Unboxing President Putin: the Emerging Details of Ukraine’s Invasion

Courtesy image: “I am on my way to help Ukraine”

In President Putin’s actions this week, it is either that humanity is regressing or he is a specimen out of World War I and II time-space.

The President must have been disappointed by the response he got from his adversaries when he attacked Ukraine this week.

Clearly, Ukraine was just an excuse for a greater war project. The President is not even able to justify his surprise attack.

The President must have prepared for an all-out global war. If it were not, we would not be talking of Ukrainian civilians taking up arms to defend their government; they would have been whipped to submission in a matter of hours.

The President, assuming he is the one encapsulated in World War time-space, will likely find out that humanity has made leaps on all fronts.

Whereas the President would believe that he is a liberator, all global – political, economic, and social -indices indicate otherwise.

At home, Russia’s enterprises, given the global political ramifications of the President’s actions, are likely to find it hard to compete.

At the global scene, given the interconnectedness, the President will likely face public backlash. His legacy will be irreparably tainted.

Mr. President, FYI, the evolved humanity, as demonstrated by the pandemic experience, has an inbuilt demand for accountability and is global in span.

It would be difficult, even for the President’s traditional supporters, to support him this time.

The President’s curriculum vitae, especially his achievements in the KGB, are impressive.

His story, however, appears to be that of a person stuck in time and space.

Is it not amazing how, for example, people get stuck in the good old days to the exclusion of the glorious present or the hope of tomorrow?

Apparently, President Putin is attempting to relive the good old days in a fast-evolving global village.

Can mental illness affect a powerful President? During the reign of President Donald Trump, this issue was widely discussed. The answer is yes because presidents are human.

Narcissism, for example, an apparently harmless condition in which an individual thinks highly of himself to the exclusion of others, ends up hurting many people – family, friends, and associates – who transact with the victim.

A narcissist may, for example, be convinced of a call to liberate others from all sorts of real or perceived threats.

In President Donald Trump’s case, for example, some believed that his ego needed too much pampering for a person of his stature.

In the case of President Putin, the fear is that he believes that he is responsible for the fall of the greater Russia.

The President has not, apparently, forgiven himself for not preventing the fall of the USSR. Russians could probably love him for that. The world has, however, moved.

Whereas open system societies have mechanisms of checking leaders with extreme views, Russia, under President Putin, is not as open.

President Putin’s Russia criteria for selecting friends are, furthermore, unclear.

The President has, however, shunned relations with the West, preferring to retain much of the cold war rhetoric.

Putin’s African friends – themselves grappling with myriads of social, economic, and political challenges – will find it hard to support Putin’s priorities at a time when the pandemic is easing.

Supporting the Ukrainian people is the best that the world can do. It is said that the way a society treats its most vulnerable people demonstrates the kind of a society it is.


The Fragmented Gikuyu Finally Caught Flat-Footed in Kenya

Jomo Kenyatta

The Gikuyu – commonly pronounced Kikuyu – people have traditionally been deprived of central political leadership. The resulting community’s fragmentation is responsible for the growth of chieftainship.

The Chief’s authority was limited to a geographical area such as a ridge, or a clan or group of clans. Only some non-political leaders’ authority, such as that of seers, transcended the fragmentations.

The British colonists, who have had the greatest recorded impact on the Gikuyu, took advantage of this fragmentation to penetrate the community’s territory as one chief after the other fell for the colonists’ deceptions and bribes in return for loyalty.

The Gikuyu leaders arguably sold their peoples’ freedom for a song. By the time they woke up from their nightmare, it was too late. With the freedom already gone, the community was awed by the muthung’u.

The white man’s immense efficient use of land for production was a far cry to what the native Gikuyu farmer had ever dreamt of. The Gikuyu’s admiration of the White man is evident in their subsequent adoption of the western culture up to this day.

Whereas some western practices – for example, the political empowerment of women such as the legendary dictator Wang’u wa Makeri who used to rule while seated on the back of men – were consonant with the Gikuyu culture, a lot more were not.

Essentially, the chief in the Gikuyu culture is a charismatic leader. In the absence of charisma, the Gikuyu community is deprived of leadership.

From Jomo and Uhuru, and Kibaki in the postcolonial era to Waiyaki wa Hinga and Wang’u wa Makeri in the pre-colonial era, the Gikuyu love their leaders charismatic.

The strong influence of the community’s social thread developed out of the desire for self-preservation from common enemies such as the Masai and later the British. 

As a result, and in the absence of centralized political leadership, the Gikuyu community’s pulse was – and is – open to charismatic influence.

History shows that no matter your economic muscle, the Gikuyu will not adorn you with the crown before you demonstrate charisma. 

