New Gema takes on the Old Gema

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NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

I have been hoping that the national excitement following the Limuru II meeting by several people presenting themselves as representatives of the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities under GEMA Cultural Association (GCA) would have ended by now. Unfortunately the newspaper features and articles this last weekend, including another paid up advertisement by GCA, clearly indicate that this will not happen any time soon.

The justification being used for this meeting is especially misplaced. Uhuru Kenyatta is quoted asking why some Kenyans have a problem when GEMA meets while they seem okay when other communities do the same. Mr Kenyatta needs to be informed that the closest to what happened in Limuru is the oathing ceremonies of 1969; also by GEMA.

At no other time in Kenya’s history has any other group of leaders from another community had the audacity to publicly call a meeting to declare that they will mobilize their tribes to raise a petition to postpone a judicial process, to save one of their own. It did not even happen when leaders like Jomo Kenyatta and Dedan Kimathi, also from GEMA communities, were undergoing clearly cooked up charges in court!

But what is even more disturbing is what those calling for the postponement of the ICC process are not telling us. They are not saying that as they seek to protect two individual suspects from the GEMA community from an internationally recognized judicial process (that could very well find them innocent) they are also calling for the postponement of justice for over 1,100 dead, over 3,000 raped women and over 600,000 forcefully displaced families; majority of whom are actually members of GEMA communities! (Some who have never even moved on since then and are still living in IDP Camps).

They also not telling us that as they seek to protect these two individuals they are also postponing the opportunity for millions of Kenyans, GEMA or otherwise, to learn the truth of what happened in 2007. They do not realize that for most of us the engagement between the prosecution and defense is our only source of information about what actually happened in 2007.

They do not realize that after what we have learnt from the summons and confirmation hearings, we cannot wait to hear what comes out as the prosecution and defense engage when trials begin, so as to move on as a nation.

Those calling for the postponement of the ICC process are also not telling us that such postponement means we do not start dealing with the underlying reasons that drove Kenya to the 2007 PEV until it is convenient to these two gentlemen. More specifically they are asking that Kenya postpones developing processes that could stop a repeat of the atrocities of 2007 so that Uhuru Kenyatta can find out whether Kenyans want him as their President.

However the even more dangerous thing is the message sent from Limuru II to other Kenyan communities. By publicly and officially mobilizing tribal support for an issue that affects a few individuals GCA has opened up a Pandora’s box for other individuals to use their tribes to fight personal socio-political or legal battles. Basically we are saying that a Kalenjin, Kisii, Luhya, Luo, Maasai, Kamba, etc, suspect able to finance a tribal ‘Limuru’ can do so, and collect signatures to postpone facing the law.

The Kikuyus have a saying that an arrow sent at night should be responded to the same way. In this regard another Limuru meting has been convened. Limuru IIB will pick up from where Limuru IIA stopped and smooth out issues that have raised national concern. It will also be driven by a younger generation of leaders from those behind Limuru IIA.

Limuru IIB will first address core matters affecting the average member of the community such as high rates of youth unemployment; alcohol abuse; the resettlement of GEMA IDPs in various parts of the country; the abject poverty of more than 70pc of GEMA communities; the rejuvenation of the farming sector earnings (coffee, tea, milk, pyrethrum, vegetables, cereal, etc); the eradication of illicit brews; the low rates of transition from one level of education to another in the region; the rising incidents of crimes and insecurity; etc. A key discussion here will be the basis and mechanisms of identifying political office holders locally, regionally and nationally, in the next general election.

Limuru IIB will also look at the national picture. This will include looking at how the issues above compare to those of other communities in other parts of Kenya. This will entail looking at the national agendas, partnerships with other communities, and what role GEMA communities will play in setting the national agenda.

Key personalities expected in Limuru IIB include Mau Mau Veterans Chairman Gitu Kahengeri, Retired Archbishop David Gitari, Senior Counsel Paul Muite, Hon Gitobu Imanyara, Mutava Musyimi, etc. It’s co-convened with Maina Njenga and Mau Mau Children Network is expected. Young opinion leaders from other communities have also been invited as observers. We will look at the details of the meeting next week.

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