To: Ambassador Elkana Odembo,
The Ambassador of Kenya to United States of America
Kenya Embassy in Washington, DC.
Dear Your Excellency,
This letter is in response to various newspaper reports appearing in The Standard online editions, especially the article of April 20, 2012. In this series of reports, you were quoted presiding over a ‘pre-election peace pact’ with the ‘Diaspora’. The implication that Kenyans in the Diaspora were responsible for the massive post-election violence that occurred in 2007 and 2008 is simply false. We feel compelled to respond to this report because of the misleading impression it creates in the mind of the world that Kenyans in the Diaspora were the architects the violence in which close to 1,500 civilians were killed, thousands of women raped and hundreds of thousands displaced. An American reading the Standard would think that the Kenyan people living here were the instigators of the violence.
Mr. Ambassador, as you know, Kenyans living in America send their hard–earned dollars regularly o support their kin at home. Alarming reports such as these could cause U.S. authorities to scrutinize all such remittances under the U.S. Patriot Act. If The Standard story as attributed to you is true, then you are implying that the hardworking Kenyans have committed or have the potential to commit serious crimes from the comfort of their homes in the United States. The USA PATRIOT Act empowers the Secretary of Treasury to seize any assets of any individuals, particularly those operating within the territories of USA if he/she has probable cause to belief that the individuals are engaged, directly or indirectly in terrorist activities or using their money to sponsor international crimes.
We are concerned about the politicization of the unfortunate incidents of 2007/8 and we want this habit to end. To set the record straight, the Diaspora was not in any way associated with Kenya’s Post-Election mayhem; therefore, the signing of the “peace pact” was a distraction and an instrument of political propaganda. Because of the politicization of this critical issue, the victims of the violence have lost the opportunity to be resettled. The 2007/8 violence was triggered by the disputed presidential elections. Investigations by the Justice Philip Waki Commission established that Kenyan politicians in both sides of the political divide took advantage of the situation to instigate ethnic cleansing. Nowhere in the Waki Commission was the Diaspora mentioned as having been an accessory to the violence. It is true that after the violence broke out, some people from certain ethnic communities living in the Diaspora (U.S., Britain, etc) appeared to take sides on the conflict. However, this does not mean that they caused and or sponsored the conflict. Nor does it mean that they in any way condoned the violence.
We appreciate your effort to preach peace. But that effort must be based on honesty and reflect the reality on the ground. It is evident that the Kenyan government has not shown any genuine commitment to address the issues of the 2007/8 ethnic cleansing. Instead, what we have all seen is that the government investing millions of taxpayers’ money in an effort to defend suspects of international crimes who were indicted as the principal culprits of the violence. The signing of the purported peace deal is an insult to the victims of the 2007/8 violence who are still living in various internally displaced camps across Kenya. There were no cases of ethnic cleansing reported in any of the 50 United States of America. We have read newspaper reports that some of the suspects of the 2007/8 violence seized the farms belonging to the displaced victims. This is an area where peace pacts would be relevant and, indeed, valuable. We suggest that genuine efforts be made by the Kenyan government in Nairobi to address the problems of tribalism before asking you (if at all you have been asked) to eradicate it here.
We would like to urge you to come out of Washington, DC and the East Coast States and visit with Kenyans living in various States in America to get their views about what they think should be done in Kenya. You cannot purport to be working for the unity of Kenyans by engaging in selective meetings with a few people in the East Coast. We feel that the misleading newspaper reports should be discounted and the true picture of the thinking of Kenyans in the Diaspora be clarified.
Mr. Ambassador, we would like you to know that you are dealing with a well informed Kenyan community in America. It should be noted that majority of Diasporans are worried about the events taking place in Kenya. The police have continued to engage in extra-judicial killing of innocent people in total disregard to the provisions of the Bill of Rights in Kenya’s Constitution. Corruption has continued to spiral while impunity thrives across the republic. The blatant violation of the Constitution by various actors is a clear testimony of the government’s lack of commitment to protect, maintain and uphold the rule of law. We are concerned that the ground has been well prepared for worse violence than was witnessed in the 2007/8 flare-ups as Kenya approaches the next general elections. This is evident on the activities of politicians who have been indicted for serious crimes against humanity and who apparently enjoy support from the highest level of the government going round the country forming ethnic blocks and threatening to obliterate the Constitution to achieve their goals. We would like the opportunity to address these issues with you.
Tribalism begins at home and spreads to the Diaspora. We would like to appeal to you to unite Kenyans by sitting down with them, listen to their views, understand their problems – discover the reasons behind their lack of unity and why they exhibit tribal tendencies then come up with genuine resolutions on the way forward.
Thank you for your concern.
1. Alex Momanyi Raleigh, North Carolina
2. Peter Makori Kansas City, Missouri
3. John Kamau Phoenix, Arizona
4. Meshack Metobo Dallas, Texas
5. Matheka Matu New Mexico.
6. Zachayo Atony Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. Kibunja Kimani Las,Vegas,Nevada
8. Abdul Kiptanui Phoenix, Arizona
C.C. 1. Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation
2. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs