Robert Mũnũku: My Letter to the President
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Robert Mũnũku, an ordinary Kenyan who humbly writes this letter in candor hoping that you will read and act on it. I write this to you – the incumbent President – and do so regardless of party affiliation and would do so to whoever occupied the office of the President of Kenya.
This is not a political letter but one regarding basic development that all Kenyans would benefit from. Of the myriad of problems we are sorting collectively as a nation, I want to address one in this letter (not to say that the others are lesser or unimportant) that of our Foreign Policy.Double blow for workers as Uhuru piles taxes on pay, hikes prices of goods. My Letter to the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta Click To Tweet
More specifically, with regard to labor and related economics. One would ask why I don’t write to the Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the answer is really simple; this issue that I now raise is one that will require radical multi-sectoral reforms of which I believe requisite directive & oversight can only come from the person at the top – you.
I will be concise and break down the problem then go ahead to offer what I think are solutions inviting other Kenyans (many of whom are more qualified than I am) to chime in towards a solution. Unlike many who often complain without offering alternatives, I hope this exercise will transition from theory to policy to change.Like most nations, Kenya has multilateral and bilateral arrangements and agreements with various nations whom we collectively call ‘allies’. Kenya's are not aware of the deepseated goals within these deals. Click To Tweet
The Current Situation (or Premises if you will)
- Most Kenyans are individuals within the youth bracket (18 – 35yrs). A good percentage of this same bracket are unemployed.
- Like most nations, Kenya has multilateral and bilateral arrangements and agreements with various nations whom we collectively call ‘allies’.
- Kenya has debt from many countries mainly those in Europe and America.
- Many foreign-owned companies and NGOs operating in Kenya have foreigners (expatriates) occupying senior positions (i.e. top management and above) with internal policies that prevent locals, regardless of qualification, from holding the same.Many foreign-owned companies and NGOs operating in Kenya have foreigners (expatriates) occupying senior positions (i.e. top management and above) with internal policies that prevent locals, regardless of qualification, from holding… Click To Tweet
- Many expatriates in (4) above actually work illegally and often hold only tourist visas instead of the required work permits.
- In (4) above a large percentage of the expatriates stay on the way after their contracts have expired using clever methods to circumvent immigration laws i.e. they marry locals to acquire citizenship, buy land, play hide and seek with immigration (or bribe their way around), etc.
- Of the countries in (3) above the United Kingdom (Britain) is the one that colonized Kenya. To put it bluntly, they developed their economy by plundering the resources of the African countries they colonized.
- No country in the world can say it is completely self-sufficient (even the so-called developed countries), at least not indefinitely, hence International Relations and the need to interact productively with other nations.
No country in the world can say it is completely self-sufficient (even the so-called developed countries), at least not indefinitely, hence International Relations and the need to interact productively with other nations. Click To Tweet
- All countries that Kenya has relationships with either have an Embassy or High Commission in our country with corresponding High Commissioners and Ambassadors.
- Kenyans who are unemployed are dependant on those in the job market for sustenance which means the higher the unemployment rate the higher the dependency ratio and the more likely an increase in insecurity.
- Mahathir Bin Mohamad (former Malaysian Prime Minister) managed to develop Malaysia (which was once at economic par with Kenya) without foreign aid.
- Many if not most of the expatriates described in (5) above earn superfluous salaries which more often than not does not find its way back to the local economy. Furthermore, such salaries suffer less tax than that of ordinary hard-working Kenyans (who earn way less).
- Most of the NGOs in (4) above offer no respite to what they claim to address i.e. poverty eradication, water & sanitation, ‘democracy’, etc. Instead of such actually, thrive on the same maladies because that’s the only way they keep getting funded. For e.g., if poverty ended so would an NGO dealing in poverty eradication.
A Brief History of the 4 Presidents in Kenya since independence from December 1963 to the current September 2018:
Kenya has got four presidents since she attained independence in December 1963 and as of September 2018.
Jomo ‘Kamau wa Muigai’ Kenyatta:
A politician who governed Kenya as its Prime Minister from 1963 to 1964 and then as its first President from 1964 to his death in 1978. Born as Kamau wa Muigai (Kamau son of Muigai) and later baptized to Johnstone Kamau wa Ngengi.
Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi:
A former Kenyan politician who served as the second President of Kenya from 1978 to 2002. Prior to becoming President, he served as the third Vice President of Kenya from 1967 to 1978.
The third President of Kenya, serving from December 2002 until April 2013. Kibaki was previously Vice-President of Kenya for ten years from 1978 to 1988 under President Daniel Arap Moi.
Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta:
Born on the 26 October 1961, he is a Kenyan businessman and as of 2013, the fourth and current president of the Republic of Kenya. Uhuru was born in 1961 which makes him 57 years old. His annual salary is: Ksh. 16,800,000 ($13,869.63 USD) which translates to Monthly salary of: Ksh. 1,400,000 ($ 166,435.50 USD). You can get a breakdown of this here: Top earners: President Uhuru and Deputy President Ruto salaries
Robert Mũnũku’s Proposition to the President and Responsible Cabinet:
Note: For this part, I don’t expect the President himself to personally implement the recommendations, that would be ridiculous, only an incorrigible nincompoop would complain to the President as if he is responsible for doing every single thing directly.
There are necessary mechanisms in the ministries and counties to do so once strategies are created:
- Make job creation a priority in your remaining 5 years. This should not be a conventional approach to employment. Call a meeting with all the 47 governors (solely about joblessness/unemployment) asking them for data on unemployed persons (i.e. the number of youth out of school, form 4 leavers, graduates, etc.) and the main economic activities in their counties (not all counties are the same). The governors then need to report back with strategies to absorb all the unemployed youth in their counties one way or the other in activities where they can earn an income. If we get loans to do other things we can even get one to create jobs if need be.
- Have a one on one meeting with the CS Foreign Affairs and talk about issues 4-7, 11-13 above.
- Have a meeting with the CS Finance to get a breakdown on how much Kenya gets in foreign aid and the corresponding projects this aid goes to. Get data on the national debt. Do scenarios on what it would mean in 5 years time for Kenya if current aid was halted (& alternatives). Do scenarios on what it would mean in 5 years time for Kenya if the current debt was ignored (this to be done with CS Foreign Affairs to gauge the impact on International Relations) and how we can generate the same revenue needed to drive the economy from the 47 counties.
- Have CS Finance and his/her team come up with a concrete plan to run Kenya for the next 10+ years without the aid.
- Form a competent team consisting of Sociologists, Economists, Forensic Auditors and whatever other profession is relevant, to work with the NGO Board (if need be) to re-audit all the major NGOs and Multinational Companies operating in Kenya. This not need be all but those whose monies have a significant impact on the economy. Interns and other administrative personnel would have prior prepared a roster of the same data. The audit will be on personal profiles (esp. senior staff e.g. Directors), finance, operations, projects, and so on.
- Get same data through the same process as above from all the embassies & high commissions but before you do have the CS meet bilaterally with the respective ambassadors and high commissioners. By the time she does so there will already be a clear new policy in place regarding the working of foreigners in Kenya and debt which I’ll explain below.
- As you meet CS Foreign affairs discuss the ramifications of refusing to pay debt especially to Britain given the reason I explained in 7 which is a no-brainer. If anything Britain should pay us for their colonial injustices.
- Discuss with the CS Foreign Affairs how best to beef up relationships with ‘developing countries’ both in Africa, Asia, and South America. Thereafter, (bearing in mind what you discuss with the CS Finance regarding a non-aid driven economy) have her draft on need-basis a strategic plan for engaging these countries. She will then have bilateral meetings with the ambassadors and high commissioners of these countries to co-create further a model where Kenya can have symbiotic relationships with them in the anticipation that the countries we refuse to pay the debt to rejoinder with sanctions.
- Have all expatriates working illegally deported (described in 5 above) or face the law regarding the matter.
- For multinational foreign corporations & NGOs have a policy legislated stating that:(a) all mid and top management personnel in these organizations should be Kenyan citizens(b) Foreign directors & organization heads can only serve one term and/or should be alternated with Kenyan citizens for the same position(c) Foreign companies and NGOs should pay more tax than local ones. If they don’t like it they can pack up and take their NGOs and companies back to their countries.
