Monday, November 29, 2010

Letter to Raila Odinga after he fails to uphold minorities in Kenya

Sunday 28th Nov 2010

To: Raila Odinga: The Prime Minister of Kenya

From: Philo Ikonya ( A Kenyan citizen)

I know that KiberaKENYA has been seen to change a little of late but - I do not wish to stigmatise those of us who live in such inhuman conditions - in more than slum cases most Kenyans also in rural areas live in terrible conditions too. I know it is still not possible to say that the high level of rape, incest and this includes defilement have gone dramatically down from as reported by (Lacey. 2001 ) in a study on combatting Aids. I am greatly disturbed by your priorities as vice president and would be President of Kenya. Lacey and most people have found rape, murder, incest are prevalent crimes there. I also know from experience that many people in Kibera suffer police brutality.

You have just given an order as the Prime Minister of Kenya that any homosexual men and women found engaging in sex must be arrested by the police. For me it is also important that I did not hear the words that after arrest people must be charged in court in 24 hours. We know that police in Kenya have often disappeared people after arrest. I am of the opinion that to a reformed and a reforming police force, you ought to quote the Criminal Code and the Constitution, not your office.

I know too that police are most likely not to find any man in the circumstances with another man nor any woman since already their matters are so stigmatised in Kenya.. ( you heard the crowd roar and this time there was no one to answer you, "Unga!" like that time when you were there and the people brought you back to basics from your excellent ability to hype them). But I know that police will arrest some poor innocent people in Kibera and in other places and tell them they are homosexuals, torture them and humiliate them as they do those whom they call prostitutes after arrest. When you left Kibera, there was more fear than the show of might and bravado that you saw in the early afternoon.

Since you have the power and the media and the umbrella of the AU and the UN, we are left trying to reason on how to make our Kenya a more humane society at the risk of being called all sorts of things and even not managing to live at home. It seems you are enjoying having the kind of police in place who tremble when politicians speak. The type who are promoted when they brutalise those who dare to say they want to and do defend human rights. You have opened another door for them to stigmatise human rights even before you answer to us why police and Kenyan intelligence have decided to lump human rights activists with those whom the nation fears and says they belong to proscribed sects. I still remember how many people rushed to your office and you received them when Oulo G.P. O Oulo and Oscar King'ara were shot dead on State House Road and you GAVE THEM HOPE. We know no one wears a sign of belonging to anything on their forehead and you also know that human rights are just that. HUMAN RIGHTS. I want to imagine that if your own child or relation were a homosexual you would not even know it and that if they were found by police.. strange thought... and let us just follow your mind, they would not even be arrested. I was told by police that when your child was driving without a licence (under age) and was in an accident at night, all they did was mention your name and the police left them alone. The kind of mentality you spoke from and the law in Kenya has always been against the poor and the ones without a name. Look how many they are.

The 3 000 disappearances of Kenyans ( Re: Philip Alston s Report) and the last five in Githurai, one extra-judicial killing in Mathare last week and one in Kisumu and the bodies found dumped in Lari and Kobatek are on my mind. The very recent violence in Kenya after the 2007 General election as documented by many and as in the Waki Report where it shows a high number of people were killed by Kenyan police is on my mind. The many Kenyans who never reach home in the evening, both women and men swooped for strange reasons until they pay bribes are on my mind. The many who tremble on their way home daily are on my mind.

Hitler is on my mind. Auschwitz is on my mind. The tall, blonde and blue eyed people.. are a story no one has forgotten.

Raila, you know who Kenyan police are. YOu also know what misused power is, you were in detention without trial under Moi.

Raila Odinga, the Boundaries Commission has is struggling on the verge of failure, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission is under stress for reasons you know well, the Committee for Implementation of the new constitution has not been set up. The work you have to do is laid out in the agreement you signed on our behalf during post poll violence. It is not part of your office to tell police what crimes to prosecute we do have a code... and even it is not friendly to all minorities and especially the poor and even if it penalises for sexual offences as defined therein so far no one has misued it the way you have done last Sunday. You are aware of what has happened in recent years in Uganda and even if it does not matter who he is and what you think of him, you are not unaware of Obama s reactions on the same. But you spoke for East Africa.

I remember you got the baptism of immersion, submerged in water by two preachers in two churches. In St. Stephen s Church on Jogoo Road you had a ceremony in which Ndolo then aspiring as always to represent Makadara. Before then you were an atheist and not that I really care what faith you confess now, if you do not mind my openness. I only want to remind you that you use the church and the church uses you whenever the two of you need one another for a purpose. After that, you dump each other. The church tries other politicians. The people remain with Raila the enigma.

