HOW SOCIETY ABUSES THE RIGHTS OF THE MENTALLY ILL.

1. Denying Children with mental health challenges (including epilepsy) the chance of attending regular schools.

2. Unreasonable restrictions: Locking them up in our homes – and sometimes at the hospitals.

3. Taking patients through injurious rituals (including certain forms of exorcisms) in the quest to get them healed through alternative means.

4. Beating them up when they are sick. In the absence of information, they are considered a general nuisance. Some sustain life threatening injuries.

5. The failure to provide proper hospitals, staffed and equipped by both the county and national governments.

6. Failure to provide drugs at a subsidized cost means that many psychiatric patients miss their doses and relapse into illness.

7. Locking up psychiatric patients (including those who are dependent on substances like alcohol) in prisons.

8. Terminating the employment of the mentally sick and refusing to take them back to work even when they are FULLY RECOVERED.

9. Making fun of mental illness, in a way that emphasises the false belief that the mentally ill are responsible for their illness and they should SNAP OUT OF IT.

10. Abandoning patients who have recovered from their illness at the health facilities. This is EXTREMELY COMMON. Nearly half of all the patients who are brought to the mental hospitals will be abandoned either temporarily or permanently. Only a few of the cases have anything to do with finances.

Lets do our rightful share in restoring the dignity of the sick – be it physical or mentall illness.

Article originally published on the facebook
#MentalHealthVoices During the 2016
#WorldMentalHealthDay.

AUTHOR: Dr Chitayi Murabula – Mental health advocate.

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UKABILA NI NINI?

UKABILA NI NINI?
Viongozi wa nchi ya Kenya ni viumbe wa ajabu sana. Mwanzo mghala muue na haki umpe, Vigogo hawa wamebarikiwa kwa kipawa kimoja; ushawishi wa maneno. Iwapo baadhi yao wangekuwa wahubiri wa injili basi ni wachache sana wangeukosa ufalme wa binguni.

Tangu zama za mwenda zake Adolf Hiltler , Yule kiongozi mkatili wa Ujerumani, ulimwengu haujashuhudia kiongozi aliyeweza kuyatawala mawazo ya wananchi wenzake kwa kiasi alichofikia huyu baradhuli wa chama cha Nazi. Ila watawala wa siasa za Kenya wanampa Hitler changamoto kubwa. Viongozi wa Kenya wanatishia kuivunja rekodi ya Hitler kwa utumizi wa porojo na chuki kama chombo cha kujinyakulia na kusalia kwenye mamlaka.

Waheshimiwa nchini Kenya wamebarikiwa kwa ufasaha wa maneno, vichekesho na matusi ila upungufu nao upo. Upungufu wenyewe hudhihirika wakati wanapohitajika kuambatanisha maneno na vitendo. Ni nadra sana kwa viongozi wa Kenya ‘kusema na kutenda’ jinsi wanavyojidai kwenye majukwaa ya siasa.

Ukilitazama swala la ukabila kwa umakini, kila mwanasiasa wa Kenya atahubiri umoja wa kitaifa (Ijapokuwa Ababu Namwamba anayehubiri umoja wa wazungumza kiluhya). Lakini heri anayehubiri na kunywa mvinyo kuliko anayehubiri sharubati na kunywa mvinyo.

Fauka ya wanayoyasema, akina Uhuru, Ruto , Kalonzo na Raila wamepata umaarufu wa kisiasa kupitia njia mbovu na potovu ya ukabila. Musalia wa Mudavadi naye anazidi kujongeajongea kwenye hili jukwaa la chuki na migawanyiko ya kikabila. Wote hawa wanajidai eti wao ni viongozi wa kitaifa lakini hakuna hata mmoja wao anayeweza kusema alivyosema mheshimika hayati Julius Nyerere kuwa ‘ukabila ni upumbafu.’ Wakisadifu kuyasema hayo, pindi tu wakimaliza usemi, vitendo vyao vya mapendeleo na ubaguzi wa kikabila vitawahukumu. Hatuna budi kuwaheshimu wahenga waliosema kuwa ada ya mja hunena, muungwana ni kitendo.

Hivi basi, ukabila ni nini?

