Watching Kenya

By Boniface Manyala
13th April 2011
Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo was on Monday captured by forces of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized leader of the country and subsequently handed over to Mr. Ouattara.
Pictures splashed to the world of Gbabgo in custody wearing a white vest can easily be described as embarrassing. Here was a man who not long ago was Ivory Coast’s most powerful person appearing in a sweaty undershirt after being captured by Ouattara’s forces.
Media reports indicated that he was captured when his bunker hideout was on fire.
Gbagbo’s end time was interesting. His appearance on TV may have been humiliating but the guy is said to have stubbornly refused to sign a statement ceding his claim to be the legitimate leader of Ivory Coast. Africa is full of drama if anyone is looking for an award winning movie storyline.
Alassane Ouattara, the recognized winner of elections, on the other hand was seen on state television looking very presidential and promising among other things, that Gbagbo would face justice. That is how it must be. Again, here a man whose desire to rule forcefully has led to several deaths and destruction.
As that country turns that painful page in its history, as Alassane Ouattara put it, it got me thinking just how many other leaders in Africa, and Kenya particularly would need that Gbagbo-like bunker to protect them from attacks when their day comes.
You see, Kenya like Ivory Coast has her own political Gbagbos and these people trust me will do anything to seize and control political power. If there’s anything that the disputed 2007 general elections should teach us as Kenyans is that political leadership is highly competitive and can result in serious loss of lives and destruction especially if the leadership is unwilling to compromise.
I am personally a peace loving Kenyan. And Kenyans in general are peace loving people, however, we must admit how easy it is for us to be misguided by our various political leaders to carry out atrocities and commit heinous crimes in their names. It has happened in this country before. It can happen again. As Kenyans, our prayer should be that the Ivory Coast situation does not befall us and neither does the 2007/2008 post-poll situation.
But as we reflect on the Gbagbo fate, just curiously I should ask, have our political leaders drawn any lesson from Gbagbo’s humiliating capture? There are very many lessons to learn from him. One of them that they could easily overlook which is so crucial is this: the fortified bunker.
History has well documented that brutal, despotic leaders, some of whom we have in Kenya have always scampered to their bunkers as a last resort. In fact leaders of most nations have them. German war leaders hid in bunkers built in Berlin. The Hamas know this. Their sorry leaders build them and hide in them. We may remember that former Iraq President Sadam Hussein was also captured hiding in Hilter-style bunker.
I hope that our political leaders will not miss this: the bunker. This is one facility they will need when everything else has failed. When your loyal supporters and tribesmen will have been scattered to the four winds and your army men or armed militia can hold no more, common sense should tell you that you will need a bunker. So go ahead, build a bunker.
Boniface Manyala is a Nairobi-based journalist and editor of Watching Kenya,

2 Replies to “Watching Kenya”

  1. I like this light concept. Unique. I just love Audi cars. If you have any idea, can you please tell me is there any other car which have this light feature?

    Semi Trucks

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