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Putting the Westgate siege in context

The Somali militant group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the September 21 attack at an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi in which dozens of people were killed. Progressives must intensify their opposition to extremists who manipulate Islam, but also reject the imperial forces inside Africa and their allies

As peace loving beings in all parts of the world absorb the enormity of the terrible attack on innocent civilians in Kenya leading to the deaths of over 70 persons, it is important to start out by condemning in no uncertain terms the cowardly nature of this attack by the extremists who claimed responsibility in the name of Al Shabaab. This attack on innocent civilians at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya had nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the debasement of human beings in Africa and the need for a clear political project to expose and isolate the extremists. One of the many realities of this form of violence and low intensity warfare is the ways in which global competition for African resources have served to manipulate gullible elements within and outside of Africa. While the media has sensationalized this attack, it is worth reflecting on some of the underlying contradictions inside the region of Eastern Africa and how these contradictions are being played out inside of Kenya and the region. For many entrepreneurs in the strategic industries that profit from militarism, the events in Nairobi are a god send in so far as it vindicates the argument that Africa is a hotbed of terrorism and it is not possible to wind down the Global War on Terror. For the planners who are strategizing for the rich oil and gas resources of the East African coast, this episode of the siege of the Mall in Kenya provides another opportunity to deepen the divisions within Eastern Africa and pump out more stories and images of ‘failed states.’ For the discredited leaders of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, this episode provides an opportunity to grand stand in support of the Kenyan political leadership against the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations on 24 September, Museveni said, ‘The ICC, in a shallow, biased way, has continued to mishandle complex African issues. This is not acceptable. The ICC should stop.’

That Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda serving for 27 years, has now stood before the 68th session of General Assembly of the United Nations as a champion of Pan Africanism and African independence is most ironic in so far as the army of Museveni has been the most servile in the interests of US forces in Eastern Africa. These distortions call for clarity in the ranks of the peace and justice forces internationally and for sharper analysis and actions within the global Pan African Movement.

Kenya is an important base for the consolidation of the unification of the peoples of Africa and the recent experiences of warfare, famine, alienation and militarism point to the urgency for coordination for peace from the peoples of Africa. The massive discovery of oil and natural gas off the East African Coast from Djibouti down to Mozambique has the possibility of changing the geo-political map of the world as all and sundry now see the future of the world economy as centered in the Indian Ocean as opposed to the Atlantic Ocean. The genius and creativity of the youths of Eastern Africa can be mobilized by the progressive Pan African forces if there is slow and careful planning for the Pan African project of removing the artificial boundaries that were established at the Conference of Berlin in 1884. In our contribution this week we assert our opposition to the extremists who are manipulating Islam in the name of violence. At the same time we are opposing the imperial forces in Africa and their allies in the Gulf who are opposed to the dignity and peaceful existence of African peoples. The veteran Pan African writer Prof. Kofi Awoonor, 78, was a one of those who lost his earthly life in this senseless attack by individuals who are as anti-African as they are anti-human. Awoonor had served in the literary ranks of the Pan African movement with distinction in areas of importance for the Global Pan African family, Brazil, USA, UK and Africa. He had been in Nairobi to commune with other literary Pan Africanists in the Storymoja Hay Festival.

Kenya is the base of a vibrant populace whose creativity in literature has produced some of the leading Pan African writers and activists such as Micere Githae Mugo and Ngugi Wa Thiongo. Kenya also gave to the world the spirit of Wangari Mathaai. It is from the same Kenya where we are in the midst of new platforms for finance and technology that has democratized banking and changed the political economy of Kenya and East Africa. The challenge for the progressive wing of the global Pan African movement is to mobilize energies in the midst of this tragedy to speed the processes of political transformation and unification in Africa.