Ukabila ni hali ya kimawazo inayomwongoza mja kuamini kuwa kabila lake ni la kipekee. Hali hii bila shaka humfanya mtu kuwa na kiburi . Akishakijaza kichwa chake kasumba hii, basi mapenzi yake kwa kabila lake hugeuka na kuwa chuki kwa yeyote asiyekuwa na ‘bahati’ ya kuzaliwa kwenye kabila hilo teule. Mwishowe huyu kiumbe atajenga imani kuwa kiongozi wa kabila lake asipotawala, wale ‘wadhaifu’ wa makabila mengine wataiharibu nchi. Huu ni upumbafu wa kiasi kikubwa sana.

Siamini kuwa ukabila unaletwa na maarifa ya mwanasiasa pekee. Ukabila ni hisia tunayozaliwa nayo. Mwanasiasa kwa ajili ya ‘uerevu’ wake hutafuta mafuta ya petroli akayanyunyiza kwenye makavu ya ukabila na kuwasha kiberiti. Hapo ndipo moto wa chuki huwaka, naye mwanasiasa husalia akijigamba kuwa yeye ni fahali. Kwa sababu ukabila ni ushenzi wa asilia, hata masomo hushindwa kuliondoa doa hilo. Hivyo basi haishangazi tena kuwaona vijana wachanga kwenye vyuo vikuu wakitapatapa kwenye huu uchafu wa kikabila na kugaragara kama nguruwe walio punguani. Wao hunena bila aibu kwenye mitandao kuwa kiongozi wa kabila lake eti ndiye anastahili kutawala Kenya. Maoni yangu ni kuwa huu ni ushenzi mtupu.

Siasa za Kenya hazina kikomo. Kila wakati tunayaweka masaa mengi sana kwenye malumbano ya kisiasa. Tayari, hawa vigogo wameanza kupimana nguvu wakilenga kujiongezea umaarafu kabla ya uchaguzi wa 2017. Tangu serikali ya Rais Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi ilipolegeza sheria na kuruhusu mfumo wa vyama vingi vya kisiasa, ukabila umeimarika.Sikumpenda sana rais Moi lakini namheshimu kwa hekima yake alipobashiri kuwa mfumo wa vyama vingi ungeleta migawanyiko ya kikabila. Hilo limefanyika. Ambalo halijafanyika ni hali ya kila mkenya kuukumbatia ukabila. Mimi ninahesabika kati ya hawa wananchi wanaosherehekea utaifa. Hili nalo lahitaji nguvu nyingi mithili mwogeleaji anayeogelea kwa kupingana na mkondo wa maji ya mto kama vile Nzoia au Tana. Asipoupiga moyo konde atabadislisha mwelekeo alivyofanya mheshimika Koigi wa Wamwere. Furaha yangu ni kwamba kunao wakenya wengi wanaoendeleza uasi dhidi ya ukabila.

Kunao wazaliwa wa Kenya ya kati wanaosema kuwa sio lazima mkikuyu atawale Kenya. Sio lazima mkamba atawale. Sio lazima mjaluo aingie ikulu. Sio lazima ikuwe eti ni Kalenjin au maasai au mluhya au mkisii. Sio lazima awe islamu au mkristo. Sio lazima awe mzaliwa wa pwani au mfugaji wa kuhama kutoka eneo la Turkana. Si lazima. Inawezekana pia iwe mkuria au mteso au jamaa kutoka bara hindi au hata Yule ambaye wazazi wake walikimbilia Kenya kutoka South Sudan naye akawa mwananchi wa Kenya kwa haki ya kuzaliwa. Inawezekana iwe muhindi ambaye wazazi wake waliingia Kenya kama wajenzi wa reli zaidi ya miaka mia moja iliopita achaguliwe kama rais wa Kenya. Kunao wakenya wanaosema kwa vinywa na mioyo yao kuwa haijalishi ni kabila gani, mkenya ni mkenya na wakenya wote ni sawa. Ukifikia pale umejikomboa.

