Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Independence

During the Moi era I would always hear the old man and his cronies complaining about foreign pressure, they would go as far as to denounce the diplomats for getting involved in Kenya's local politics. I must admit that my reaction to these tantrums was quite mixed, on the one hand I could see that the diplomats were putting forward valid points about the lack of political freedom, and transparency in government activities and the opposition would always support the diplomats. On the other hand, I am quite a patriotic Kenyan and do not like Muzungus lecturing my government on how to function, the term NEOCOLONIALISM would constantly pop in my mind, why are these bastards constantly bitching to my nation, I thought we were an independent nation. How would the people of America feel if our ambassador released a statement condemning Clinton for his moral shortcomings or problems with the procurement of meals from Halliburton? Would they not scream bloody murder. And then it hit me, contrary to what minister Kiraitu Murungi's contention that diplomats should not act like: "Local Partisan Political Activists" (EA Standard 2/10/05), foreign governments are indeed political activists in Kenya, they are a lobby group, and interest group that has a stake in how the country runs.

A wise man once uttered these words: "He [man] cannot be ECONOMICALLY FREE, or even ECONOMICALLY EFFICIENT, if he is ENSLAVED POLITICALLY; conversely, mans' POLITICAL FREEDOM is ILLUSORY if he is dependent for his ECONOMIC NEEDSon the state." Barry Goldwater, "The Conscience of a Conservative"

Senator Goldwater was speaking of communism and the welfare state, but I believe his words feet perfectly into our current dilemma. Kenya is heavily dependent for her economic survival on the largesse of donors, every year we need billions of shillings to plug budget shortfalls, and these funds usually come with conditions attached. These conditions typically give the donors significant sway on our policies and they therefore, become an interest group in our political arena. This has been so for a very long time and is unlikely to change, for a long time.

Is the situation a good thing or a bad thing? I do not know. Asked the Indians or Thais and they will probably tell you that getting foreign aid is not good. But what are the alternatives, I doubt our markets are mature enough to be able to survive the shocks that come with constant borrowing from the world market, what Thomas Friendman in his book: "The Lexus and Olive Tree", calls the "long and short horn herd". Putting on the " Golden straight jacket" could be more traumatic, and painful for our economy and people. I do not think that we have reached that point yet.

I have become resigned to the fact that for the foreseeable future, Kenya will continue to rely on foreign aid and with that, will have to adhere to the relatively lax "conditions" imposed on us by the donor countries. If Thomas Friedman has it right in his book, we could be facing more stringent conditions (though less intrusion into our politics) if we were to solely rely on the world financial markets for our aid.

"We refuse to be dictated to.We d not want FOREIGNERS to run our anti-corruption campaign." Vice President Moody Awori, Daily Nation 02/04/05

I am sorry uncle, if you want their money, you have to accept their input. They are just like any other constituent, probably even more powerful, they may not be able to vote your out of office, but they can make you stay in office very difficult, jus ask the former professor of politics.

2 Comments:

Blogger s! said...

man i totally agree with the issue you raised here.. if we want the shetani's money, we have to also welcome him into our home.. unfortunately enough! the western ambassadors have always played politics whenever they've been posted to nairobi..

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok i get the idea ur really into getting rid of poverty and all that stuff, save the eco-sysstems and the world from destruction of the environment! no jusqt kidding, LOL! and your frend nick is a total sucker at grammar and spelling and...plainly just everything to do with wriiten english. whatever. those blogs were too long to read except the latest one.

10:18 AM  

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