When tragedies such as the killings and hostage taking in the Westgate Mall occurs, there are immediate calls from within the movement for the right kind of literature and analysis that can make sense of the nonsense that comes from the western media. As the images were being played out in the media in print and television, I remembered the many meetings that were held by Fahamu staff and this writer at this Mall. The office of Fahamu (parent organization for Pambazuka) is just next door to this mall. This is just one of the messages that I received from comrades in Kenya,

‘Hi Prof,
Many days? 'Ope you've been keepin' well. Trust me, I'm safe and sound. Do you remember the last time I was with you, we sat at Art Cafe at Westgate? Just thought of all the times I've been at the shopping mall and I recalled meeting you there, last year.’

This was a journalist from a prominent Daily in Nairobi who has kept in touch over the past six years. One of our students from our Pan African Master’s Program in Syracuse wrote to ask, what should I be reading? I referred him to the writings of Abdi Samatar and alerted him to the fact that I had been in the middle of reading the book by James Fergusson, ‘The World's Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia.’ This book written by an English journalist is presented in the mode of psychological warfare from the British point of view. It represents the disinformation from the British journalistic world to reinforce the arguments about failed states in Africa. From the contents of the book, especially the sections on Al Shabaab, one can see that the writer had access to British intelligence sources on the different factions in the differing regions of Somalia; Somaliland, Puntland and the areas of central Somalia around Mogadishu.

The other noteworthy book to have come out recently by a British writer is that by Mary Harper, ‘Getting Somalia Wrong.: Faith and War in a Shattered State.’ Although less strident in its vilification of Africans and praise for western humanitarianism, this book again carries the underlying analysis of Somalia as a ‘failed state.’ These writers are part of the network of experts and journalists who are then fed into the counter-terrorism networks for consultancy and news that forms the background for the reports to the Security Council of the United Nations. What was significant about the book by Mary Harper was that in its discussion of the numerous resources in Somalia: livestock, cattle, camels, charcoal, khat, etc there is no mention of the massive oil resources that lie off the coast of Somalia and East Africa. Instead the topics of piracy and terrorism grace the pages without clarity on the interconnections between the so called pirates and the international insurance companies. In an effort to control the narrative on Somalia and Africa we are bombarded with details of the ‘tribal’ and clan factions in Somalia. African anthropologists and social scientists who have written extensively on the politicization and militarization of the clan structures in Somalia are not usually cited in the reviews and commentaries about the rise of violent extremism in Somalia. There are a few Kenyan researchers who have been writing and commenting on the conflagration but their output has come in the form of consultancy reports. One of the better studies from the pan African point of view was that by Afyare Abdi Elmi, entitled ‘Understanding the Somalia Conflagration: Identity, Political Islam and Peace-building’ on the decomposition of the Somalia state and the responsibility of progressive Somalians and Africans to rise above political Islam

Abdi Samatar has been consistently working and writing to articulate a Pan African analysis of the conflagration in Somalia and from time to time the Public Broadcasting stations in North America call on him for commentaries but the resources for labeling Somalia as a hotbed of terror ensure that progressives in the Pan African intellectual circuits do not have access to the big research budgets. I remember vividly the differences between Professor Abdi Samatar and Jendayi Frazier (then Assistant Secretary of State for Africa) over how the world should view the response of the peoples of East Africa to the Ethiopian invasion and incursions into Somalia. The Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union, a coalition of a dozen groups, had created the basis for a peaceful life and had isolated the military entrepreneurs who the West called warlords. We now know that the violence and destruction of the past seven years could have been avoided if the arguments of Samatar and other peace activists in and outside Somalia had been heeded. The Ethiopians and the Bush Administration could not tolerate peace breaking out in Somalia because instability in Somalia and Eastern Africa served the geo-strategic interests of war planners in Washington. Along with its allies in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Yemen the networks for violent extremism were tolerated while the United States rolled out the Africa Command to fight terrorism in Africa. That fight against terror has now been complicated by the intense competition between the differing states of Europe over the future oil and gas mining in Somalia.