Ukombozi wa kwanza, tuliwafukuza walowezi kutoka uropa tukajivunia kuwa waafrika huru. Ukombozi wa pili, tuliamua kujitawala kwa njia ya vyama vingi vya kisiasa. Tukasherehekea demokrasia. Ukombozi wa tatu utapatikana pale ambapo wakenya watashinda vita dhidi ya ukabila na kuwachagua viongozi kwa vigezo vipya. Hapo ndipo taifa la Kenya litastawi kwa kiasi cha kila mwananchi kufurahia matunda ya kazi yake. Hapo ndipo mzaliwa wa kibera, Mathare, Kangemi na Mukuru atashawishika kufanya bidii ya kujiondoa kwenye umaskini kwani atafahamu kuwa fanaka haiji tu kwa bahati na sibu ya sportpesa. Tutajua kuwa ukombozi wa tatu umefika wakati ambapo, itakuwa nadra sana kukutana na mtu maskini. Wakati ambapo makao yanayoitwa ‘vitongoji duni’ hayatakuwepo tena na magereza kukosa wafungwa kwani uhalifu utakuwa umedidimia. Hayo yote ni ya baadaye lakini mwanzo ni kupambana na ukabila kwa udi na ambari.

Kuzama kwa ukabila ndiko kuzaliwa kwa UKOMBOZI WA TATU

SONU ALUMNI FORUM PRESS STATEMENT

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE SONU ALUMNI FORUM ON THE UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI CRISIS

15TH MAY 2016

  1. We are the SONU alumni forum. This forum has over 75 members cutting across many generations of UoN alumni. We are motivated to speak on the ongoing UoN crisis by a deep sense of responsibility to protect the reputation of the University of Nairobi as a beacon of freedom and dignity. We are in full solidarity with current UoN students and their noble pursuit to attain an education that bolsters their freedom of conscience and expression.
  2. We are greatly shocked by the unfolding events at the University of Nairobi since the 2016 SONU elections held on 1st The unfolding crisis stands in total contrast to the University of Nairobi that we have known and identified with.
  3. Today we have 58 students who remain suspended and expelled from the university for completely unjustifiable reasons. Some of the reasons the university has suspended students include protesting the outcome of the SONU 2016 elections whose outcome , many of them deemed fraudulent. Protesting the outcome of a student election does not warrant a suspension or expulsion.
  4. It is worrying that the university has greatly lowered the threshold for suspending and expelling students. Punishment has been transformed into an instrument of intimidation , subjugation and oppression to chain students in fearful obedience against a multitude of grievances.
  5. We therefore demand that ALL students suspended or expelled in connection with the SONU 2016 ELECTIONS be reinstated immediately and unconditionally to continue with their studies.
  6. We wish to further ask the Vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi to allow a genuine process of dialogue and reconciliation among all parties to the SONU elections dispute. Only a genuine dialogue founded on truth, justice and mutual respect will catalyze a return to normalcy at the University of Nairobi
  7. We believe that the students union SONU requires urgent but genuine student – led constitutional reforms to ensure that management of student affairs is accountable and transparent. Honest and lasting reforms at SONU should preceded by true reconciliation.
  8. The University of Nairobi should allow students all the constitutional rights guaranteed by the Kenyan constitution including freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association. Students must not be punished for demonstrating peacefully.
  9. A pro-student approach must be undertaken to rehabilitate students who may be experiencing substance misuse problems. We would also want to appeal for a proper medical and psychological rehabilitation for students alleged to have been assaulted by police officers during the April 2016 protests.
  10. We are disappointed that despite having forwarded similar proposals to the university on 4th May 2016 no response has been forthcoming. We are allowing a further window period of 48 hours for the University of Nairobi management to act on our proposals failure to which we will be obliged to take alternative measures to have the suspended and expelled students reinstated.

 

SONU ALUMNI FORUM.

WHY I WANT PROJECT KENYA TO TRIUMPH

 

Kenyan scholar Dr David Ndii penned an opinion piece in the Daily Nation 26th March with the eye catching title ‘Kenya is a cruel marriage, it is time to talk divorce.’ Many Kenyans share in the frustrations borne out of pernicious socio-economic inequalities both horizontal and vertical. However few would welcome the proposal of annulling this great republic even as a last resort.

While sharing in the opinion that tribalism and corruption are likely to thwart our claim to nationalism, breaking up the nation into micro-states as proposed by Dr Ndii may result in an unimaginable apocalypse whose pain could prove unbearable.

Once the proposed nation states are established through whichever treaties, millions of Kenyans will be at risk of forcible transfer back to their ancestral homes. This will include Kenyans living in Nairobi , Nakuru, Mombasa and other major towns and in some cases rural areas. It is highly likely that in the madness of ‘watu warudi makwao’ innocent citizens will be persecuted and even killed in waves of ethnic cleansing. Law and order may collapse for unspecified periods as the security forces are forced to redeploy and reorganise along ethnic lines. A fight within the disciplined forces could even ensue spilling to the citizenry.

