Boniface Mwangi is Turning to Be a Deadly Tragedy to Civil Society in Kenya

By Dikembe Disembe

Boniface Mwangi is such a fraud. Either he doesn’t have a clear knowledge on matters governance or he just seeks to sabotage the thinking process of Kenyans in their daily struggle to have a democratic government.

First, he tells us that on the day to Saba Saba he was writing booklets containing the graphic photos of the 2007/08 violence which he delivered to CORD leaders (and some Jubilee leaders) because ethnic tension was rising in the country.

There has been prayer rallies where Jubilee politicians are setting the stage for another ethnic strife, why is Mwangi not giving his books to Jubilee MPs? Has Boniface Mwangi ever sought to give his books to the hate spewing Moses Kuria or even the President himself (Uhuru once banged tables in Kameme FM and called Luos, Kihii)?

The pictures, some of which he doesn’t even have copyright ownership of, have been used by Mwangi to fundraise all over the world. He has easily had his way in the USAID Kenya (mainly controlled by ethnic Kikuyus) and DFID, after developing a personal relationship with British High Commissioner Christian Turner, enabling him to ensure financial health of his ethnic-driven activism.

On the legal front, you will never get Boniface Mwangi to have a serious legal challenge in the Mutunga courts when the Chief Justice is his personal friend who graces almost every petty event Mwangi organises.

In his search for funds, he has forever masked his true identity, belief and intentions. He has not revealed that he has deeply rooted hate for people who doesn’t subscribe to his narrow ethnic biased interpretation and understanding of governance in Kenya.

Worse, what made Mwangi famous are some photos he apparently took at the heart of the 2007/08 violence. How did he survive all those marauding Mungiki gangs to take his graphic shots? Was he part of them? Were the Mungiki gangs so sympathetic to his ideals that they left him unscathed? Or did they spare him because he silently encouraged them to kill the infidels so that he could earn his keep?

One may say he was a journalist but there are also those who say he was part of the PNU/Kikuyu propaganda machine. There are those who remember his office at the Uniafric House where he secretly assembled an entrepreneurial gang of photographers who used ethnic incitement as a passport to free passage in Mungiki controlled areas.

Mwangi had passage and protection in areas where even BBC, Nation, Standard, Citizen, Aljazeera and CNN feared sending their scribes.

But a more poignant explanation to his successful photojournalism is that he camouflaged himself among ‘his’ people. They accepted him as ‘one of them’. Ask yourself why after having such a rare front-row access and witnessing one of the worst massacres, Boniface Mwangi never signed up to be a witness in any of the trials of perpetrators, locally or abroad. All over the world, we can remember the contribution of journalists in the trial and convictions of war crimes suspects in places like Rwanda, Cambodia, apartheid South Africa, Armenia, Germany, Kosovo or even closer home in The Congo.

Since Mwangi believes so much in being the know-it-all advisor and critic of the opposition and less of the government, I would also advise Mwangi to give his books to thousands of his community’s youths who are currently being mobilized, psyched up and paraded through the new anti-CORD) prayer rallies. I urge him to see the urgent need of intervening and using his fame to rationally dialogue with his community which is being bandied around what is coming out to be an anti-Luos and anti-Raila propaganda rallies and lies.

Saba Saba was a peaceful event inspired by what happened in Tanzania and beyond. While people like Boniface Mwangi have monetised doom, anarchy, destruction and scaremongering being visited on Kenyans by their friends and ethnic gods, they rarely get to rationally think through on what the real role of the various political entities are and if they do, their interpretation is always to make anyone who doesn’t belong to their ethnic-moral community condemned.

Having been sponsored enough times by the entities he has conned by masking his true identity, Mwangi should by now be politically mature and sober to appreciate that in a democracy, public sentiments are gathered and canvassed in public settings -in political settings – which is the definition of ‘political rallies’.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, below are some of the definitions of the word ‘rally’:

1. a mustering of scattered forces to renew an effort

2. a summoning up of strength or courage after weakness or dejection

3. a recovery of price after a decline

4. a renewed offensive

5. a mass meeting intended to arouse group enthusiasm

Mwangi should also believe in Kenya’s constitution which allows citizens to attend political gatherings. A political rally gives effect to article 33 (1) (a) and (b) of the constitution of Kenya 2010, thus:

1) Every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes–

(a) freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas;

(b) freedom of artistic creativity;

The question young Kenyans are faced with is this: Is ‘activipreneurship’ killing the culture of democratic agitation at a time the country is clearly getting militarised and set up for slaughter?  Worse, is Mwangism killing activism?