In the past two years the news from Somalia has been dominated by the information that there could be as much as 110 billion barrels of oil and gas off the shores of Somalia. There is also likely to be vast natural gas reserves in Somali waters in the Indian Ocean. Fields containing an estimated 100 trillion cubic feet of gas have been found off Mozambique and Tanzania. British politicians and British oil companies have been the most active in seeking to corner the future exploration of this oil and it is not by accident that the most recent conferences on the future of Somalia has been held in London and hosted by David Cameron, the Prime Minister and head of the Conservative Party of Britain. One of the first companies to have signed a contract with the Government of Somalia is the front for British petroleum interests that is now registered as Soma Oil & Gas Exploration Ltd. This company was recently founded in the United Kingdom and its chairman is Michael Howard, a former leader of the Conservative Party. We are also informed that CEO Robert Sheppard has experience an adviser for the UK oil company BP PLC (LON: BP) in Russia.
Very soon after the long transition and the more than fifteen meetings to organize a sensible form of governance in Somalia, the British moved in to muscle out an African as the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Somalia. Nicholas Kay has emerged as the SRSG for Somalia at a moment when Britain is seeking to dominate the institutions and organizations that will have control over the decision making processes for the oil and gas exploration in Somalia. From the moment of the decomposition of the Somalia government and the manipulation of the military entrepreneurs by western forces, Britain had been cooling its heels working with the political elements in that section of Somalia that had been colonized by Britain after the Berlin Conference. During the colonial era Britain had used this region to provide meat for its troops in the Gulf and British Somaliland was governed from India.
British oil companies for decades had knowledge of the massive oil reserves off the coast of Somalia and the British teased the ‘leaders’ of Somaliland with the gesture that they would recognize this secessionist region as a breakaway state. Pan Africanists will remember that at the Berlin Conference in 1885 the peoples of Somalia were divided into five areas (French Somaliland, -now called Djibouti, British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, the Ethiopian areas of Somalia –in the Ogaden and the Somalia peoples who were located in what came to be known as Kenya), There are up to 300,000 citizens of Somali extraction in Europe and while the racism of Britain alienate the more than 100,000 Somali youth, Britain is opportunist and when Mo Farah won the gold medal for the 10000m at the London 2012 Olympics, the British press forgot the jingoism that alienated and confused many youth of Somali extraction who yearned for some purpose in their lives.

British newspapers and politicians had showered praises on the breakaway region telling them that this was a region of peace in a haven of violent Somalia. However, the British always had their eyes on the massive oil resources. Some foreign companies signed deals with the breakaway governments of Puntland and Somaliland but these entities were never recognized by the African Union.
For about ten years the British were waiting in Somaliland until they knew that the Ugandans cleaned up the situation and many Africans died. They were quite willing for Africans (Ugandans and Burundians) to die in the AMISOM operation while the western P3 members of the Security Council quibbled over how much money the UN should spend on the peacekeeping force in Somalia. Nicholas Kay, the new SSRG has traveled to the General Assembly this week to lobby for more resources for AMISOM, presumably because it will be important to guard the British nationals who will be flocking to Mogadishu. Kay is by no means a small player in the British political establishment. Before he was deployed to Mogadishu as the SSRG he had been the Africa Director at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Prior to this position at the FCO, he served as Ambassador to the Republic of the Democratic of the Congo and the Sudan from 2007 to 2010 and 2010 to 2012, respectively. He was also the United Kingdom’s Regional Coordinator for Southern Afghanistan and Head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Helmand Province from 2006 to 2007. In short, he has the experience of serving British interests in war zones. There are numerous other British elements in the interstices of the United Nations system working to ensure the ascendancy of British interests.