While we concede that deep, horizontal comradeship has not fully taken root in Kenya, we must acknowledge the interaction that was commonplace among different Kenyan communities before , during and after colonialism. This interaction pre-eminently seen in marriages , education, spiritual fellowships and business has made Kenyan communities heavily interdependent on one another more than maybe appreciated at first sight. Splitting the country into forty plus states would break up families, disrupt education and set the mini-states backwards in commerce, philosophy and spirituality.

I share in the opinion that we have squandered a few chances to unite. The greatest responsibility for these failures must be carried by those who have had the chance to lead the nation namely our former presidents and their henchmen. The advent of multi-party democracy was particularly unique given that most of the second liberation heroes had suffered under the one party oppressive state. However greed for power and selfishness among the opposition leaders of the early 1990s and to a small extent ideological differences became the Achilles heel of FORD – the progressive movement of the day. Seeds of tribal discord were sown and KANU ruled for another ten years into the new millennium.

The seeds of ethnic chauvinism from the 1990s have germinated and grown into carnivorous ‘triffids’ feeding on nationalism. Needless to say , ethnicity is seen as a legitimate gateway to national leadership and all major political leaders in Kenya today boast tribal strongholds(unashamedly). This is fraud and a continuation of the first sin by the founding fathers. Greed for power by a handful of elites has turned our elections into ethnic supremacy contests instead of being seen as a competition between ideas and development programs.

Democracy should ideally provide us with reasonable insurance against bad leadership. However ethnicity, corruption and weak institutions have compounded the Kenyan national headache. Kenyan scholars must continue advancing a debate that seeks to customize democracy to fit our diversity. I have found arguments around a rotating presidency particularly compelling.

If project Kenya succumbs to a break up, I am not sure if the resulting states will enjoy good governance and security. The devolution experiment has already given us glimpses on how micro-states would face management hurdles including corruption and clanism. The civil war in south Sudan should also provide caution that while communities will unite to fight a perceived common enemy, the same communities tend to implode once the uniting objective is removed or met.

There may be no magic bullet that will immediately fix the problem of tribalism. However Kenyans must know that leadership through the aristocracy of tribal messiahs is a sure path to destruction. We must start by rejecting ethnic chiefs and their coalitions.Kenya needs more ideologues going into leadership and inaugurating the spirit of Nyerereism in Kenya.We want to see elected and appointed leaders using public schools and hospitals. The over 11,000 security officers who watch over these privileged leaders should be freed to deal with threats such as terrorism, cattle rustling and violent crimes in our homes and streets.

Its not enough to simply declare that the Kenyan prognosis is grave then sit on the fence. If project Kenya fails, it will be our pain and shame before the world. We must fight to protect the Kenyan civilization.

Tanzania has more than one hundred tribes but nobody in that country cares very much about ethnic identity. The mistakes of Kenyatta, moi , kibaki and Kenyatta cannot be fixed by destroying our Kenyan identity but strengthening it and employing new thinking to solve our chronic problems.

I AM SORRY BUT YOUR TRIBE IS NOT SUPERIOR

Some time back , the kenyan civilization went into a frenzy when Kiambu governor hon. William Kabogo made remarks that seemed to question the intelligence of his political opponents on the basis of circumcision.

A majority of Kenyans disapproved of Hon Kabogo’s remarks as advancing hate speech and its clearest outcome, ethnic animosity.

While such condemnation of unbecoming politicians is healthy, Kenyans in their everyday lives have mastered the skill of promoting their tribal image while cleverly framing inferior stereotypes to denigrate members of ‘other’ communities.

Nearly 90% of all Kenyan humor appears to revolve around ethnicity and the attendant stereotypes. The problem with stereotypes, thinks Chimamanda Ngozi, is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.

It is for this reason that certain voices within the Kenyan society have been raised against excessive usage of ethnic humor. While delivering a speech on national cohesion in 2012, the Kenyan chief justice Dr Willy Mutunga cautions against negative ethnic profiling that is sometimes aided by parody. He calls for the purging from national discourse of pejorative commentaries present in comedy.

It is not that those who call for an end to the era of ethnic jokes are not appreciative of the role of art in our society. It is simply a sacrifice that must be made in the interest of national cohesion. Many years back the celebrated Nigerian writer made a case against ethnicity when he aptly stated that ‘Whereas irrational love can engender foolish acts of indiscretion, irrational hate can endanger the whole community.’

