Our leaders must do away with reckless advisers

Saturday September 30 2017

By LUIS FRANCESCHI
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Joachim von Ribbentrop was Hitler’s right-hand man in foreign politics. He was an intelligent, egoistic and Machiavellian opportunist.  

He started his life as a wine trader, and married Anna Henkell, of a powerful winemaking family, to secure his business growth and success. For him, family, business and politics were all intermingled. 

Anna, who was enchanted by the Führer, introduced Joachim. For the couple, getting closer to Hitler and pleasing him was good for business. Eventually business became politics, assassination and execution.

In 1993, Michael Bloch published a fantastic biography of Ribbentrop. Bloch portrays Ribbentrop as the prototype of a yes-man, who sought to please Hitler in every possible way.

Hitler liked him and defended him against the attacks of cleverer and crueller criminals like Goebbels and Goering. 

History teaches us scary lessons. As one reads through Bloch’s account of Ribbentrop’s diplomacy in the pre-Second World War, it becomes crystal clear that the war was coming. 

The writing was on the wall; Hitler was on a warpath. Europe turned a blind eye and preferred to believe that all would be well. 

RECKLESS AND SENSELESS

For several years, leaders closed their eyes to Hitler’s implicit and explicit attacks, aggressive talk, tactics and advances.

Ribbentropp, who always behaved as Hitler’s faithful handler and loudmouth, came eventually to saying “We no longer demand anything, we want war.” Europe hoped things would turn differently but alas, ‘things’ are the result of actions; destiny is the predictable outcome of our actions.

William Jennings Bryan puts it well when he says, “destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.”  Jennings was paraphrasing William Shakespeare’s “it is not in the starts to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

I refuse to believe that Kenya’s destiny will be decided by the Ribbentropps of today, the handlers, the reckless and senseless loudmouths that are used to manipulate the“hopefool” low class, desperate and sometimes intellectually weak.

They are the ones who will pay the price of death and a jobless economy to have “their” man in power. 

It is really saddening that Babu Owinos and Moses Kurias brainless and obtuse utterances are not punished by their respective principals. To keep quiet and stand by implies consent. Passivity at Kuria’s and Owino’s abuses implies consent. 

This is absurd and the further it goes the wider the rift; the further, the more the Führer-like; manipulative leaders who care for nothing but power. Our destiny is hanging on the words of our two principals.

ALWAYS FORSEEABLE

There is something scary and sinister in Kenya’s approach to politics, protest and conversation. It is as if we all had our little Hitler inside, with our Ribbentroppson on the loose. 

The build-up to chaos is always foreseeable but often denied. We turn our eyes away from what is evident. The logic of our political discourse is collapsing; we are reliving our own “colossal failure of common sense”.

The Colossal Failure of Common Sense, by Lawrence McDonald and Patrick Robinson, is an intriguing account of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the biggest bankruptcy in human history. It was not a surprise and it did not have to happen.  

Richard Fuld (CEO) and Joe Gregory (President) were warned on three occasions as far as 2005. “Fuld and Gregory turned their backs each time.”

We cannot see Kenya collapse and stand by. Dialogue is urgent. The two principals need to sit down, talk, come together for if they do not do it now, bullets, machetes, blood and death will tear us apart.

We have lost objectivity, and we are blinded by our passions, disordered love and bitter hatred. It is a saddening truth. As the handlers feed hatred, we stand and watch.

OUR ENEMY

It is as if we never believed in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutors, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the IEBC and now the Supreme Court. We do not believe in anybody for we do not believe in institutions but in ‘the man’, and whatever he says. 

When ‘the man’ attacked the IEBC we were there to clap, when the man attacked the Supreme Court we were there, when the man attacked the President we were there, when the man attacked the opposition we were there, and anybody who defended any sort of institution became our enemy; he was against ‘the man’.

Time is not the solution to our problems. Hatred is a contagious intergenerational disease. We must do something. The two principals must meet and dialogue. 

In his first inaugural address, almost 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan said something that comes in handy to Kenya’s situation: 

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

Dr Franceschi is the dean of Strathmore Law School. [email protected]; Twitter: @lgfranceschi