The US form of warfare in Somalia had followed the new template of drones, local militia forces, private military contractors and third party countries. In the war in Libya, this form of warfare had been used with the army of Qatar acting as the Third party country. In Somalia; Uganda had been the country most willing to serve imperial interests after the Ethiopians had invaded to oust the Union of Islamic Courts. The historic differences between Somalia and Ethiopia ensured that Ethiopia could not be a real force for peace, especially in the very undemocratic and repressive conditions inside Ethiopia. Ugandans deployed more than 6000 fighters to Mogadishu and hundreds lost their lives. The Ugandans and Burundians formed the bulk of the African Union Peace Keeping forces (AMISOM) that drove Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu.

The reports from the families in Uganda were that hundreds, if not thousands of Ugandans lost their lives in the forms of battle that raged from street to street and alley to alley in Somalia. Reports of the fighting were that it was similar to the kind of warfare of 1914-1918. While this fighting was going on, the western countries were opposed to financing the AMISOM mission and were quite willing and ready to have Africans die in the streets of Mogadishu as it turns out now to serve the interests of western oil companies.

If Museveni was a front for the US military in Somalia, by the time the body bags were being flown back to Kampala, Museveni had his own interest in ensuring that the violent extremists in Somalia were decapitated. Museveni worked closely with Augustine Mahiga who had moved from the safety of Nairobi when he took up the position of SRSG in 2010. Both Mahiga and Museveni had worked closely with Nyerere and both had been on the periphery of the Dar es Salaam school in the era of Walter Rodney, Issa Shivji and the period when all operatives in Tanzania identified with the African liberation project. When Britain wanted to get the position of SRSG, the campaign of disinformation intensified about the diplomatic and military capabilities of their African allies such as Mahiga and Museveni.

After the Ugandans died in the hundreds, the Western military lobby moved against Augustine Mahiga the Special Representative of the Secretary General. Mahiga is a Tanzanian and he worked hard from Mogadishu while the European members of the UN team spent their time in Nairobi. There had been a struggle between Germany, Norway, Britain and South Africa to get this SRSG post that can be like the neo-colonial governor in Mogadishu. Kay won out using the British special relationship with the USA to succeed.

The Norwegians wanted the position of SRSG and promised US $30 million in aid to the new Somalia government, but the British muscled out the Norwegians. The secessionist state of Somaliland had signed a production sharing agreement with DNO, a Norwegian oil and gas company, but British interests were working hard against Norway. Enter David Cameron who became the champion for the convening of conferences to reconstruct Somalia. This very same Cameron who had been attacking Somali nationals in Britain as the forces that ensured that multiculturalism does not work was the same who dispatched William Hague to Mogadishu in n 2012. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Edrogan had been the first leader of a foreign government to visit Mogadishu in 2011 and Britain wanted to be counted as a state that supported the people of Somalia. More recently September 2013, there had been the convening of a special EU New Deal for peace meeting in Brussels. The European Union pledged 650 million euros to help Somalia's peace and rebuilding process but after one read the fine print one could see that most of what was said amounted to pledges. The British Department for International Development (DFID) rolled out and published its own commitments made in the meeting but when the sums were added it did not come to the US $30 million that had been pledged by Norway and rejected by the Government of Somalia in favor of the British promises.


The heavy fighting to remove Al Shabaab from Mogadishu had been undertaken by Ugandans and Burundians but in September/October 2011, the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) invaded Somalia under the banner of Linda Nchi (Kiswahili for defend the Nation). At the time of the Kenyan incursion in 2011, I had written in Pambazuka that the intended remilitarization of Africa will fail. I had written,

‘The government of Kenya has declared that it will end its military campaign against Al-Shabaab in Somalia when it is satisfied it has stripped the group of its capacity to attack across the border. If one goes by the experience of the past 18 years, then this statement can be read that Kenya will be in for a long-term deployment to Somalia. The corollary to this is the reality that Kenya and its cities will be spaces of war, security clampdown and general destabilisation of the population. Since the Kenyan foray, there have been two grenade attacks at a bar and a bus terminal that killed one person and wounded more than 20 people in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. These attacks have already affected the tourism industry, one of the most important sources of revenue for the government of Kenya.’