The phenomenon of ethnic branding seems to have taken root in our society. It rides on vernacular phrases weaved to promote a sense of superiority of one culture over the rest. It denounces the equality of all Kenyan cultures as envisaged in our constitution and relegates a majority Kenyans to the periphery of subjugation albeit psychologically.

While the politician is often subjected to harsh criticism when caught propagating irrational hate, Kenyans on a daily basis promote tribalism by pledging the superiority of their ethnic enclaves. In no other groups is this travesty more repugnant than in the educated of our society. While a once in while phrase in vernacular might be welcome, the consistent use of one’s mother tongue in public spaces such as social media is a dangerous sign of ethnic branding and bigotry.

In November 1945 an international military tribunal was opened at Nuremberg in Germany to prosecute war crimes committed by former nazi leaders. The lead judge justice Jackson in his opening remarks exposed the philosophy of pathological ethnic pride that was employed to propel Hitlers party to power. Judge Jackson says of the nazi criminals, ‘They excited the German ambition to be a “master race”, which of course implies serfdom for others. They led their people on a mad gamble for domination.’

The end result of this philosophy was cruelty, state terrorism, violence, death and the suffering of millions of peaceful citizens both within and outside Germany.

In the interest of a peaceful and prosperous society we must quickly embrace unconditional equality of all Kenyan communities by exercising nationalism all the time instead frequenting our ethnic cocoons for inspiration. We must acknowledge that nationalism and tribalism are mutually exclusive.

NB: Article first published on the facebook wall of Chitayi Murabula.

WHY THE NYAKUNDI ARTICLE ON THE 2011 DOCTORS STRIKE IS IDLE HOGWASH

A recent post published on the cnyakundi blog titled ‘2011 doctors strike, How 3 individuals sold out their colleagues to uhuru for a few coins’ is gutter, utter hogwash. The article tramples on history with impunity, liquidating the dignity of the Kenyan doctor while randomly urinating on former KMPDU leaders’ reputation. Nyakundi deliberately sidesteps facts to attain a pre-meditated motive of slander.

The propagandist article opens with an icing on what soon turns out to be a completely rotten cake. The writer cleverly seeks credibility by giving a detailed narration of the historical events of the 1994 doctors strike in about four paragraphs totaling to approximately 500 words. It is quite an interesting read which should in any other circumstance capture the attention of the reader by sugar coating the poison to be served thereafter.

It is only when the taste of the sugar coating becomes familiar that one soon discovers that the lengthy historical introduction is plagiarized work from 2011. That’s when the reader realizes that he is reading the work of a certified fraud.

It is factual to state that half of Nyakundi’s article on the doctors strike of 2011 that was published on 11th March 2016 is plagiarized word for word from the blog , ‘Walter’s world’ penned by mr Walter Menya on December 8th 2011. The story was then written under the heading ‘Are Kenyan doctors in it for the long haul like their colleagues in 1994?’

A quick comparison of the two articles uncovers plagiarism-the worst form of intellectual dishonesty and a betrayal of intellectual bankruptcy on the part of Cyprian Nyakundi. At no point in his own fake ‘expose’ does Cyprian Nyakundi acknowledge that he has stolen half of the article and predictably the only factual part. The discretion to sue remains with Mr. Menya.

The rest of the article conveniently gives the truth a wide berth. It fails to state that the quest for a doctors union that started in 1994 was triumphantly accomplished in 2011 when young doctors overcame every imaginable barrier to get KMPDU registered. It is out of this commitment that on the day the new officials were elected as substantive officials, they announced industrial action.

The author remains pretentious; putting up a show to feign solidarity with the doctors while failing to acknowledge the gains made through the fledgling union then. He, for instance says, ‘After 9 days of industrial action that had cornered the grand coalition government and held it by its balls , a flurry of night meetings and “special delegates” meetings were hurriedly convened……’ I wish to inform the author that a workers strike is not a ball holding contest. Inasmuch as he is excited about that aspect, the leadership of the KMPDU executive council was pre-occupied with getting a salary increment for doctors and starting the nation on a path of better healthcare. KMPDU achieved its objectives.

