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Letter from the president: Failed diplomatic Safari

Kenya Violence 01.08

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 Source: Daily Dispatch

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, it’s amazing how we in Africa can easily extract utter chaos from tranquility and order. It seems to be one of the things we do best. Look at Kenya. One day it’s beautiful and calm – everyone is happy. The next day all hell has broken lose; people are being killed (some burnt en masse in a church) and everyone is running helter-skelter.

The events in Kenya really sadden my heart. I’m even more saddened because the government of that country has shown clearly that it has no respect for an excellent man like my good self, who also happens to be the all-important, internationally-recognised chairman of the UA – our continental club of underperforming presidents. It’s amazing how citizens of Sikaman adore me – just for being chairman of this club – and it’s sickening how the Kenyans, especially, their Kibaki president, just don’t care.

It’s New Year’s Day. I’m supposed to be relaxing with my grandchildren and exchanging pleasantries with anyone who cared to stop by at my house to say ‘Happy New Year’. Suddenly, I’m getting calls from all over. There is chaos up north in my country. Huts are being burnt, people are being killed. This is yet another outbreak of fighting between two prominent ethnic groups, which have been at each other’s throats for decades. Reports indicate that they are not just using home-made pistols and bows and arrows like they’ve done in the past, but the fighters are wielding sophisticated weapons – the type usually reserved for national armies. This is serious. “What can I do,” I asked myself. After pondering over the issue for a while I decided to call a few underlings, ordering them to bring the situation under control. Their first response was to advise me to impose a dusk to dawn curfew on the areas where the conflict had broken out. “That should work,” I told myself. I know it was yet another patchwork, but at least I did something, didn’t I?

Just when I thought I had settled the problem up north I saw Kenyan soldiers shooting live ammunition into crowds of protesters on the streets of Nairobi. This was live on the international TV networks. I was sickened, to say the least. The previous day I heard the news about how the opposition in Kenya was complaining about rigged elections and all. And the elections were rigged. No one can convince me otherwise. Just look at the speed with which the ‘re-elected’ president was sworn-in. If his bedroom manouvres were that fast, his wife would have left him on the night of their honeymoon. I didn’t ever imagine that the Kenyan situation could degenerate into so much chaos so quickly. Being a proud African, I wanted to help. “What can I do,” I asked myself. It didn’t take me long to come to a decision. I knew I had to go to Kenya. They have very nice tourist attractions there and I knew I would have a lot of fun going in there for a diplomatic ‘safari’ to try my best to get the government and the opposition to come to some sort of compromise.

Being the chairman of the continental club of underperforming presidents, I thought there was no need for me to call anyone in Kenya to, at least, tell them that I wanted to come over. So I started making my travel arrangements and asked my people to announce to the whole world that I was going to Kenya to help them sort out their mess – even though my hosts didn’t know I was visiting.

Imagine my shock, when Kibaki called to tell me that he doesn’t want me in his country. “What?” I exclaimed. I thought we are all Africans and the idea is for us to solve our own problems. I was really sad.

Meanwhile, I was still being confronted with the conflict up north and there were suggestions that I should go there and have a little conversation with the warring factions. I thought about these suggestions for a while and decided that Bawku is best left to the underlings. After all, CNN and BBC won’t be there. Africa needed my services and this was the time for me to show the world that my diplomatic skills. I’m going to retire soon, remember? Such diplomatic efforts might earn me a retirement job, you know. I was very anxious and so I kept calling the Kenyans to let me in. But they wouldn’t budge. Then a miracle happened. Brother Gordon called me from Ngyiresi and asked me what I thought about Kenya. I told him in very sad tones that I had tried to go there but my offers to help had met with hostile rebuffs, as the Kenyans kept telling me without uttering any word that I should mind my own business. He was furious and he told me that he’d call me back in a few minutes. Lo and behold, when he got back on the line, he had good news. The Kenyans had agreed that I should come to Nairobi. Hurray! I was very happy. I called one of my guys in Bawku and asked him for an update. He said everything was going to be alright and I proceeded with my diplomatic safari to Kenya. On the day I was due to leave I heard one of Kibaki’s ministers say that I was going into the country for a “cup of tea”.

