So-ve-reign: Part 1

So this ICC mess? What kind of crack are these people smoking?

I have a prezzo throwing tantrums in Addis, while his DP prays at the Hague. A Foreign Minister misguidedly devoted to the cause of one man (admittedly her boss, but still one man), and an A.G. who appears to serve the president and not the republic (again, his boss, but still…). A bloated parliament constipated on it’s delusions of grandeur, including the opposition party/coalition/carcass that spends more time walking out of the (not) august house than into it. An office of the prosecutor which seems not to have read the files Ocampo created, assuming he actually created real files and not little post-its with the contact details of Barasa type witness ‘managers’. A court of last resort that relies on the government of the accused to provide evidence that may prove their guilt. An AU so fucking idle they only meet to discuss weighty matters like the pressing need for sitting presidents to have immunity from said court. A UN security council that ‘speaks’ on serious world issues, yet allows abstentions during crucial votes, in the name of diplomacy. A media that repeatedly talks about ‘Kenya pulling out of the ICC’, ‘Kenya pushing for deferral’, ad nauseum, when they know full well that ‘Kenya’ has done no such thing. A civil society busy screaming, ‘I told you so!’ while the noose tightens around their necks. A president borrowing from the East, while he pays his fancy lawyers from the West, all sovereign like.

I ask again, what the fuck kind of crack are these buggers smoking?

Una damu mkononi na asali mdomoni,
Matendo yako ni maovu, matamshi yako ni matamu,
Nimeomba haujaamini, nimeimba hausikii,
Nimebishabisha, nimeitana na mlango haufungui…

Whenever I need to have a woosaaaa moment because of the idiot politicians and their lackeys, I put on some Eric (H.T.H.O.M.H.S.B.O.T.S.95…you know, it’s actually faster to type it all out, bloody nkt!) Wainaina. I love this man, if for no other reason than he puts his money where his mouth is (and vice versa, perhaps?). He talks about making things better, then he goes and gets involved. That he makes real music is a bonus. Really. If I’m not wrong, and I may be, ‘Ukweli’ is the Father Kaiser song, a story that one day, when I am no longer angry at Julius and Co., I shall write about. It’s somewhat personal, is all I’m saying, and it’s somewhat profound. And danceable. That’s right, I said danceable. I believe songs of protest must be funky, funky or soulful, or both, how else to laugh in the face of the oppressor than with shaking hips, no?

Ukweli hauna kifo,
Ukweli hauna mwisho,
Na wewe umejaa vitisho,
Ukweli hauna mwisho…

Thanks to the brilliance of 6 or so million Kenyans (thanks a lot, by the way), we now have a government that believes itself…special. That our government dedicates it’s every waking moment to the fate of one (or two, depending) gentlemen is a testament to all that is wrong in our leadership, scratch that, society. These geniuses were elected with these cases hanging over the heads. They even used it to their advantage, claiming persecution and screaming bloody so-ve-reign when challenged to explain possible consequences. Half the electorate said, ‘Fuck it!’ and ticked those boxes. Then after all that macho bravado, the first thing these buggers did was hire a jet and hop across the continent in search of AU support, Kenya: Ruto Denies ICC Shuttle Diplomacy. Support for what? This is where the plan got truly brilliant. Someone, somewhere, got it into his head that the African Union were the people who could kill these cases, because that worked so well when Kalonzo tried it, Former VP Kalonzo Musyoka led Cabinet ministers in worldwide push to bring ICC cases to Kenya.

Detour. The shamelessness of katikati yao knows no bounds. The man had the gall to castigate the government for pulling the exact same stunt he pulled Former VP Kalonzo Musyoka condemn AU on ICC. What the… They walk amongst us, truly. Moving swiftly along.

So the geniuses ran around the continent, trying to rope their fellow despots, sorry, leaders into their most brilliant plan to finish this ICC story, once and for all. Egged on by our neighbour, he who referred Kony to that same court, without undue ‘external’ pressure mind you, the Jubilee gaa’ment went all out to woo the continent, talking about racism and imperialism, all that good stuff guaranteed to raise the black man’s temperature just so. It culminated in Addis, with an Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (we are nothing if not ambitious, ours had to be extra, no?), during which our president took to the podium with what I am told was quite a rousing speech. I didn’t listen to it, I didn’t even bother to read it days after, content to bask in my ignorance and secure in my knowledge that all the fancy words uttered at the AU would amount to precisely fuck all, if the past is any indication. However, because I don’t like to talk about things I know nothing about (stop laughing), I dug up said speech, Speech by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Extraordinary Session of the African Union, and I am bloody impressed. Our president gives good speech. Well, his speech writers write good speech, and he delivers very well, what with his slightly clipped English accent.