Mr. Nyakundi may not be aware (or may not be interested in knowing) that negotiations had started way before the strike. The first meeting between the ministry of medical services was held between the then minister Prof. Anyang Nyongo and ourselves on 21st November 2011. When the strike ended we had been negotiating for over three weeks with more than five offers tabled and rejected by our union at various instances. The offer that my national executive accepted awarded doctors a 100% increase in pay. This has been lauded as probably the highest workers gain from a single strike in the history of trade unionism in Kenya. If in your opinion the strike should have gone on, am sorry the national executive of KMPDU thought otherwise and made a decision to accept a 100% salary hike and reopen our public hospitals. There are no regrets. Doctors who were part of the 1994 strike have constantly given approval of our achievement in the 2011 doctors’ strike both then and now.

Also coming out of the 2011 strike is a document called ‘The Musyimi task force report.’ To date this remains the most comprehensive document on reorganization of healthcare delivery in Kenya. Mr Nyakundi I challenge you to read the Musyimi report, synthesize it and share it with your governor back home for local implementation. That will be of greater use to the mwananchi than your hawking of lies in the name of blogging.

As for the bribery allegations made in the same article, they sound like the incantations of a charlatan who having failed to give his audience substance gives them glorified rubbish. What is supposed to be the central theme of the article becomes a one liner concealed as ‘a theory that gained currency amongst the medical fraternity was that bribes exchanged hands.’ That’s underwhelming to say the least. The statement reeks of dishonesty and paints your blogging work as propaganda and yourself as a character assassin. Beyond that point a lawyer comes in handy and a court of law becomes a necessity.

The article sinks further into personality attacks even to the point of name calling. An article that without basis refers to an individual as a clown belongs to the dustbin. In this regard, and to prove you wrong, I invite you to a ‘who’s the clown now’ challenge where we can debate this matter.

The constitution gives all of us the freedom to belong to any movement and party. Workers’ unions influencing political activities is an old phenomenon and it is not even unique to Kenya. In South Africa the tripartite agreement signed between the ANC, SACP and COSATU in the 1980s remains in force today. Tom Mboya believed that trade unions should produce leaders and they did. Out of the Kenyan labour movement came the likes of Bildad Kaggia and Fred Kubai. During the 2013 general elections the late George Muchai was elected member of the national assembly while serving as the secretary general of COTU.

At this point in the history of Kenya, our workers must exercise the freedom to belong to a worker friendly party which will improve their wages hence their standard of living.

Bwana Nyakundi , kindly note that I have defended you many times when you are in custody. I am still willing to defend you on condition that the next time you sit down to pen your next propaganda article, do thorough research, don’t plagiarize the work of others and avoid making wild allegations against fellow citizens.

DR CHITAYI MURABULA.

FORMER SECRETARY GENERAL , KMPDU.

MEMBER , THIRDWAY ALLIANCE KENYA.

Twitter @Dr_chitayi

HOW THE BURUNDI CRISIS IS REDIFNING PAN-AFRICANISM

Eight months of an escalating crisis in Burundi continues to raise deep concerns on the stability of Africa’s democracies. Nowhere else in the world is this concern deeper than within the East African Community (EAC), an economic bloc of five countries to which Burundi is a member.

The nomination of the incumbent president Pierre Nkurunzinza by his CNDD/FDD party to vie for a third presidential term in April sparked violent protests. Those opposed to the third term cite the Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement of 2000. The agreement signed to end many years of civil war in Burundi provided that one could only be elected president of Burundi for a term of five years, renewable only once. The agreement further provided that the first election would be indirect.

President Pierre Nkurunzinza was indirectly elected by members of the Burundi national assembly and senate in August 2005 for a five year term. He was later re-elected in 2010. It is however the first term that has generated controversy with supporters of the president insisting that the first term did not count given that the president was not elected directly by the people making him eligible for another term.

The confirmation of president Nkurunzinza to vie in the 2015 election by the constitutional court further worsened the violence. The run up to the July election was characterized by resignations of high ranking Burundi government officials including the vice-presidents of the electoral commission and the constitutional court.

The electoral commission of Burundi declared president Nkurunzinza the victor in the controversial July 21st presidential elections that were boycotted by most of the opposition candidates. The East African Community (EAC) Observer Mission to the Burundi election concluded that the electoral process ‘fell short of the principles and standards for holding free, fair , peaceful , transparent and credible elections as stipulated in various international, continental as well as the EAC principles of election observation and evaluation.

President Pierre Nkurunzinza went ahead to be sworn in for a third term promising to crush his opponents with ‘the aid of God’ and ‘scatter them like flour in the air’ in his victory speech.