From the books mentioned above, we have read that the Kenyan incursion into Somalia had been planned long in advance by the KDF and that the Kenyans were looking for the most opportune time to justify the incursion into Somalia. The international media blitz about famine, refugees and Al Shabaab in 2011 provided the right background for the Kenyan people to support the KDF into Somalia. Kenyans had been lukewarm towards the military after the security forces had failed to protect innocent civilians after the violence of 2008.

The political leaders of Kenya had been working with French companies to map out the future of the recovery of oil resources in Kenya on land and offshore. There had been disputes between Kenya and the Federal Transition Government of Somalia over the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Kenya and Somalia. Both countries had produced competing maps to lay claim to the EEZ off the coast of Southern Somalia. The Kenyan forces had collaborated with a questionable military entrepreneur of the Ras Kamboni group and the Ugandans were not happy that Kenya had intervened in Somalia after hundreds of Ugandans had already lost their lives.


There is now a growing contradiction between Britain and Kenya over the future of Somalia. In the past one hundred years, Kenya had been the base for British imperial operations in East Africa. From Nairobi, British capitalism had sought to dominate the East African region and Britain had encouraged Kenyan capitalists to break up the East African community in the seventies. British exploitation of the resources of Kenya was originally concentrated on agriculture with the production of tea, coffee, flowers and other products high on the list. In the era of energy, consumer products, telecommunications and security, British companies did profitable business in Kenya while the academic institutions of Britain and the USA churned out data on the tribal differences in Kenya.

After the contested elections in 2007, the Kenyan political leadership had gestured economically to China while firmly linked ideologically to western capitalism. Britain was most concerned about this gesture of the Kenyan leadership towards China crowned by the successful visit f Mwai Kibaki to China in 2010. Bilateral trade volume between Kenya and China has increased significantly in recent years, with China becoming Kenya's major trading partner. In 2012, imports from China were $1.92 billion, imports from the United States $776 million, and from the United Kingdom $575 million. When the Kenyans rolled out plans for the Lamu port and the corridor to link the coast to South Sudan and Ethiopia, western capitalist companies could not compete in the bidding and so Britain decided to switch and plan to control Somalia.
The impressive Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project involves the development of a new transport corridor from the new port of Lamu through Garissa, Isiolo, Mararal, Lodwar and Lokichoggio to branch at Isiolo to Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. This will comprise of a new road network, a railway line, oil refinery at Lamu, oil pipeline, Isiolo and Lamu Airports and a free port at Lamu (Manda Bay) in addition to resort cities at the coast and in Isiolo. It will be the backbone for opening up Northern Kenya and integrating it into the national economy. Despite this impressive planning for LAPSSET, the shortsightedness of the Kenyans about the future Pan African Unification meant that the planning for this project fell under the banner of the dubious Kenya 2030 project. For Pan Africanists by 2030 Africa will already be united with one currency, one army and a more democratized polity.

Britain had been the number one trading partner of Kenya right up to 2008.
France waited quietly and patiently while the relationship between Kenya and Britain deteriorated and the French oil company Total prepared itself to be the major partner of the Kenyan financial and real estate barons. France has methodically maneuvered to become a force in the English speaking enclaves of Eastern Africa.


For the preservation of the investment in militarism in Africa, Somalia had been the most important talking point for the strategic planners in Washington. With the awareness that the presence of US troops had fuelled a massive anti-imperialist consciousness inside Somalia, the US maintained a very low profile with in Somalia working with drone warfare and private contractors. In the book by James Fergusson on Somalia we have the most detailed information of Bancroft International as a CIA front in Mogadishu and Nairobi. Western intelligence agencies cannot deny knowledge of the various networks of violent extremists because it is from this very same network that the West is now recruiting Jihadists for its war in Syria.