Former president Daniel Moi’s attempt to push for Uhuru Kenyatta’s rise in the community failed until Uhuru demonstrated his charisma ten years later after the initial push in 2002.

On the other hand, the community readily supported economically-disadvantaged but charismatic leaders, such as Jomo Kenyatta, whose family of birth had no political influence. 

Currently, the leadership vacuum is evident by the fact that no Gikuyu individual has demonstrated the needed level of charisma to win the community’s universal backing. The few available are, well, chiefs.

My belief is that Kenya is better off with a non-Gikuyu leader. In the early to mid-nineties, as a student of Maseno University, then a constituent college of Moi University, I remember one senior colleague wondering at our indifference to campus politics.

“If you allow a non-Kikuyu to be elected student leader,” he cautioned, “you will cry with one eye.” Apparently, only Gikuyu student leaders had previously held the position. 

Two of my colleagues took the gauntlet and announced their candidatures. Their lack of preparation saw them lose terribly to a Luo candidate who went to perform so well that for the couple of terms he was in control, there was no single student strike.

I was impressed by the charismatic Luo candidate’s swagger – close to Obama’s – and genuine concern for student’s welfare. 

If my friends had won, I am pretty sure that it would have been a tumultuous one-term reign that would have been the fodder of the bar talk on the night of losing.

Think about that.


Felicien Kabuga: International Justice on the Cross

Google Images

Although eastern Africa is a host to the world’s most severe conflicts, the Rwanda genocide, with close to a million deaths within a hundred days, was a showstopper.

The execution of the war crime is delivered with rudimentary, machete, technology, tribal or ethnic cultural indoctrination, and designed to inflict maximum (sensory and emotional) anguish to the victim.

The victims, ‘them-now,’-‘next-season-you’, keep trading places. No one could blame the other for the situation. The international justice system is the only hope for the most vulnerable poor of all gender and across all ages.

Besides hosting, and bearing the brunt of, the Alshabab terror group, eastern Africa has also witnessed brutal civil conflict in South Sudan, over and above, endemic politically inspired conflicts in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Felicien Kabuga is a specimen of east African politicians. They, initially, delve into public life with seemingly altruistic intentions. Then somewhere along the road, they begin to eat their people.

The game plan begins with mobilizing masses along with issues of concern. In Rwanda, for example, the issue had been the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana.

Once the politicians have used the masses to ascend to positions of influence, the next stage of the game plan is eliminating any voice of dissent. Executions and forced disappearances are common.

The stage, with the resultant fear at this point, is set for economic looting. The spillover effects trickle to all political and social sectors. And the cycle replicates with precision.   

In the 1970s, President Idi Amin of Uganda, faced with a cash crunch, asked the governor of Uganda’s Central Bank (the Bank of Uganda), “why is there no money in the country?” without caring to listen to the winding response, Amin blurted, “…then print more money!”

Recently, South Sudan, which, following a protracted rebellion, gained autonomy from Sudan in 2011, had a devastating fall out among the political elite over the sharing of the crude oil export loot.

In 2008, Kenyan politicians, smarting from a recently successfully mobilized masses for the removal of a then decades old authoritarianism of President Daniel Toroitich, could not agree on subsequent election results.

Within a couple of days, over one thousand people, most of them attempting to free to perceived friendly zones, were hacked to death with machetes.

For the abundance of, among other natural resources, gold in DRC, it is sold in regular stores alongside other fast-moving consumer goods such as coffee, tea leaves, beans, salt, and sugar. Theirs, although they just managed an election that brought a new president, is a story of poverty amidst plenty.

There is no need to mention Somalia was devoid of a functional government for decades, has seen the growth of an international terror network base led by the infamous Alshabab.

Burundi had to rely on international pressure to get a president who was stuck in the office against constitutional limits.

In Tanzanian, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi, founded by the Nelson Mandela of eastern Africa, Dr. Julius Nyerere, and the base for the increasingly authoritarian president John Maghufuli, has made headlines by defying the World Health Organization’s (WHO) protocol for the management of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The next step in the game plan of the eastern Africa politician builds a financial chest to sustain the network for the preservation of the loot. Offshore accounts and property are set in tax havens and the developed world of Europe, Asia, and or America.

Felicien Kabuga – on the run for more than a couple of decades and who, after fleeing Rwanda through Kenya, was traced in Germany and arrested in France – is, therefore, a homeboy.

In eastern Africa where Felicien comes from, there is nothing strange about a war crime. The elite are the perpetrators, the jury, and the judges.

If the international Justice system, activated for Rwanda in 1994 and Kenya after 2008, fails, once again, to deliver the sense of justice to the victims of the ruthless massacre in the hinterlands of eastern Africa, the cycle is inevitable.