Well, I had more than a cup of tea in Kenya. Many say that my mission there failed. That’s not true and it’s not fair. Most of those who say I failed do not know my objectives for going there. Besides, their standards are too high – completely different from mine. Let me set the records straight. I went to Kenya to escape involvement in the Bawku issue. Whiles I was away, someone handled that quite well for all of us. That is success even though I know for sure that the conflict has not been fully resolved and there would be another outbreak sometime soon.

I also went to Kenya to show the international community that we in Africa can, at the very least, try to solve our problems. Whiles doing that I had my face on almost every major international TV network – projecting the image and good name of Sikaman. By my standards, that’s another success. We are going to get some investors as a result of that. I might also get a job after retirement.

Furthermore, I managed to meet with both the president and the main opposition leader. I was the first world leader to do so. That was history. But the most important benefit of these meetings lies in the fact that I provided a sounding board for them to talk about their issues as their supported waited with bated breaths for the outcome of the talks. You know what they say about the devil finding work for idle hands, don’t you. Can you imagine what those two men would have done within those times that I met separately with them? For all you know they might have been stirring passions needlessly, which could have led to the loss of precious lives. Wouldn’t you agree with me, therefore, that I saved lives just by being there? Don’t forget that when Mr. Odinga heard I was coming, he called off a protest rally. I know for sure that those crazy government soldiers would have been there to fire live ammunitions into the crowd if that rally had gone on.

So those who thought I went to Kenya to have the matter resolved once and for all were completely mistaken. They are those who claim that I “failed” because they set a very high standard for me. They can say whatever they want. As far as I’m concerned, all my objectives were achieved.

However, I think I could have achieved more if I had stayed home. I really wish I had chosen to go to Bawku instead. I know for sure that the factions there would have shown me some more respect than the Kenyans did. At the very least, they would have sat down at one table and talked things over with me. That would have been a great opportunity to bring that conflict closer to some sort of resolution, wouldn’t it? It’s not too late, though and I’m thinking that maybe (just maybe) I will find the courage and the sense to give it a try.

Excellently yours,
J. A. Fukuor
(fukuor@gmail.com)

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, it’s amazing how we in Africa can easily extract utter chaos from tranquility and order. It seems to be one of the things we do best. Look at Kenya. One day it’s beautiful and calm – everyone is happy. The next day all hell has broken lose; people are being killed (some burnt en masse in a church) and everyone is running helter-skelter.

The events in Kenya really sadden my heart. I’m even more saddened because the government of that country has shown clearly that it has no respect for an excellent man like my good self, who also happens to be the all-important, internationally-recognised chairman of the UA – our continental club of underperforming presidents. It’s amazing how citizens of Sikaman adore me – just for being chairman of this club – and it’s sickening how the Kenyans, especially, their Kibaki president, just don’t care.

It’s New Year’s Day. I’m supposed to be relaxing with my grandchildren and exchanging pleasantries with anyone who cared to stop by at my house to say ‘Happy New Year’. Suddenly, I’m getting calls from all over. There is chaos up north in my country. Huts are being burnt, people are being killed. This is yet another outbreak of fighting between two prominent ethnic groups, which have been at each other’s throats for decades. Reports indicate that they are not just using home-made pistols and bows and arrows like they’ve done in the past, but the fighters are wielding sophisticated weapons – the type usually reserved for national armies. This is serious. “What can I do,” I asked myself. After pondering over the issue for a while I decided to call a few underlings, ordering them to bring the situation under control. Their first response was to advise me to impose a dusk to dawn curfew on the areas where the conflict had broken out. “That should work,” I told myself. I know it was yet another patchwork, but at least I did something, didn’t I?

Just when I thought I had settled the problem up north I saw Kenyan soldiers shooting live ammunition into crowds of protesters on the streets of Nairobi. This was live on the international TV networks. I was sickened, to say the least. The previous day I heard the news about how the opposition in Kenya was complaining about rigged elections and all. And the elections were rigged. No one can convince me otherwise. Just look at the speed with which the ‘re-elected’ president was sworn-in. If his bedroom manouvres were that fast, his wife would have left him on the night of their honeymoon. I didn’t ever imagine that the Kenyan situation could degenerate into so much chaos so quickly. Being a proud African, I wanted to help. “What can I do,” I asked myself. It didn’t take me long to come to a decision. I knew I had to go to Kenya. They have very nice tourist attractions there and I knew I would have a lot of fun going in there for a diplomatic ‘safari’ to try my best to get the government and the opposition to come to some sort of compromise.