From the annexes of the Reports of the Secretary General of the United Nations to the Security Council we have the names of the ten or so prominent private contractors that are involved in the war against Africa in the differing parts of Somalia. According to the press, all of these private military contractors dream of being as successful as Bancroft International. According to the UN Report of June 2013,

‘In Kismaayo, the United States-based Atlantean Worldwide represented itself to the Monitoring Group as a “life support” company. Meanwhile, it is marketing its presence in Somalia to oil and gas companies with the image of a risk management company, as well as portraying itself to several Nairobi-based diplomats as the “Bancroft of Kismaayo”.’

It is from Kismayo where Kenya is seeking to create a buffer state called Jubaland, dividing Somalia even further so that the Kenyan bourgeoisie can control the oil of the coast of Kismayo.


We now know from the information provided by Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the USA has a massive information gathering apparatus all around the world. Hence, it would be incredible to believe that the US does not have the information about the foundations and organizations in the Gulf that finance the violent extremists that are labelled as Al Shabaab. The spoilers for the Kenyan bourgeoisie in their manipulation of the war on terror are the conservative fronts from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. They finance the religious extremists in Somalia who have links to the militarists. These spoilers finance extremists all over East Africa. It is here important that these extremists act in the name of Islam but their activities have been most unislamic. As Samir Amin rightly observed, ‘The Islam proposed by political Islam in all its diverse organizations (‘extremist’ or even ‘terrorist’ and so-called ‘moderate’) is definitely an obscurantist Islam, unable to help understand the nature of contemporary world challenges. It is a version of Islam at the service of primitive and brutal forms of exploitation of the weak (‘the people’) by the ‘strong’ (the ruling cliques who exploit the return to religion). And these ‘strong’ are nothing but transmission belts for the country’s integration into the global system dominated by the monopolies of the Triad (USA, Europe, Japan). The Somalian ‘small market’ provides no means of resistance to this domination, and the leaders of Islamic movements may not even be aware of this.’

Somalia must be kept unstable in preparation for the coming war in the region. Africa must be Africa must be destabilized so that imperialism and their allies can use African resources in the coming wars.


The intellectual and ideological war over the future of Africa is now intense and it is important that Somalians at home and abroad along with their allies in the overseas Somali community as well as in the wider Pan African community get more information on how this attack on the Mall fits into the overall imperial strategy. Whatever the outcome of this Mall event, it will be used to strengthen repression and to isolate progressive forces. Progressive forces internationally must intensify our opposition to religious extremism and at the same time expose how the Global War on Terror fuels actions such as the one that took place at the Mall.

Kenya is in a very difficult situation because the Kenyan leadership will want to gesture in an anti-imperialist direction over the International Criminal Court. They also want to be anti-imperialist so that the financial forces that control banking and telecommunications can branch out into the energy sector and control the oil in Somalia.


Progressives in Africa cannot fall for the pseudo anti-imperialism of Uhuru Kenyatta that is now being voiced by Museveni. This anti-imperialism is so layered that it will require a high level of sophistication to grasp the subtexts of game playing that is going on with the Kenyan leadership. At the time of the 50th anniversary of the struggles for the unification of Africa the discussions were hijacked by Kenya who called for the African Union to boycott the ICC in solidarity with the leadership of Kenya. After the meeting in May, that same leadership went on a diplomatic offensive to call on African people to oppose the ICC. Yoweri Museveni was the front person for this task and his presentation before the General Assembly this week was part of the alliance between the Ugandan leadership and the Kenyan leadership. Museveni had been one of the first leaders in Africa to refer a case to the ICC when he cooperated with the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army to the ICC.

Kenya had mounted a diplomatic offensive using Museveni as a front calling on the African Union to hold a special summit on the question of the trial of the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto before the ICC. The Kenyan information platforms had argued that, ‘the trial of Kenya’s top two executives will undermine their ability to govern the country; that a lot of work has already been done to resettle the people displaced by the post-election violence in 2008; that the trial will reopen old wounds; that Kenya has a new Constitution that can be used to create local courts to try the cases; and that the AU request to have the case moved to Kenya has been ignored by the ICC.’

