The Holy Trinity of Political Persuasion in Africa

fidel-castro-y-wojciech-jaruzelski Fidel Castro of Cuba with Wojciech-Jaruzelski of Poland

I have tried hard to discern whether there is someone in Kenya who is truly a master of political persuasion. So it is perhaps futile to search for the Grandmaster of the technique of political persuasion. The late Kiprono Biwott was perhaps one of the best practitioners of the art.  The late Mark Too was also a master. Then it went something like this: I know a secret about you. I want something from you and I have something for you.

Nicholas Biwott1              Charles Njonjo2  Nicholas Biwott                                                     Charles Njonjo

‘Sir’ Charles Njonjo was said to be a master in his time. He kept tabs on every politician, businessman, churchman or crook. That was long before the internet and the advent of social media took over control of information. Then, the political class controlled the news since they were the only ones with access to the state apparatus that gathered information as a matter of course. That has not changed but now virtually anyone can gather information- sometimes enough to confound a liar.

Mzee and Gurcharan Singh Chana Eastleigh AirBase Mzee Jomo Kenyatta with Gurcharan Singh Chana of Kenya Airforce

The treasure trove of the pre-internet era came in handy especially during elections or lead up to elections. A presidential election is war declared, as you very well know. The rules go out of the window, even as the election officials claim to have everything in their grips. The only rule that politicians worry about is the Winner-take-all rule. It is a difficult time for the contestants. For those who manage elections it is also an exhilarating period since this is the only time the high and mighty pay attention to them. Those in charge of major political party campaign strategy are supposed to be particularly good at this. The Grandmaster knows well that power must have money back-up.

UK with Angela Merkel in Germany06-04-2016  Uhuru Kenyatta with Angela Merkel of Germany

For the Grandmaster, this is the time to meet the rich, the powerful and the corrupt. They all need you to help them survive the onslaught unleashed by their opponents.  They will never say it but the fear is nearly always palpable. That should be a source of pure, unadulterated adrenaline for you. You must run with it. They need you for your talent and you must satisfy that need. You must turn into a super political animal, a breed or two above the mediocre type you see around you, who run on ‘high octane power and fear mix.’

raila_odinga_at_statehouse31-05-16 Uhuru with Raila Odinga

Work on the basis that every politician has enemies. That is the case always. But most of them have particular enemies, who would do anything, including things bordering on criminality, to see their enemies flounder. Those are the enemies they most worry about. And it is in dealing with them that the Grandmaster must exhibit unsurpassed acumen.  That is when he has to resort to the proven technique of the holy trinity of political persuasion. Out of his political bag of tricks gathered over a long period and sustained political research, must come an answer to the puzzles presented by every particular enemy of his politician client.

UK with JZuma of RSA at Ticad2016  Uhuru with Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa

It is no secret that most politicians are only interested in what they can use. They operate on the principle that if it is not of advantage to them, then there is no need to know. One would be forgiven for thinking that some of them are utter and complete bastards with no breath of compassion. They possess the gift of pure selfishness. The protagonists may be a long-term opposition figure in national politics or just a great tactician with an astute political brain. The Grandmaster ought to know everyone in politics, the church, civil society and the unions, even student unions. He must know all their sins and scams, know who is getting what and how much. He must be utterly discreet with a long and dangerous memory.

KK and Moi  Moi with Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia

On the face of it, he must be a dependable gentleman who delivers all the favours promised during the campaigns in time and good measure. He must be inscrutable, permanently neutral even when he says he will give it to you in writing that ‘we will win and you will get XYZ.’ He never has, nor entertains, any doubt.  He knows that politicians shout loudest when they are not certain of themselves. They do not trust even the one sitting beside them in parliament. But they must trust the Grandmaster, the moneybox. With him they must discuss everything and tell him everything. He alone is able to move upwards or downwards or sideways in the party. The politicians might even hate you with a passion but so long as you deliver a win, you should be content.  Just get the job done.

Kenyatta-Obote  Mzee Jomo Kenyatta with Milton Obote of Uganda

Let nothing and nobody stand on your way. You know which button to press, who to call and what to say.  They should know that with you everything is possible; for you are the optimist who schemes and dreams big dreams. Through a discreet suggestion or a gentle reminder of an indiscreet incident in the past, you will get the target to pay attention to you. Always exercise that power of quiet and persistent malevolence. You will get your way. Tell them to do as they are told and when they are told to do it. And always couch it with a promise for the future and how much. On certain issues, tell the party what to say, how to say it and when to say it. The emphasis as you have heard around is not WE in but THEM out.

