Another Wrinkle or Maybe Two
January 9th, 2008 by Sonja

Yesterday, just as I thought I was getting my head around the mess of spaghetti that is politics in Kenya, I read this:

Kenya Leader Names New Ministers:

“Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki has named new ministers, just before Ghana’s leader arrived as part of mediation efforts following disputed elections.”

The wrinkle is that he filled all the important posts. He named Kalonzo Musyoka to the vice presidency (who got 9% of the vote). None of the posts were filled with members of the opposition party (Odinga’s party). This was done as a mediator was/is enroute to Kenya.

In the west we speak of this as a defrauded election and we go about our business. I’m not so certain though. More and more it is taking on the colors of a coup d’etat. A coup d’etat is much more serious than an illegal election.

A leader who has himself declared the winner in the face of an overwhelming parlimentary tidal change and then sets about establishing his ministry as mediation is enroute is not a leader who will be submitting to outside authority in any meaningful circumstances. Let’s just say that in our outloud voices and be done with it.

My guess (if I were to guess … okay, I will) is that he will in short order either do away with parliament altogether or gut its powers rather abruptly. This will happen in the next 12 to 15 months. I will be happily surprised if it does not. You can send me a cake. Remember this … and hopefully I will be the recipient of some cakes.

Herein though is the root (or roots) the deeper problem in Africa and, indeed, all of the developing world. The west went in with a somewhat (okay very little) altruistic nature and attempted to bring democracy to these places. We are now past the point where having a debate about whether or not this was the right thing to do is fruitful. It was probably not right, but it happened and now we must bear out the consequences of those thousands of large and small decisions. The problem is that in order for what we consider classic freedom and democracy to flourish in a state there must be an undergirding web of philosophy, education, economics, demographics and many other issues woven together to support that freedom and democracy. The soil must be nourished in order for those flowers to grow.

By that I mean this … our version of classic freedom (a very Western, Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman notion by the way) cannot be supported in an economic system where there are only two classes of people; the very poor and the very rich. Our notions of freedom and democracy (and capitalism) requires a fertile middle class to support it. Most developing nations have three classes: the rich, the poor and a military class. What tiny middle class there is, is struggling to survive, thrive and grow is not part of the picture at all. Education is also a requirement for democracy. This is why Thomas Jefferson, though an inveterate snob, was such an ardent supporter of public education in our country. He knew that classic democracy (even a republic) could not survive without an educated electorate.

So, I struggle with the lack of conversation that I’m hearing in the blogosphere on this subject. Life goes on here in the west. Poor people of color are struggling and dying against one another now, just as they have been struggling and dying against AIDS, parasites, drought, disease, etc. for decades and we have done nothing. Perhaps it would be disingenuous to begin to care now. Perhaps it is we do not know what to say, so we say nothing at all and pour our energies into discussions about books, and quitting time and ministries and the things we know and the things we don’t know, rendering unto Ceasar, etc. I’m torn between Bill’s disappointment, Maynard’s ennui and Mike’s sense of justice. I’ve given to Amani ya Juu and felt good for one day. Then felt horrible guilt that I have so much to feed my family. No, not guilt. I am overwhelmed with all I have and all I am not grateful for. After all, when I need food, I safely go to the grocery store. I am not limited to 4 tomatoes, 4 carrots, 4 bananas, 2 cabbages, and the few other things for a week as the list on Bill’s page suggests that the women in Nairobi are at this time. And then it all comes back to this:

Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die

Crumbs From Your Table – by U2

4 Responses  
  • Ravine of Light » Let Them Eat Cake writes:
    January 11th, 20088:25 amat

    […] ended yesterday’s post wondering if it really matters and I quoted “Crumbs From Your Table” – a song by U2. If […]

  • kibaki | Journal article report writes:
    January 11th, 20085:34 pmat

    […] Another Wrinkle or Maybe Two […]

  • Let Them Eat Cake writes:
    January 12th, 20081:43 pmat

    […] ended yesterday’s post wondering if it really matters and I quoted “Crumbs From Your Table” – a song by U2. If […]

  • Joy writes:
    February 1st, 20089:44 amat

    Please, Please continue to blog on this as I struggle to wrap my brain around it. I find that the blogosphere is a much better educator than CNN!

    Thank you. I have an assignment due Monday to comment on the events in Kenya. I appreciate your views on this.

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