that will be used as a launch-pad for hard times ahead for an already struggling economy. Uhuru’s only way to evade such pre-planned arrows is to ignore the advice of his advisors-cum-greedy tribesmen, and to play the game as the mighty financier wants. Presenting himself at the ICC will lead to enormous gains for him at the world’s stage. I will have a new found faith in him if he dares this incinerator test. I will give him plum support if he shows up for all his court appearances from the start to the end just as his loyal fellow-accused Deputy President William Ruto has done. If he does not do so, I am afraid that Ruto’s ratings may rise above Kenyatta’s already dismal ones across the nation.
Like his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma who has ruled Africa's biggest economy since 2009, had been hoping to get a boost from the wave of national emotion triggered by Mandela's death. But in a dramatic unexpected twist, he suffered major public humiliation in front of other world leaders just six months before national elections. Not only was he booed when he first entered the crowded stadium, but each time his name was mentioned he was booed. Worse still, he was booed as he prepared to address the crowd. Zuma should not have been surprised. During his tenure, he failed the land of Azania in several unforgiveable ways - rampant corruption, deepening poverty, his own generous dipping into South Africa’s public coffers, his failure to fight HIV/Aids, his tirelessly defense of Libya’s authoritarian and bloody clamp-down on peaceful demonstrators during the Libyan revolt. He went so far as to order South African Airways planes to secure the Gaddafi family flights to exile. Gaddafi would have been given asylum by Belarus, Cuba, Venezuela or South Africa when even his Arab counterparts were unwilling to house him.
In short, Mandela succeeded, but his successors failed to keep the hard-won gains of democracy. Mandela disliked his successor, Thabo Mbeki, an AIDS denialist who refused to distribute life-extending drugs in the nation with the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. Because of that, according to a Harvard University estimate, some 365,000 people died needlessly, including Mandela's son, Makgatho. The death gave Mandela a new reason for activism with his beloved friend, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
He had hoped that South Africa's current president, Zuma, a man who had received only four years of schooling before he was sent as a political prisoner to Robben Island, would have the common touch that Mbeki lacked. But Zuma, the ANC's former head of intelligence, does little to reduce poverty and is remarkably wealthy for someone on a politician's salary.
He shot Marikana miners with no remorse. He formed an inquiry which did not even give genuine reasons for the killings. The miners were striking for a reboot of their livelihoods. They wanted an increase of their wages to be able to keep up with the daily cost of living pressures.
Mandela had a vision, Mandela lived that vision. But what Zuma speaks, he does not live reflecting the mood of the Zuma critics in the stadium. He should do the honorable thing and resign. Zuma and senior ANC officials remained stony faced during the booing and organisers at one point used a choir to try to drown out the hostile reaction. The mourning for Mandela has distracted attention from corruption scandals affecting Zuma and his administration. But memories of the former president's five-year tenure up to 1999 have reminded many just how distant Zuma's South Africa still is from the "Rainbow Nation" ideal of shared prosperity and social peace that Mandela proclaimed after his 1994 election. Like Kenya, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies on the planet.
I know what Mandela felt especially being separated from his family. I suffered the same fate while languishing in Kenya’s prisons. Being in prison shielded me from certain pains but robbed me of the warmth of a young and new loving family and the democracy that I had begun fighting for with the goal of creating new wealth equal distribution arrangements unlike the greed and disharmony Kenyans now suffer. While in jail, I thought often of what to write in a book that would one day take Kenyans and world audience by storm. The book is closer to its final touches and is in the hands of an Australian publishing house. It is title is Kenyapocalypse – The March of the Cockamamy. Kenya was once an emerging global military base, a UN base, a global education hub and an economic power house which was to attract investors after being visited by the likes of Bill Gates and others. The word, “Apocalypse” means, the disclosure of knowledge or a lifting of the veil or a revelation. It involves a major confrontation between good and evil at the end of this age, a coming Millennium to follow, and a final confrontation whereby the wicked are judged, the righteous are rewarded and eternity begins. Put “Kenya” and “Apocalypse” together, and you get the first word of the title of my book, Kenyapocalypse, which Kenyans are yet to taste and smell. Faced with conditions similar to ours, our neighbouring countries have gone up in flames. We can only be so lucky and I’m afraid our luck has run out. Kenyans are yet to wake up to the real Uhuru. The question is: are they waking up to the real Uhuru who is their president now or the real Uhuru (independence) which they have never tasted but have tested? Time is ripe for this sleeping giant of a question to be answered.
Cockamamy is a child of power. Power corrupts and the power to command frequently causes failure to think. A duty is to keep well-informed … and to resist the insidious spell of wooden-headedness. A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. I detest tribalism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a Kikuyu man or a Luo man, Kalenjin woman or a Gusii woman and Miji Kenda man or a Kamba man.