UK with British PM Theresa May11-05-17  Uhuru Kenyatta with Theresa May of Britain

The Grandmaster must raise money to say it in newspapers, on radios, TVs and elsewhere, a task which demands a man who has learnt to pull a great many strings. You must be sagacious enough to avoid drawbacks or setbacks. No matter the case, exercise one-upmanship of the highest calibre, as you wield this faceless power that casts no shadow. By all means, vanquish your opponent but do not shame him for his lack of political judgment. You are the Godfather.

Kwame Nkrumah Kwameh Nkrumah

Engage the best people who can deliver the advertising design to do it all on Radio, TV, newspapers, banners, handouts, billboards, social media and elsewhere. Work them like dogs, get them to respond like dogs, and deliver everything in time. Your assistants should be your personal 24/7 property for the period of the campaign who, together, know every aspect of national politics. You must be remorseless.

largest gorillas going extinct Self explanatory

Above all, never abuse your position or betray a confidence, and you will end up with enormous power and influence. Remember, I KNOW something about him; I WANT something from him and I HAVE something for him.

July 2017






kenyan-president-uhuru-kenyatta-left-and-his-chinese-counterpart-xi-jinping-right-pose-for-photos-at-the-great-hall-of-the-people-in-beijing-in-2013 President Uhuru Kenyatta with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing

Several political leaders in this country have voiced their concern over State borrowing. Some have condemned the government over the issue. They want Kenya to borrow less. The official line is that there is room (and need) to borrow more.

Some leaders have even claimed that Kenya is the No.1 borrower in Africa. That obviously is not the case, but convincing the public after such careless utterances by leaders is an onerous task. If that is the aim of the said leaders, then the perception will thrive even though damaging and faulty both in substance and merit. Here are some facts to consider as the debate rages.

kenya-148713531 Nairobi City Skyline

For starters, Kenya is at number 13 in Africa and number 70 in the world at 52.80% of GDP. In Africa, Cape Verde stands at 123%, Egypt at 90%, Sudan at 79%, Zimbabwe at 77%, San Tome & Principe at 68%, Ghana at 67%, Mauritania at 67%, Morocco at 64%, Mauritius at 61.60%, Seychelles at 60%, Mozambique at 55.40%, Djibouti at 55.20%, Kenya 52.80%, Gambia 50.70%, South Africa 50.10%, Tunisia 47.50%, Lesotho 45.80%, Senegal 44.20%, CAR 41.83%, Tanzania 39.90%, Sierra Leone 37.65%, Angola 36.50%, Ivory Coast 36.41%, Niger 36.40%, Madagascar 34.90%,  Uganda 34.70%, and so on.

tokyo-bay-aqualine-tunnel Tokyo Bay Aqualine Tunnel

Apparently some of the biggest borrowers are also some of the most developed and biggest bilateral lenders, as witness the following list: Japan 229.20%, USA 104.17%, Canada 91.50%, Euro Area 90.70%, Greece 176.90%, Italy 132.70%, Belgium 106.00%, Singapore 104.70%, Spain 99.20%, France 96.10%, Ireland 93.80%, UK 89.20%, Jordan 89.00%, Germany 71.20%, India 67.20%, Brazil 66.23%, Netherlands 65.10%, Israel 64.80%, Pakistan 64.80%, Malaysia 54%, China 43.90%, Russia 17.70%.

unitedkingdom-road-network1 United Kingdom Road Network

It is clear from the above list that there is a relationship between borrowing and development. The West understands that very well. Japan is lending to the whole African continent. Their borrowing in relation to the GDP stands at a staggering 299%. And those who have been to Japan will tell you how superbly developed the country is. The figures above are clear evidence, if one is needed, that to grow and modernize a country has to borrow.

malaysia-1 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The few countries in Africa which have borrowed much less than Kenya fall into two general categories: those developing at a much slower pace and those that have mineral wealth which supplied the necessary funds for development.  Gabon 34.10%, Namibia 34%, Republic of Congo 34%, Guinea Bissau 32.20%, Zambia 31%, Guinea 29.50%, Ethiopia 28.60%, Burkina Faso 28.30%, Rwanda 28%, Botswana 22.70%, Malawi 18%, Burundi 15.20%, Nigeria 11.50%. Algeria 8.76%, Equatorial Guinea 6.40%, Libya 6.10%.

sgr-10star Standard Gauge Railway under construction.

