Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On Jan 3, 2008 Remember Tiananmen Square 1989

A lone unarmed (well he had some shopping bags) pedestrian stood in front of a column of tanks. Tank-Man (as he is now known) stopped the power of the great Red Army. If he was so successful, what can we not accomplish on January 3rd, even if Kibaki has the army.

TIME 100: The Unknown Rebel: "Almost nobody knew his name. Nobody outside his immediate neighborhood had read his words or heard him speak. Nobody knows what happened to him even one hour after his moment in the world's living rooms. But the man who stood before a column of tanks near Tiananmen Square — June 5, 1989 — may have impressed his image on the global memory more vividly, more intimately than even Sun Yat-sen did. Almost certainly he was seen in his moment of self-transcendence by more people than ever laid eyes on Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and James Joyce combined."

On January 3rd, 2008 Raila and the ODM Pentagon have announced a "Million Man March" to Uhuru Park Nairobi to demonstrate to the government their ire at the flawed electoral tallying process. I am glad that ODM plans to continue holding the rally in spite of a Government ban. We need to do whatever we can to enhance democracy in Kenya, but ODM should insist that its supporters not carry sticks, stones or machetes -- and that they do not rape, pillage and steal as they have done in the last few days. If they carry weapons -- even defensive weapons -- they will fritter away any international support and sympathy that they have and encourage the security forces to respond aggressively.

I am much more pro-Kenya than pro any particular candidate. I want Kenya to be a great place for my children and their children, and importantly, for your children too. In the months prior to the election I had been, if anything, somewhat sympathetic to the Kibaki Tena campaign, if only because of the astounding economic growth that has sprouted in his term. But the last four days have shaken any faith I had in the establishment, in the "wazees". I can assure you that if there was another election today I would not vote for the Kibaki team. (It also makes my decision easier because Raila Odinga and the Pentagon more closely reflect Kenya's diverse ethnicities than the Kibaki, Michuki, Karume, Karua and Kimunya gang.

Yesterday, in what I believe has to be an unprecedented admission of culpability and unconscionable dereliction of duty, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya admitted today that he had been under immense pressure from PNU and ODM-K to release the results and under corresponding opposite pressure from diplomats and the Kenya Human Rights Commission to hold the results back for a week.

I am disappointed with Mwai Kibaki, he appears removed from reality. His New Year message was tinny and he referred to the election "free and fair". How did he make that determination? His government has banned the rally on Thursday, but it MUST GO ON. If we could all just stop thinking about the Kenya of our lifetime and think about what we must do for our progeny, it is clear that we cannot acquiesce. We insist on having a truly democratic country and peaceful mass demonstrations are a fundamental cornerstone of democracy.

If there is one message I would like to leave everyone with it is that of a lone unarmed person standing up to a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He continues to have significant impact on many lives, including my own. There is immense power in non-aggression. Our policemen and other security agents are themselves citizens and many of them sympathize with ODM. I do not see them attacking peaceful demonstrators carrying olive branches instead of machetes. Kibaki, in the end, will have to concede.


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