But this is what a typical politician does in Kenya.... you sacrifice minorities, beliefs, religions, families and many, many people to get to power and you stay in power in the same way.

I was just remembering that

During the constitution campaign you wore green ith Kibaki and that was good. The people could not come for you on the basis of religion as some had in the last election... mind you, I did not side with them and Raila, the only time I felt I should never again try to politic in my village is when they said things about you that I will never say to anyone. I stopped them at my own risk. If I repeated such now, I would be no better, I would be tearing again a wound so unhealed. I felt so bad that you, then the minority in that conversation and so dignified on my mind as ever, even if I did not go there physically with you in spite of some calls from Mumbi Ngaru, were suffering this kind of thing stigmatisation, so neatly sown by the government. Would you turn against another minority so, now?

I know that you now need fundamentalists and so called believers who fought so strongly against this constitution for many reasons. It is time to use faiths and dump them again. I would like very much that you consider your accountability to all Kenyans. If you have an amendment to make to the current constitution, you and those who believe the same know how to go about it. To give us a new Kenyanness better than the one that is all the time shredded in us you might lead the people in following the constitution.

"Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said homosexuals should be arrested, saying homosexual behavior will not be tolerated in the east African country.
"Any man found engaging in sexual activities with another man should be arrested," Times LIVE quoted Odinga as saying at a rally on Sunday, in the Nairobi town of Kibera. "Even women found engaging in sexual activities will be arrested."

Read more:"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Extra-judicial killings, have we given in? Kenya's impunity fights back..Human Rights Defenders

Sowing lies about human rights defenders to cover up extra-judicial killings and the ‘disappeared’- Not yet new constitution till we change!

By Philo Ikonya

“But eternal vigilance is not written in any of the world’s constitutions or ours. It rests in our beings. We chose to for -reasons maybe even unknown to us- to defend human rights. Let us not close our eye thinking that the letter of the law will keep vigil for us all the time. We must be careful. Light your candle forever, Philo” (speech to self)

This Friday afternoon, I received a message from *SA in Nairobi. He wrote:
26th NOVEMBER 2010

“Just came from mortuary to see the body of the young man. He was 21. His mother cant believe it. They had put all their wealth on his schooling and now it is gone by police bullet. We still have not received any support to profile the young man’s life. I am working on seeing how the family can profile the incidence. The police who did is still uniformed and in possession of a gun and going business as usual. My phone calls are now not only tapped but get hanged up just like that….”
The one who works with me on publicity is also in trouble, SA went on to explain. It is not yet new constitution back here.”
Just a week before another desperate cry had appeared on the same list serve. *UT said he would not be surprised if he got no response from anyone for informing that one young man was missing and was feared dead in police hands. This is so common an occurrence in Kenya, that maybe we are getting used to it.

24th of Nov 2010

Fellow comrades.

Its so sad that every time my mind thinks of posting on this mailing list,I always bring problems which some times nobody reponds and the system oppression advances and it also places me in a desperate state.
Any way i just wanted to bring to your attention that this morning i received another case of one Samuel Oricho from kisumu manyatta kandole who was arrested by Flying squad police one and a half months ago and he is know where to be seen.His family members have been going to central police kisumu to enquire more on his condition but the OCS chases them away and even threatens them. Samuel was a known matatu tout in manyatta and kondele and he had great influence in the area. There fore any one is willing to stand against this injustice and can contact ISAAC who was close friend to him through 0724 101013 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0724 101013      end_of_the_skype_highlighting



The haunting calls of Mama Wainaina came back to my ears. That was in 2007, May. I have heard so many women and widows cry about this.
Mama Wai as they called her, cried in a way that suggested to me that she would cry forever and that soon, she would too be buried. For there are not so many people that can such sorrows face. I know that when in a poem I wrote that her voice was like filled with shards of glass in it, I was not exaggerating. Sometimes, the pain of such a terrible loss tears voices into pieces.
So, SA, soon the mother of this other young man from Mathare who cannot believe it now, will soon overcome initial denial and she too start crying and then her own cries will tear her through her heart and rip her body. It is not true that her son can RIP. Rest in Peace. What is worse is that it seems as if we have given up on these cases in Kenya.