Critics of the government borrowing policies overestimate Kenya’s dependence on foreign investors while underestimating the foreigners’ need to invest. An example is China which clearly needs a strong Africa for economic reasons just as it needs the US and Europe for trade reasons. China depends on US consumers to purchase its products. The latter consumes Chinese imports equivalent to what the whole of Europe consumes. That makes China dependent on those economies. They want to improve African consumption of their products and the only viable way is to empower African economies. I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing.

kenya-stickig-to-spending-targets Nairobi by Night

It is unwise in my view, to blame government for not creating jobs while at the same time denigrating it for borrowing too much. We have to define what ‘too much’ means bearing in mind our thirst for development. A decline in economic activities cannot be remedied by reducing borrowing for infrastructural improvements. To reduce pressure on government resources to pay off debt can only be solved by empowering the tax payers and improving their capacity to pay more to the tax agency. That is what the Roads, Railways and Airports upgrading will do to the tax payer.  Instead of freezing employment it will create jobs and improve incomes. The more developed a country is, the more they are able to borrow at better terms. Japan seems to be borrowing at very low rates of interest for on-ward lending at much higher rates of interest to poorer countries, including Kenya and most of Africa.

shanghai-freeway Shanghai Freeway

I believe our main emphasis should be on monitoring the expenditures by the state, state institutions and agencies, counties, and the independent contractors and suppliers; and highlighting discrepancies where they exist and condemning proven graft. And finally, legislating in detail to curb spillage and empowering agencies that handle investigations.

pres-inspects-sgr-section President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a section of the SGR.

If the figures above are faulty, please check with, my source.

GKthinji 2017





A Christmas Story Extract


He looked up and about. He was still alone in his Prado. The day was still young, but pregnant. It had an imprint on him like no other. That dream early in the morning was not just another of those nocturnal journeys that people made within their own cocoons. It was God’s way of reaching out to him. Abandon luxury. Embrace the cloth. Go to the Mount of Olives. Repent and pray. Earn your anointing. Forty days and forty nights, no less, and you will become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. The serpent was but a reminder. When you look for a snake begin at your own feet. Or more appropriately begin in your own heart. The devil is never far away.

Pastor X pressed the reply button and wrote: ‘It’s no use. That woman will not budge. The church will be blessed in other ways. Thank you.’

He sent it.

After a while he wrote another message, this time to Brother Chris.

‘My dear Brother, The Lord has assigned me another mission. Hold fort until I should come back. Be blessed.’

He sent that, too.

Forty days and forty nights! No less. Forty days and forty nights of prayer and repentance! He turned the ignition key and pulled out of the parking lot, homeward bound. Half way to his house he started hearing strange sounds coming from the engine. He listened keenly. The sound was increasing in volume. Knock, knock, knock, knock or sounds to that effect. That was the sound of a developing engine knock. He slowed down and cautiously guided Prado to the Village Garage two kilometers from home. The manager agreed to have the damage assessed and repaired. He would bill the Church.

Taking the Bible with him, Pastor X hired a taxi cab and went home. From there he sent another message to Brother Chris, requesting him to make a follow-up of the repairs and to collect the Prado at completion. He added: ‘Please note that I have no intention of using Prado henceforth as my official or private car. It is for the Church to determine how and by whom it will be utilized in the future.’

Pastor X checked the time. Twelve o’clock, midday. Twenty four hours earlier, he had been a happy man of God at Church, delivering a moving sermon to an attentive, receptive congregation. He had been a man with a vision about to embark on a mission; an exuberant man with projects and programs to prosecute.

Now here he was, a spiritual wreck, needing an injection of a large dose of stamina to stay the course; to discover or chart anew, the path to salvation.

He had parted with Prado. Now he would part ways with more. Home Theatre, Flat screen HD TV, iPod, iPad and others. ‘These have to go,’ he promised. ‘Get real! The pursuit of luxury is the antithesis of the pursuit of salvation.’

He called H&T, the auctioneers and gave them directions.

It was a hot day. No trace of the remnants of the previous day’s storm in the sky. But the ground was still heavy with the load deposited that Sunday. They found him in prayer outside his house. They loaded the items he had discarded.

“Do you owe people money?” the clerk asked.

“Yes,” replied Pastor X.

“Are they mortgaged?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“If they are mortgaged, we would like to see the relevant documents. Are they?”

“I said, no.”

“Ok. Check with us Friday afternoon. We have an auction on Wednesday and Friday mornings.”

“When it’s done, make out a cheque in the name of the Church and call this number. Talk to Brother Chris.”

He gave the man the details.

“You going somewhere?”




“I missed the service yesterday.”

“You are a member of my Church?”

“A new member, yes. My name is Lovemore Wakanaka.”