- Have bilaterals with all the high commissioners and ambassadors of the ‘developed/first world’ countries explaining your new resolutions. Do not compromise.
- During bilateral with ambassadors and high commissioners it should be made clear that any goodwill Kenya extends to foreigners must be reciprocated, i.e. visa fees should be lowered (if not waived) and commensurate with what foreigners pay to come, have exchange programmes that benefit both Kenyans and the citizens from these foreign countries, etc.
- Have a meeting with technocrats (see 11 above for Mahathir analogy) if need be and get advice on how to run an economy without depending on foreign aid – get Kenya’s finest economists on board.
- Create a law (via parliament lobbying) in which non-citizens can not buy land in Kenya. How can foreigners own land in our country while millions of Kenyans live as squatters? Kenyan land is for Kenyan citizens! They can, however, have leases where they are producing goods/services on that land actively contributing to the economy. Pass similar motions regulating the ownership of property by foreigners.
- Shut all NGOs/Foreign Companies falling in the description described in (13) and prosecute/deport those who have committed any felonies.
- Beef up technology transfer and skills transfer i.e. if we commission foreigners (which we shouldn’t eventually) to build infrastructure at the very least a return from them should be technological transfer.
I can go on an on (i.e. nationalizing key institutions like health and transport, creating a functional 24-hour economy, etc.). But this is a start, please do something about it.
Leave a legacy as you leave.
From a concerned Kenyan, an ordinary mwananchi:
Role of Religion in Kenyan politics: Does Faith Matter when Governing in Africa?
The interaction between Religion and Politics in Kenya is very superficial. Religion plays an almost pivotal role in Kenya’s politics today. Christianity and Islam have influenced politicians and political campaigns. They can be argued to affect and dictate the outcome of elections in Kenya.
Places of worship like Churches, Mosques, and Temples have been used as campaigning spots. Perhaps this explains the reason why religion has been and should be involved in sorting current political crisis.
It shouldn’t really matter what religion a genuine leader subscribes to as long as s/he has selfless core values that consider the best interests of others. Kenya is said to be a religious country with unto 80% people believing in some form of religion.It shouldn’t really matter what religion a genuine leader subscribes to as long as s/he has selfless core values that consider the best interests of others. Click To Tweet
Religion in Exchange of Votes: Kenyan Politicians
Politicians have been known to do crazy and sometimes inhuman things just to get or maintain power. Kenyan non-muslim politicians were blasted for temporary converting into Islam from Christianity. They were said to use religion to seek attention and get votes.
Religious leaders have also been accused of sympathizing with politicians. This is either because of their influence, money or power. They would gladly give the front seat in a flash to a politician just because they hold a political position.
A while back, a fake video surfaced online claiming that the Kenyan president converted to Islam while in Bahrain. In a religiously charged country, this could mean so many things to different people.
A young Muslim boy called Omar Mohamed was filmed chanting his praise and support for Uhuru. After his video went viral, Uhuru Kenyatta invited him to State House. Omar appeared to be very confident, eloquent and smart. He told the president how much he loves him. Finally, he suggested that if the president of Kenya converts to Islam, it would be an amazing thing.Role of Religion in Kenyan politics: Does Faith Matter when Governing in Africa? Click To Tweet
Video of young boy, Omar Mohamed, asking the President of Kenya to Convert into Islam:
Religion has indeed played a vital role in Kenya and its politics. Mombasa, the town where Omar lives is one of the biggest cities in Kenya. It is also the main port that connects landlocked East African countries to the coast.
However, the living conditions are not at the standard of the city it is. There’s garbage despite it being a tourist destination among other issues. I wonder what if Omar Mohamed would have been invited to meet the president to State House if he requested for better Health Care or improved security…I wonder what if Omar Mohamed would have been invited to meet @UKenyatta at State House if he requested for better #HealthCare or #ImprovedSecurity… Click To Tweet
What would you do if you were the President of Kenya for 6 months?
