Most folks believe that history is pretty boring. And yet history never disappoints the researcher looking for answers to current problems. I am a researcher always looking for answers to current questions from history and I recently came across the following gem.
The Special Branch was formally created in 1952 mainly to help deal with the Mau Mau uprising. It acted as a secret intelligence unit for the colonial government. And guess what? What finished Mau mau was not the superior fire power. It was good intelligence from the Special Branch.
The reason why this information was a gem to me is because when the current mess is finally sorted out one of the things that will need to be looked at is the role played by the NSIS (National Security Intelligence Service) and especially the role of its’ Director General, one Major Gen, Michael Gichangi.
Historians will not fail to note that it was during Gichangi’s watch as “principal advisor to the president and the government of the Republic of Kenya on matters related to national security and intelligence” that the biggest political crisis in the history of East Africa unfolded in the country.
Fascinating tit bits about what the 49 year old did and more importantly what he did not do are beginning to emerge. Some unconfirmed reports indicate that President Kibaki is very upset and disappointed at the performance of the Director General during this period of crisis. The reason is that ODM leaders seem to have outwitted him at every corner. For instance it was widely expected that ODM would go to court after losing the presidential elections. However anybody who knew just a little about Raila Odinga would have known that there was no way he was going to go to Kenyan courts to seek legal redress. Especially after some suspicious appointments of judges just before the polls (interestingly everybody seems to have missed the significance of that). And as if that was not enough, the DG again wrongly predicted that the violence and unrest would easily fizzle out after all “the Luos will not throw stones for more than a day or two.” But what actually happened seems to have caught the intelligence community in Kenya by surprise. The Kalenjin community caused unprecedented chaos and deaths and are still a very serious threat.
Now the latest information this blogger is privy to indicates that the DG is about to make yet another huge mistake that will cost Kenyan lives and push the country over the cliff so to speak. It has been recognized that for the current government to survive, they will have to crack the whip. That will mean clamping down on dissenters. There are some people who believe that the purge on the media has already begun with the so-called ministry task force to analyze the media’s role before and after the 2007 general elections. Hardliners have been talking about that purge for months now and would like to include even the ODM top brass. One of Gichangi’s tasks will be to analyze the effects of such a move and its’ repercussions on national security. The verdict that Gichangi’s bosses will be pushing for is that of “it is manageable.” Indeed the arrest of the veteran Rift Valley MP Kibuor has yet to result in any violence in the Rift Valley and this should be an encouragement and apparent “proof” that the potential fall out can indeed be managed.
However information on the ground indicates that this would be yet another major miscalculation on the government side. The current relative calm being witnessed in most parts of the country can deceive. There are many who dread it and believe that what we are seeing is the usual calm before a major storm.
Those who make decisions in the Kibaki administration should remember that the same strategy of creating fear to nip dissent in the bud has recently been tried with disastrous results. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that when the violence started, the police were order to shoot to kill. The idea was to spread fear in the rioting mobs since it is widely believed that everybody fears death. Even animals fear death. That was a terrible, terrible miscalculation because it only fanned emotions and escalated the violence to new heights. Where else in the world have you heard of women and children being locked up in a church which is then set on fire as the perpetrators watch in glee, almost dancing to the terrible screams of agony?
Those who know Gichangi well say that he is a perfect fit into the Kibaki inner circle. Well educated and intelligent but too sure of himself and cocky so that big miscalculations are inevitable. Indeed one puzzle most Kenyans are yet to answer is how a man who never saw the inside of a High School (retired President Moi) ended up being a better manager and much more political savy operator than an economic professor who was the first African to score the maximum 6 points in the O-levels exams. The answer I believe is in the fact that there is a certain humbleness and streetwise nature in self-educated men who start out their careers in a less distinguished manner.
It is said that Kibaki does not think much of anybody who did NOT go to Makerere University let alone somebody who has never seen the inside of a University lecture hall. Little wonder that he is surrounded by intellectual types, very intelligent but political fools who have driven the country to disaster.
Incidentally one of the most influential advisors to President Kibaki at the moment is one Joe Wanjui. The man is as arrogant as they come and a lot more at that. He hails from the old school and “Luo” is to him a dirty word. Wanjui is extremely wealthy but the right question to ask here is why the multinational, Unilever edged him out of the company’s top management, prematurely.
Whatever Major Gen. Gichangi tells Kibaki this time, one thing is very clear, Mwai Kibaki’s game plan can only end up with one result and one result alone. CHAOS.