”I’m donating everything to the Church.”

“Wonderful! I’ll make sure we get the best deals for them. I’ll be conducting the auction.”

“Praise the Lord.”

He signed the mandate documents and the truck left. He closed the gate and went into the house. In the kitchen, he turned on the stove. The lights had just been restored. He warmed up some pasta and milk. That was his lunch.

His Mercedes Benz Sports car was next on the line. After a struggle it started and he drove into a car sales yard that specialized in Sports and high-range vehicles. They gave him a price that he instantly accepted. They paid a deposit. The balance was to be paid by cheque made out to the Church. Brother Chris was to collect it Friday. Pastor X signed the transfer forms and left.

For the second time that day he hired a taxi cab and went to the Country Bus Station, bought a ticket and returned home to pack. That night Pastor X travelled incognito two hundred and fifty kilometers out of town. The following day, in the company of a guide and two porters, he set off for Mt Inyangani, his local Mount of Olives, there to remain in prayer and meditation for forty days and forty nights.

Forty three days later, he reappeared. A much leaner, trim-haired but heavily bearded Pastor X, flanked by Brother Chris, stood by the entrance to the Church. As the congregation entered, members bowed and Pastor X- now anointed Apostle X – touched their foreheads in solemn greeting.

One of the members, Pricilla, moved closer and whispered something. She had countersigned the cheque! Apostle X gave her an incisive look and smiled. It was time to celebrate Christmas!




As the hills yonder turned red from sunset rays

And darkness engulfed hillsides and the valleys

And the sweet sounds of birds

Rent the cool evening air


Our cows and sheep and goats

Hurried down the footpath

As though they were late

To a gathering of clans

Or one of their own.


And we the happy herds boys

Turned our ravenous thoughts

To bananas, yams and milk

And all available munch-able stuff

To calm our restless tummies.


And as the evening metamorphosed into night

And the stars of the sky reclaimed their might

We the famished children of the valleys

Approached the fireside with widening eyes

As the roughshod soldiers laid claim to all

And shot in the air to frighten us all.


And so we watched with pangs of hunger

Training our wrath and rancor and dismay

On other sons and daughters of Africa

Who for reasons best known to them

Or known only to their heartless handlers

Proclaimed themselves ‘defenders of our freedom’.


Voila! Children of the valleys of Africa

And of the cities and slums of Africa

You who gather in the evening breeze

After torrid days in the fields and streets

Only to return to a darkening sky

Sans food sans wear sans light. Voila!

Fidel Castro Photo Tribute


fidel-castroinparis1995 Fidel Castro in Paris 1995. He overthrew Dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959

fidel-castro-1960-in-control Firmly in Control 1960


fidel-castrounspeech1979Fidel Castro United Nations Speech 1979, New York, USA

fidel-castro1974 Fidel Castro in 1974

fidel-castro-the-prophet Fidel Castro the Prophet


fidel-castro-indira-gandhi1983  Fidel Castro with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India 1983

fidel-castrorevjessejackson1984 Fidel Castro 1984 with Rev. Jesse Jackson

fidel-castrosmokes1985 Fidel Castro Smokes 1985

fidel-castromikhailgorbachev1989 Fidel Castro with Mikhail Gorbachev 1989 before the fall of Berlin Wall

fidel-castro-sadam-hussein-raul-castro  Fidel Castro Saddam Hussein Raul Castro

fidel-castronelsonmandelainmatanzas1991Fidel Castro with Nelson Mandela 1991

fidel-castrowithpopejohnpaulii1998  Fidel Castro with Pope John Paul II 1998

fidel-castroinsantiagocuba-2002 Fidel Castro addresses comrades in Santiago, Cuba 2002

fidel-castro-y-wojciech-jaruzelski Fidel Castro with Wojciech Jaruzelski Leader of Poland

fidel-castrohugochavezmedalfacemedia2005Fidel Castro with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela 2005

fidel-castro-with-iranian-president-ahmadinejad-january-6-2012 Fidel Castro with Iranian President Ahmadinejad January 2012

fidel-castropuaseinspeechtostudents2006  Fidel Castro pauses in speech to students 2006

fidel-castroraulcastro2011  Fidel Castro to Raul Castro 2011

fidel-castro8jan2013  Fidel Castro January 2013

fidel-castrospeakstovladmirputin2014 Fidel Castro speaks to Vladmir Putin 2014

fidel-castroccpcongressapril2016  Fidel Castro bids goodbye to Communist Party Congress April 2016

fidel-castrograntshugochavezmedal2006That is the man who ruled Cuba for almost 50 years outlasting 9 US Presidents.