If the so called new age activists claim to further the ends of democracy, but their understanding of democracy is as shallow as Boniface Mwangi’s understanding of it, we can still fail.

Moving forward, we need to ask ourselves if activipreneurship is a threat to Kenya’s democracy? We also need to evaluate if there is any benefit activists in emerging democracies like Kenya can draw from what is turning out to be uniquely Mwangism.

The other evident problem with Boniface Mwangi is his raw pettiness. As an activist who comments on topical political issues, one imagines he has internalised the political system to be able to guide his minions.

Ordinarily, you do not hold an opposition outfit in the same level of responsibility with the government not unless you are an unschooled layabout.

In Kenya, it has become fashionable for wannabe activists and journalists bankrolled by the regime to ask: What is the opposition doing? Don’t just blame the government, offer solutions? Why are you always opposing? Where is your budget? Where is the shadow cabinet?

Inherent in all these questions is sanctimonious silliness.

They disregard one fundamental thing: the mandate to rule. It is only the government that has the mandate to rule, including the authority to incur expenditure and, or debts!

Nobody gets elected to be in the opposition. Nobody gets a mantle to bandy around the opposition leadership. It’s almost a calling which is hard to force anyone into.

Currently, the most successful and consistent opposition figure in the country is Hon Raila. He has personally fought against many ills in the successive regimes that the regimes have carefully funded “moderates” like Boniface Mwangi to unwrite his achievements.

They have failed to internalise Raila’s gains in pushing the resistant leadership of Moi, Kibaki and Kenyatta into having very progressive constitution and laws in the country which this current wasteful  government is rolling back.

I have offered before that the very governance structure and character of the nation that emerged from the last constitutional referendum makes nonsense of either an alternative cabinet or alternative budget. This is because budget making is itself a bipartisan affair, emanating from the executive, passing through parliament, then back to the executive. The budget committee in parliament is composed of some 50 MPs both from government and the ‘opposition’. Its recommendations come back to the whole parliament, where, any reservation is put to a vote. And there is tyranny which the likes of Boniface Mwangi never mentions.

Budget making process itself rids any dissenting voice, for all items are lumped together and voted together, so that if you disagree with one item, you have to vote for for it while voting for the one thousand other items you agree with.

This budget making process is anchored in law. The 2010 constitution never envisaged an ‘alternative budget’ nor created mechanism of coming up with such a crucial document, or even how to deliver it to parliament.

I often ask myself: This “alternative budget” Mwangi and his band of activipreneurs wants CORD to come up with; where will it be read? At Orange House? In a media breakfast meeting at Serena Hotel? At Uhuru Park? Will Mwangi’s grandfathers and johny-come-late freedom fighters not endeavour to urinate and break calabashes on the location of such an event while facing Mount Kenya?

Assuming that Mwangism is a viable option, can they offer examples of modern day democracies where the opposition read the “alternative budget” and the means by which the society contributes to the same?

The power and functional arrangement of Kenya’s new ‘democracy’ takes after the US model. Have they hard Republicans -current ‘opposition’ party in US -present  an alternative ‘Republican budget’?

Just as the new constitution did not envisage an alternative budget, it did not also envisage an ‘alternative cabinet’. This alternative cabinet, I always wonder, what form was it to take? Hired comrades?

In the old order, the alternative cabinet was a ‘mock cabinet’ having their members in the exact fashion of the government side. In this new regime, the very arrangement of the cabinet makes it so amorphous you can’t even ‘mock it’.

For instance, CORD cannot have a ministry of ‘devolution’ because we believe the kind of devolution anchored in law cannot sit in a cabinet in Nairobi but in 47 cabinets across the country.

On what solutions is the opposition offering? We’ve always maintained that CORD is not a consultancy. Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o often captures it farly: CORD is not Jubilee’s mother.

Political parties are in the business of contesting for power and running the country according to their manifestos. Jubilee ‘won’ the last election on the strength of their manifesto. We believe it is this manifesto they are disastrously implementing. We can only caution them -as we’ve been doing – but to offer them our manifesto?

In the end, if activists do not understand how political societies evolve after civil strifes or constitutional changes, their ignorance shouldn’t be the yardstick of national discourses or political conversations.

Written by Kahawa Tungu


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