JIENJOY

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Kenyans should feel free to laugh at Uhuru, Ruto



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By OTIENO OTIENO
Posted  Saturday, January 28  2012 at  19:03
Public conversations are notoriously uptight in Kenya these days.
It was bad enough when human rights NGOs and the media imposed on society a strict code of public etiquette that prohibited one from identifying certain people with their tribes or referring to the gender of others.
But political correctness is even much worse with hate policing since institutionalised in the form of Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission.
In the wake of the decision by judges of the International Criminal Court to commit four Kenyans to trial over the post-election violence, there has been an outbreak of public pretending.
Nobody wants to be seen laughing publicly at the four — Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr William Ruto, Mr Francis Muthaura and Mr Joshua arap Sang — lest he or she is thought to be rejoicing over their personal troubles.
On Friday, Mrs Ida Odinga, the prime minister’s wife, sent out a statement to the press in which she expressed her sympathies with the families of the accused and argued for local trials.
Some people will read between the lines and not help thinking that Mrs Odinga was simply engaging in a bit of political damage control for her spouse whose presidential bid is thought to be threatened by the trial of rivals suffering from a persecution complex.
Her sympathies were equally outstanding for her failure to mention the victims of the post-election violence — the 1,113 in their graves, the thousands bearing physical scars, the over 600,000 uprooted from their homes, and the scores raped.
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Ironically, the only people who appear to be bullish over the latest developments at the ICC are two of the suspects, Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta.
The two have been telling everyone who cares to listen that the crimes against humanity charges against them are inconsequential to their political fortunes and even addressed public meetings to re-energise their support bases in the past two days.
Media cameras caught them praying, dancing, waving, smiling and hugging.
So why should society celebrate individuals accused of serious criminal offences like murder, mass rape, persecution and other inhuman acts and yet shackle other Kenyans like me who would simply love a good laugh over their troubles without being labelled sadists?
Ambiguities in the laws appear to suggest that they can even run for public office — the more reason society should at least afford me the licence to evoke good old common sense, curses and other social stigma in public conversations.
jkotieno@ke.nationmedia.com

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