Being the chairman of the continental club of underperforming presidents, I thought there was no need for me to call anyone in Kenya to, at least, tell them that I wanted to come over. So I started making my travel arrangements and asked my people to announce to the whole world that I was going to Kenya to help them sort out their mess – even though my hosts didn’t know I was visiting.

Imagine my shock, when Kibaki called to tell me that he doesn’t want me in his country. “What?” I exclaimed. I thought we are all Africans and the idea is for us to solve our own problems. I was really sad.

Meanwhile, I was still being confronted with the conflict up north and there were suggestions that I should go there and have a little conversation with the warring factions. I thought about these suggestions for a while and decided that Bawku is best left to the underlings. After all, CNN and BBC won’t be there. Africa needed my services and this was the time for me to show the world that my diplomatic skills. I’m going to retire soon, remember? Such diplomatic efforts might earn me a retirement job, you know. I was very anxious and so I kept calling the Kenyans to let me in. But they wouldn’t budge. Then a miracle happened. Brother Gordon called me from Ngyiresi and asked me what I thought about Kenya. I told him in very sad tones that I had tried to go there but my offers to help had met with hostile rebuffs, as the Kenyans kept telling me without uttering any word that I should mind my own business. He was furious and he told me that he’d call me back in a few minutes. Lo and behold, when he got back on the line, he had good news. The Kenyans had agreed that I should come to Nairobi. Hurray! I was very happy. I called one of my guys in Bawku and asked him for an update. He said everything was going to be alright and I proceeded with my diplomatic safari to Kenya. On the day I was due to leave I heard one of Kibaki’s ministers say that I was going into the country for a “cup of tea”.

Well, I had more than a cup of tea in Kenya. Many say that my mission there failed. That’s not true and it’s not fair. Most of those who say I failed do not know my objectives for going there. Besides, their standards are too high – completely different from mine. Let me set the records straight. I went to Kenya to escape involvement in the Bawku issue. Whiles I was away, someone handled that quite well for all of us. That is success even though I know for sure that the conflict has not been fully resolved and there would be another outbreak sometime soon.

I also went to Kenya to show the international community that we in Africa can, at the very least, try to solve our problems. Whiles doing that I had my face on almost every major international TV network – projecting the image and good name of Sikaman. By my standards, that’s another success. We are going to get some investors as a result of that. I might also get a job after retirement.

Furthermore, I managed to meet with both the president and the main opposition leader. I was the first world leader to do so. That was history. But the most important benefit of these meetings lies in the fact that I provided a sounding board for them to talk about their issues as their supported waited with bated breaths for the outcome of the talks. You know what they say about the devil finding work for idle hands, don’t you. Can you imagine what those two men would have done within those times that I met separately with them? For all you know they might have been stirring passions needlessly, which could have led to the loss of precious lives. Wouldn’t you agree with me, therefore, that I saved lives just by being there? Don’t forget that when Mr. Odinga heard I was coming, he called off a protest rally. I know for sure that those crazy government soldiers would have been there to fire live ammunitions into the crowd if that rally had gone on.

So those who thought I went to Kenya to have the matter resolved once and for all were completely mistaken. They are those who claim that I “failed” because they set a very high standard for me. They can say whatever they want. As far as I’m concerned, all my objectives were achieved.

However, I think I could have achieved more if I had stayed home. I really wish I had chosen to go to Bawku instead. I know for sure that the factions there would have shown me some more respect than the Kenyans did. At the very least, they would have sat down at one table and talked things over with me. That would have been a great opportunity to bring that conflict closer to some sort of resolution, wouldn’t it? It’s not too late, though and I’m thinking that maybe (just maybe) I will find the courage and the sense to give it a try.

Excellently yours,
J. A. Fukuor
(fukuor@gmail.com)

Columnist: Daily Dispatch