Skip to comments.T-shirt that scared our leaders silly (Kenya's Odinga)
Posted on 12/21/2008 5:43:38 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
On Jamhuri Day, citizens attempting to protest the current cost of living and link it to the refusal of parliamentarians to pay tax on their allowances, were rounded up in numbers in several cities and towns.
While many of those detained were released without charge, three remained in detention without charge beyond the legal limit of 24 hours in Nairobi.
One of them, who had been badly beaten up by the police, was hospitalised under guard.
A further four remained in detention in Garissa until the following Monday, when they were finally taken to court to be charged with creating a public disturbance. They refused to plea, filing a constitutional reference on the illegal detention.
The protest had been intended to be peaceful. The intention was creative and simple wear black T-shirts with protest messages to the official Jamhuri Day celebrations.
The response was unquestionably heavy-handed. President Mwai Kibaki and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga watched impassively as the scene unfolded before them.
Nothing was said, except by the president who, forgoing any effort at leadership, basically dismissed the goings-on by saying, Let those who want to fight continue fighting.
The whole scene could have played out entirely differently. All the president or the prime minister needed to do was ask what was going on, ask someone in a black T-shirt what the point of the protest was, and assure them that the government was listening. And the tension would have de-escalated.
But no. That seemingly simple conflict-management technique not just to listen but hear, re-assure, continue was thrown away in favour of the forced removal of peoples clothing, the arrests and detentions of citizens across the country.
And it got worse. A student distributing T-shirts for a similar protest during last Fridays university graduation ceremonies was also detained.
And several members of Bunge la Wananchi, one of the organisations involved in the protest, continued to be detained and charged with incitement to violence.
All in all, a phenomenal waste of effort, emotion, energy and time that could more usefully have been deployed elsewhere.
But not a waste for those organising the protest demand for the T-shirts has soared among ordinary Kenyans frustrated by rising food and fuel prices and the apparent indifference of the majority of the leadership.
Thus, if the intent of the over-the-top reaction was to contain protest through fear, intimidation and undeserved punishment, it has not been realised.
The questions multiply, meanwhile: Who is driving the security response? Is it intelligence who (one would imagine) could have assessed the threat posed by the T-shirt campaign to genuine security and dismissed it? Is it the vilified Police Commissioner? Is it the Minister of Internal Security? Or, as it is rumoured, the Head of the Civil Service? Or the president and the prime minister themselves?
The bigger question is what underlies this security response. Is it a genuine belief that organised civic protest is a real danger to security?
Or that organised civic protest can only be expressed politely and essentially privately through engagement with the line ministries and parliamentary committees responsible for actually generating policy proposals on resolving our economic grievances?
If the former, I would suggest that the real danger to security is stifling organising civic protest. When any state removes all possibilities for peaceful public expression of anger and frustration, it only puts less peaceful options on the table.
We all know how fragile our genuine security situation is. But that fragility is not endangered by those seeking to create avenues for ordinary citizens to vent their grievances.
We are moving towards the end of this year on a sad and shaky note, with our basic freedoms and rights seemingly at stake. Leadership is lacking that seems to recognise and seek to transcend this. Let us hope the time out will help it recover itself.
I'm sorry, I thought this was about America.
What do the t-shirts say?
“The intention was creative and simple wear black T-shirts with protest messages to the official Jamhuri Day celebrations.”
That's 0bama's brother ain't it?
The one The One campaigned for while he was an elected official here?
That Prime Minister Raila Odinga?
Yes. Push the keyword Odinga, or Kenya, to see what he has been up to.
LOL! Very clever. (I think Odinga’s a cousin, officially, but Barack Sr. got around, so ...)
I believe it is his cousin.
I assume he’s training his American brother in the finer points of population control.
I thought they had the same baby daddy...
I think that one lives in a hut on $12.00 a year...
WE need a FREEP this spring and we need black tee shirts with silk screened birth certificate on the front and back. We can carry signs that are copies of the birth certificate on the tee shirts. Don’t have to say a thing. Just be sure Fox News has a camera there.
Similar to the one here.
If anyone ever mentions Obama’s Civilian Public Defense Force it is helpful to remind them where he got the idea. I’ve seen video of the Kenyans in action. There were military stationed to prevent a protest from reaching a park, but the protesters never got there because the “defense force” got to the civilians long before they could get there.
Obama Senior is the brother of Odinga’s mother.
Jamhuri Day - Jan. 20th in the USofKKK
*sigh* I should have dropped in a reference to “Our American Cousin”...