We often complain but offer no alternatives; now, imagine you have all the state machinery & power of the presidency for 6 months – what would you do for Kenyans before your exit?We often complain but offer no alternatives; now, imagine you have all the state machinery & power of the presidency for 6 months – what would you do for Kenyans before your exit? Click To Tweet
- Polish then implement my draft foreign policy:
- I would nationalize healthcare. This of course like (1) above would have a concrete policy plan. Among other things, private hospitals will be forced to reduce their rates and pay a higher tax. We’ll (my cabinet) also seriously revamp personnel and services in public hospitals.
- Nationalize public transport. If we can borrow money to build roads we can do the same (if need be) to create a government-run public transport system. Think of ‘Nyayo Bus’ minus the corruption & subsequent collapse. This parallel system (as it would be with healthcare) will compete with private-public transport vendors like matatu and taxi services. I would also start a cheaper ‘uber’-type of service ran by the government.
- Declare unemployment a national disaster. Again, if need be, I would borrow money to have a policy created to put all unemployed Kenyans to work, county by county. Unlike a road, this can pay itself back through statutory deductions that those put to work will remit notwithstanding the fact that they are building the economy by working.
- Nationalize land. All land in the country will belong to the government (protected by the constitution). No single citizen can own land but be allowed to lease & produce on it. Likewise, no foreigners can own land but can be allowed to produce on it/use it for commercial services that can build the economy.
- Revamp then nationalize the education system (see the same principle in 2 above)
- Lobby for a referendum to review the IEBC and subsequently political positions. This will be in order to reduce the superfluous wage bill that goes into our currently over-represented country. Reduce MPs (<200), Senators and MCAs. Abolish the Women’s Rep role and instead lobby for the gender bill which will ensure QUALIFIED women are given a chance to hold office.
- Reform the police force.
- Reform the prisons system
- Revive regional integration and cooperation towards Pan-Africanism
A Rare Photo of all four Presidents of Kenya in one room:
From left: Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi (Even more mysterious is the fact that they are lined up in the order with which they took power, moving anti-clockwise from Jomo Kenyatta)A Rare Photo of all 4 Kenyan Presidents in one room: From left: Jomo, @UKenyatta, Kibaki & Moi (Even more mysterious is the fact that they are lined up in the order with which they took power, moving anti-clockwise from Jomo… Click To Tweet
About the writer: Robert Mũnũku
Robert Munuku (b. 1984) is an award-winning independent visual artist, writer & filmmaker from Nairobi, Kenya. Munuku began visual art at an early age of 5 years old, encouraged & supported by his parents, Frank Munuku (father) & Assumpta Pierra Munuku (mother).
Later in his early 20’s Munuku learned digital art and fused the techniques with his previous preferred media (wood, paints, pencils, ink, etc.). In his mid-twenties, he learned how to use DSLR cameras and began self-teaching photography & cinematography until he got his first camera years later.
Munuku is also the Founder of Mau Mau Arts (began in 2014) which is an organization that seeks to create a strong network of independent visual artists, filmmakers & performing artists on the continent with the shared goal of independence and art-driven, community-based creative education.Robert Munuku (b. 1984) is an award-winning independent visual artist, writer & filmmaker from Nairobi, Kenya. Click To Tweet
Named after one of the groups who fought for Kenya’s independence, Mau Mau Arts believes that art is a powerful tool that can address social issues plaguing the country, such as corruption and poverty amongst others. Through workshops, street exhibitions and exchange programs, Mau Mau will connect creative artists with one another, building a network that hopefully expands in years to come.
After a while, Munuku felt he needed to pursue his real passion (art, creative writing & film) and therefore went ahead to form Mau Mau Arts as a way to unite creative individuals after seeking out ways to fill voids that were left gaping in the industry.
He later transitioned into film work with his first project being as a Producer of the short film Heartshot for the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival Nairobi and later Kaleidoscope (2016), a fantasy short film, where he worked as an Executive Producer, Screenwriter & Producer. From 2017, Munuku embarked on multiple projects some of which include documentary making, music & feature film production.
Watch Robert Mũnũku’s Demo Showreel (2015-2018):