From the East African newspaper of the region, one can see that there are many different levels to the manipulation. When William Ruto, the Vice President of Kenya was slated to travel to The Hague to stand trial, both Uganda and Rwanda asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop Deputy President William Ruto from flying to The Hague as his trial on charges of crimes against humanity kicked off.

According to the same newspaper, ‘the request was tabled when President Kenyatta met Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo in Nairobi on September 8, two days before Mr Ruto flew out to the International Criminal Court.’ The East African has learnt that President Kenyatta insisted on his deputy attending court, arguing that failure to appear before the ICC could trigger a warrant of arrest and ‘the argument of whether they are innocent would be lost.’

Future revelations will inform the people of Kenya if this is another layer of the financial and political struggles inside Kenya where some sections may be willing to sacrifice William Ruto.

There is genuine opposition within Africa to the selectivity of the ICC but the progressive forces within Africa may oppose the ICC but they cannot support the impunity that is embedded in the campaign of Yoweri Museveni. In the post-election violence of January 2008 there were over 1300 Kenyans who died violently and more than half a million have been displaced. Up to the present time of writing September 2013, five years after the carnage no one has been held accountable for the deaths of these Kenyans. Just as how Uhuru Kenyatta has appeared on the world stage calling for the prosecution of those who carried out the Westgate Mall attack, so it is necessary for Kenyans for find the right basis for holding accountable those who orchestrated the post-election violence.


Since 1992 Somalia has been destabilized by imperial forces. Imperialism has attempted to solve the political problems of Somalia by military means. Millions of people in Somalia have been traumatized by this 21 years of perpetual warfare. Millions more have been displaced and thrown around the world as refugees. This effort to militarize Somalia drew in the entire region as the militarization of ethnicity emboldened military entrepreneurs who understood the business of warfare. The peoples of Somalia are now spread over the length and breadth of Eastern and southern Africa. What affects Somalia will affect all of Africa. The political solution to the questions of destabilization cannot be resolved outside a process of demilitarization, reconstruction and unity. The new oil resources have provided the basis for a new round of militarism as the British have switched sides in East Africa. The siege of the Mall and the killing demand a higher level of understanding than to shout about terrorists. There must be a sober inquiry into the nature of the forces that carried out this terrible attack.

Kenyans and the peoples of East Africa have been suffering from economic terrorism for decades. It is in Kenya where there are some of the most sophisticated political forces. Imperial Britain, the USA understands this and since the period of the Land and Freedom Army has worked to divide the people of Kenya. Tribe was the preferred tool but in the era of extreme fundamentalism, religion is now the tool to divide and dominate. These extremists all thrive on the oppression of women.

The political leaders of Kenya and Uganda want to divert the reconstruction project of Africa by calling a special session to defend Uhuru Kenyatta. Progressive Pan Africanists cannot support this special session that is called and being masterminded by Yoweri Museveni. There must be special courts in Kenya and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the wounds of the political killings that took place in 2008.

Kenyan researchers and progressive intellectuals must go beyond the media to work against impunity.

Somalia will have to be integrated into a people centered Eastern Africa. There is too much at stake.

The covert struggles between Britain and Kenya over the oil has to be uncovered while progressives find a way to undercut the Museveni call for a special session of the African Union. Kofi Awoonor, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem and Philippe Wamba were outstanding Pan Africanists who departed this life in Kenya. They have joined the hundreds of thousands whose lives watered the seeds for freedom and unity. We cannot disappoint them. As Tajudeen would say, ‘Don’t Agonize, Organize!’

* Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University. Campbell is also the Special Invited Professor of International Relations at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity, Monthly Review Press, New York 2013



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