The developments in Burundi are raising serious concerns on the commitment of the East African Community and African Union leaders towards ideals of peace, democracy and human rights on the continent.

The Burundi conflict has claimed at least 400 lives and caused the displacement of over 220,000 people. There are also thousands who are reportedly displaced internally.

A number of emergency summits by the EAC heads of state have failed to find a solution to the crisis. The Burundi mediation ship has hardly left port.

On 18th December, the African Union peace and Security Council authorized the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU), for an initial period of six months renewable. This decision was made in light of a deteriorating situation in Burundi characterized by human rights abuses. There are also fears that the response by the government has disproportionately targeted the Tutsis strategically manipulating the crisis and willfully pushing it towards an ethnic dimension. Arbitrary closure of some civil society organizations and media has further shrunk the democratic space in Burundi.

The deployment of MAPROBU is in line with article 4 of the constitutive act of the African Union which provides for ‘The right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.’

The Burundi government has continued to reject the African Union peacekeepers stating that troops were not needed since the country had a democratically elected government. The United Nations Security Council supports the deployment of the peace-keeping troops and warned that ‘alternative options’ might be considered if the mediation efforts did not start immediately.

The citizens of East African Community have moved to express solidarity with the people of Burundi. There have been demonstrations, vigils and lighting of candles in honor of the victims of the Burundi conflict. On 22nd December , an online dialogue forum dubbed #KenyansWithBurundi was organized to chart a roadmap towards peace in Burundi. The panelists for the forum were drawn from both Kenya and Burundi. The Burundi crisis was the most discussed topic on social media in Kenya that day and has remained a topic of great interest and concern in East Africa.

During the #KenyansWithBurundi forum, commentators from both Kenya and Burundi criticized both the African leadership and the international community for taking too long to intervene in Burundi. They called for President Pierre Nkurunzinza to be held accountable for atrocities reported in Burundi. The online users expressed concern that the humanitarian situation in Burundi was dire and worsening. The continuation of the crisis was termed as likely to undermine democracy and stability on the continent.

Buoyed by social media, the citizens of Africa are making their voices heard in a way that was unthinkable as recently as ten years ago. The wishes of the ordinary African citizen were previously articulated at the pleasure of the respective government. This old script appears to be changing. Pan-africanism seems to be getting a new meaning and image. While the concept of pan-africanism was founded on grievances borne out of the legacy of colonialism and later neo-colonialism, the young generation in Africa is keen to see a pan-African spirit re-born and anchored on the pursuit of peace, justice and democracy.

The debate on the extension of presidential terms in Africa is not new. It could appear that Burundi is on the dull end of a spectrum whose ‘less dark’ end is represented by Rwanda. On 18th December, Rwandans voted overwhelmingly in a referendum that gives Kagame the opportunity to carry on as president till 2034. In 2005, President Yoweri Museveni who earlier in his leadership had criticized African leaders who overstay in power changed the constitution allowing him a third term. President Museveni is currently serving a fourth term and will by vying for a fifth in 2016. Other presidents who have extended their stay in office include Paul Biya of Cameroon, Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Dennis Sassou Nguesso of Congo. The president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaore was ousted through popular uprising following plans to extend his term in 2014.

During President Barack Obama’s remarks to the African people delivered from Addis Ababa during the African Union summit in July, the American president stated that Africa’s democratic progress was imperiled by leaders who refused to step aside when their terms ended. He warned that extending term of office could be the first step towards strife. President Obama challenged African leaders to follow the example set by Nelson Mandela and George Washington who both left a legacy of transferring power peacefully.

Some notable African leaders who have been feted for leaving at the end of their terms include Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia. These five former leaders are laureates of the Mo Ibrahim prize which celebrates former African heads of state who were democratically elected, served their constitutionally mandated term and demonstrated exceptional leadership.

The Burundi crisis presents the greatest challenge to continental leadership since the Arab spring. The ordinary African citizen has chosen to identify with the aspirations of the ordinary Burundi citizen. An ideological rift appears to be developing between the cautious diplomacy of the older African leader and the energetic solidarity of the yo

unger generation. This rift represents the difference between the old and new spirit of pan-africanism.

NB : The article was first published in the February 2016 edition of ‘the platform kenya’ magazine

DR CHITAYI MURABULA.

Twitter: @Dr_chitayi