What is the fate of International Justice? I daresay that it has lost support owing to the subversive machinations of its key proponents. Cynicism has no place in justice. Yet it takes no mean amount of selfish and malevolent calculation to mutate a quest for accountability on the basis of truth, into a hunger for dramatic sacrifices to advance geopolitical ends. The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers.

This is the circumstance which today compels us to agree with the reasons US, China, Israel, India and other non-signatory States hold for abstaining from the Rome Treaty. In particular, the very accurate observations of John R Bolton who said, “For numerous reasons, the United States decided that the ICC had unacceptable consequences for our national sovereignty. Specifically, the ICC is an organization that runs contrary to fundamental American precepts and basic constitutional principles of popular sovereignty, checks and balances and national independence.” Our mandate as AU, and as individual African States is to protect our own and each other’s independence and sovereignty. The USA and other nations abstained out of fear. Our misgivings are born of bitter experience. Africa is not a third-rate territory of second-class peoples. We are not a project, or experiment of outsiders.

It was always impossible for us to uncritically internalise notions of justice implanted through that most unjust of institutions: colonialism. The West sees no irony in preaching justice to a people they have disenfranchised, exploited, taxed and brutalised. Our history serves us well: we must distrust the blandishments of those who have drunk out of the poisoned fountain of imperialism.

At this point I was about to throw out my Obama poster and Union Jack tea towel (gift from sight seeing relatives), feeling all African and shit. Then I read on…

Every plea we have made to be heard before that court has landed upon deaf ears. When Your Excellencies’ resolution was communicated to the Court through a letter to its president, it was dismissed as not being properly before the Court and therefore ineligible for consideration.

When a civil society organisation wrote a letter bearing sensational and prejudicial fabrications, the Court took urgent and substantial decisions based on it. Before the ICC, African sovereign nations’ resolutions are NOTHING compared with the opinions of civil society activists. The AU is the bastion of African sovereignty, and the vanguard of our unity. Yet the ICC deems it altogether unworthy of the minutest consideration.

Presidents Kikwete, Museveni, Jonathan and Zuma have pronounced themselves on the court’s insensitivity, arrogance and disrespect. Leaders in my country have escalated their anxiety to the national Parliament, where a legislative process to withdraw altogether from the Rome Treaty is under consideration. As I said, it would not be right to ignore the fact that concern over the conduct of the ICC is strong and widespread.

There is very little that remains for me to say about the slights that the ICC continue to visit upon the nations and people of Africa. We want to believe in due process before the ICC, but where is it being demonstrated?

We want to see the ICC as fair and even-handed throughout the world, but what can we do when everyone but Africa is exempt from accountability? We would love nothing more than to have an international forum for justice and accountability, but what choice do we have when we get only bias and race-hunting at the ICC? Isn’t respect part of justice? Aren’t our sovereign institutions worthy of deference within the framework of international law? If so, what justice can be rendered by a court which disregards our views?

Our mandate is clear: sovereignty and unity. This is the forum for us to unite and categorically vindicate our sovereignty.

Hmmm… Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re laughing very hard at a joke someone has just cracked, only to realise that everyone else is laughing at you, because you’re the butt of said joke? I stopped laughing.

After all their machinations, all they left Addis with was a request, actually, a plan to make a request.

A group led by the AU chair with representatives from Africa’s five regions will press the U.N. Security Council to defer proceedings against Kenya’s leadership and the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al Bashir, who faces charges of genocide.” And what about the much talked about leaving of the ICC? “However, ministers did not call for a mass walk-out from the court’s jurisdiction, after officials previously said such a proposal would be on the agenda. The idea did not win broad support among Africa’s 34 signatories to the court’s statutes. AU calls for halt to ICC cases against Kenyan and Sudanese leaders

Now I’m not a politician, but when I spend considerable time and money on a project, I expect to see tangible results. Five months of continuous cajoling and all they got out of it was a plan to press the security council? Press who now? Lakini, you just called the permanent members of said council names? What was it again…ah yes, they have ‘disenfranchised, exploited, taxed and brutalised’ the African people. I may not be a brilliant negotiator, but even I know not to spit at the shopkeeper before he hands over my bread. Just a thought.

There’s blood on your fingers
Honey flows from your tongue

Flush with their sterling success, the Africans headed off to New York…