Shakespeare, Trump, and radical experiments of self-government: The Winter’s Tale

Nostalgic thoughts on Shakespeare. I would have added Coriolanus to the list of his characters who, upon reflection, would have wondered how they got there. Self-searching.

Shakespeare Confidential

I’ve been preoccupied with two people this year. The first, of course, is William Shakespeare. The other, alack, is Donald Trump.

I’ve avoided writing about the latter. It’s not that I don’t see the man everywhere in Shakespeare’s plays. I see him in Richard III’s Machiavellian machinations. In Richard II’s incompetence, overreach, and rashness. I see him in Iago’s Janus-faced manipulations. In Timon of Athen’s extreme egotism. In the glib sexual presumption of Falstaff as he appears in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

It’s that I’ve wanted to keep the two separated. Maybe because I’ve felt the connections were too pat, that discussing today’s politics would be such an obvious, unoriginal move. Maybe because I haven’t wanted to talk about him – because he’s all we ever talk about anymore.

You don’t get to ruin Shakespeare, too, damnit.

Or maybe it’s because, in spite of my efforts to make…

View original post 1,208 more words

What Did The People Decide?

cart-06-11-2016 As depicted in our Media

Where I come from (and it’s not Mars) that is the question that would be on the lips of the voters and non-voters alike. The reason for the anxiety is based on our definition of democracy. When we were fighting dictator Moi in 1992, the slogan was, Let the People Decide. We wanted universal suffrage in a free and democratic election process that would usher in a democratic result.


In the process of the struggle, we forgot to define what we meant by democratic result. We were shocked beyond belief when Moi won the election by garnering 34% of the vote in a crowded field. It meant that 66% of the voters had rejected him.


The recent election in the US resulted in Hillary Clinton winning 60,467,245 votes and Donald Trump getting 60,071,650 votes. In other words Clinton beat Trump by 395,595 votes if one goes by the true definition of one-voter one-vote without having to designate any vote as having more value than another.


But we then learnt that American democracy is a contrived system. It does not treat all votes as equal. Applying the rules of the US system Clinton’s votes translated into 232 delegates while Trumps votes translated to 290 delegates. It is only in America that logic can be cobbled to produce that result.


We learnt also that Trump’s votes translated into 47.4% of the total votes cast while Clinton’s votes constituted 47.7% of the total. That means the two contestants garnered 95.1% of the vote and 4.9% went to Third Parties. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson gained over 3% of the popular vote, and the Green party’s Jill Stein got 1%. Both are facing a major flack for it. In essence it means that 52.6% of the voters rejected Trump. Yet he is now the winner. The US will be governed by a President who got less than 50% of the vote. It mirrors what happened in Kenya in 1992 and 1997. Is that a democratic outcome?

obama-trump1  Donald Trump with Barack Obama

According to our current constitution- which requires the winner to get 50%+1 of the total, that election would not have produced a winner. We would have been forced to go for a run-off between Trump and Clinton, excluding all the Third Party candidates who together garnered over 5 million votes. The result would have resulted in either Trump or Clinton clinching the threshold of 50%+1 of the votes cast. That is what our democracy demands and that is how we would have achieved it by treating each vote equally.


In 2008 Barack Obama had 365 delegates to John McCain’s 173 delegates. He had 69,498,416 votes to McCain’s 59,948,323 votes. In 2012 he had 50.1% of the total votes cast. The Third Party candidates got just 1.4%.


We learnt something in addition. The following ten States, that is, California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina, produce between them 246 delegates of the 270 required to win. The other 40 States have 292 delegates between them.


In Kenya it is now called the tyranny of numbers. The US appears to have perfected the art of the tyranny of numbers and cast it in stone. If your State is small in terms of population it remains that way for ever.  That is the unseen side of American ‘democracy.’ On this one our democracy and American democracy are poles apart.


One way to understand the US system is by realizing that it is trying to solve a problem for a huge, now yuuge, country. 50 States is not like our 47 counties. Going by the controversies that we usually have at the end of a general election, it is, perhaps, to their credit that they contrived a system that works for them and produces quick uncontested results.

Is that what the people decided?

cartoon10-11-2016 Munene Cartoons


Were I a poet I would put it thus:    In Wisconsin I was trumped      I turned to Ohio and Iowa     And there again got trumped     Finding no joy in Pennsylvania    I fled to Florida in search of solace    But was no better off than before    Everywhere I went I was trumped         Now here I am humble before him      For, I fear, wherever I go in the US     They will all be singing Donald Trump!