Before W there was B and many others: one by one they left us

We made our noises, for which you get threatened yourself SA when B coming from a football match in Huruma, B whom everyone knew and knew how he behaved was shot dead right outside his home. The policeman who killed him had shot many other boys dead. And he was still patrolling the area of Huruma many months afterwards. You know that policemen who beat up human rights activists were promoted in Ali’s days, the former commissioner of police. There is a lot more you do not know and I cannot tell here.
I had responded to his initial message where SA announced the killing of this young man on a list serve because I know that the list serve is infiltrated by Kenyan intelligence. Three days later, neither SA nor UT have heard from any of the organizations we count on. Are the enemies of Human Rights winning this battle? Will they manage to split us all and to stop so many?
The struggle is only protracted. Vigilance is eternal. Eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for human rights.

Ever since Philip Alston’s report of 2009, and the consequent killings of Oulo GPO and Oscar King’ara who has not suffered? These killings were calculated at driving fear deep into our bones. In the days of Commissioner Hussein Ali and even now, it is the same. They want us voiceless and quiet. Alston reported that more than 3 000 young men had been killed and often disappeared in Kenya mostly on the basis that they belong to a proscribed sect. No due process is followed. The Attorney General from Kenya denied this report and would have had P. Alston sacked in Geneva if he could. Commissioner Ali did the same and even the military stepped in and denied the report.

It is as if they do not read what happens in the rest of the world. They have not seen other country reports also done in ten days. Recall the ridiculous comments. They went to town over the period it took to do the report and blamed Human Rights Activists for the results. They blamed organizations instead of wondering how come we are getting into such reports…. Kenya was not like this before. And we were saying this outside of Parliament when we got badly beaten up and harassment was organized to keep us down long after that. Let us look at some recent messages and reports in the media.
I enquired in April 2010. I got this answer. It shows how organizations are being crushed.

Dear P,
Thanks a lot for your response. It is true that people are still disappearing. In April 2010, Kirimi Kenneth an RPP member, was abducted by ‘police Officers’ from the notorious ‘Kwe Kwe’ squad and sedated and found himself in an isolated house. On learning of this RPP together with other human rights exerted pressure until he was dumped at Suswa on your way to Narok.

We picked him. He had been tortured by them. The police officers knew more about him and the work we do. They gave him two weeks in order to know their fate. They also said that they will deal with Stephen Musau RPP Executive Co-ordinator. The officers concern was why we were documenting cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances and why we were pushing for inclusion of the current period thus review of the TJR Act of 2008. According to Kirimi, he informed us that there was another person in a separate room who was writhing in pain calling his mother saying that he had broken his leg. The officers went with said Karanja on a Saturday and he did not return with him.”

June 21 2010 9 45 am

I have just come from Central police station. I have talked to Jacop Odipo, Hellen Ayuma and Susan Achieng and later held a meeting with the Deputy DCIO together with representatives fron Kamukunji Human Rights Defenders and Bunge la Mwananchi. The deputy DCIO has informed us that his hands are tied and that the DCIO is the only person who can authorise for the release or give bond to the accused persons. The DCIO was said to be in a meeting with the Director of Uhuru Park. The deputy OCPD refused to give us the CELL PHONE of the DCIO. He told us to wait for him.

The accused’s fingerprints and statements have been taken and they might be taken to court tomorrow morning with Creating Disturbances although the officers are not giving information.

I am requesting all of you to circulate this information to the rest of the colleagues and avail yourself tomorrow morning in in order to establish the court they will be taken. We have also agreed that we try and have people in Makadara, Kibera and Nairobi Law Courts (High Court) and Central police station in order to ensure that they are not sneaked without our knowledge.

Further, i appeal to those people / organisations with cash bail to process in advance. also Human Rights advocates should be informed of the arrests.


Dear M,

I am sorry to hear about the arrests of Odipo, Susan and Hellen. Please let me know about developments and also send them my special greetings and tell them to take courage. This IS rather strange and reflects badly on the system as usual.

Pay victims of Police killings, Muite demands
MPs probe dumping of bodies
Human Rights Defenders accuse state of complicity
State comes under stinging criticism over ‘renditions’
MPs claim police behind murders

Friday, November 12, 2010

Out of Prison - Love songs

Loecker Verlag, in Austria has published Out of Prison - Love songs by Philo Ikonya

It is a bilingual edition in German and English. Currently you can find this book in Amazon under the title Aus dem Gefängnis – Liebesgesänge / Out of Prison – Love Songs.

Some of the poems included in this book are

: Presidential Awards
: Singing vision
: I turn into love
and Ubuntu earrings.

Philo Ikonya writes about love as solidarity , pamoja, which opens doors that are locked in cells and elsewhere out of disdain for freedom and other forms of repression. The poet finds wings in words that create space and like it wude and long.

Nairobi river is courted by the poet to tell the story what it knows about life.. this poem will soon be included in this post for a preview.